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Parents lie on survey that identifies ELLs

 
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:42 pm    Post subject: Parents lie on survey that identifies ELLs Reply with quote

Parents lie on survey to identify English learners
By Amy Taxin, Associated Press | November 16, 2014
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/parents-lie-survey-identify-english-learners-163108335.html

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nieves Garcia came from Mexico at age 6 and spent most of her elementary school years in California classified as an "English learner" even after she had picked up the language. Now a 32-year-old mother, she didn't want her daughter labeled the same way and subjected to additional testing. And so she lied. When Garcia signed up her daughter for kindergarten, she answered a standard four-question survey by saying her family spoke only English at home, even though her husband doesn't speak the language. "I just said we spoke English, English, English and English," Garcia said.

California education officials say it's tough to know how many parents lie on the home language survey they are required to fill out before their children start public school. Educators say failing to identify students who need language assistance can set the children back and violate federal laws guaranteeing access to education. Parents like Garcia fear that by acknowledging the truth, their kids will be siphoned off from native English speakers or stigmatized, and could miss out on learning opportunities.

Rosaisela Rodriguez deliberately didn't declare that her twin son and daughter knew Spanish when she enrolled them in school, adding that most 5-year-olds are language learners, regardless of whether they are bilingual. "If they were placed in the English language group they would have been taken out at a certain time or placed in different curriculum," said Rodriguez, 51, of Pleasant Hill. "This was a very calculated move on my part."

In an increasingly multilingual society, a slew of states are reevaluating how they define and identify English learners in the hope of moving toward a more unified system, education experts said. California plans to roll out a new English language proficiency test in 2016, and is considering changing its home language survey, said Elena Fajardo, administrator of the state Department of Education's language policy and leadership office. The survey was developed in 1980 and the state's population and immigration patterns have changed since then.

Census data shows that nearly 44 percent of Californians age 5 and older speak a language other than English. The most common language spoken is Spanish, and 57 percent of Spanish speakers in the state say they also speak English very well. That's a marked shift from 1990, when less than a third of the state's residents age 5 and older spoke another language, and less than half of Spanish-speaking Californians claimed to also speak English very well, the data shows. Most states including California — where nearly a quarter of public school students are considered English learners — screen children initially through the home language survey and give an English proficiency test to those whose families speak another language.

In California, more than 200,000 incoming kindergarteners were given the test in 2012 and only 9 percent were deemed English proficient, according to state data. Those results have led some parents to slam the use of a single day of testing of preschoolers — and an exam some say is too difficult — to determine a child's educational path. Alison Bailey, a University of California, Los Angeles professor who researches bilingualism, said many state surveys including California's don't really consider the possibility that a child might be bilingual. "There are competent bilingual children who would do as well in an English language environment as any other," she said. "The initial cut of children going in to be assessed may not need to be as high as it is."

Some parents don't want their children classified as English learners because they fear they won't be able to move into more advanced coursework in middle and high school due to additional language requirements. Another reason is that state data shows English learners don't perform as well on the California High School Exit Exam — though students who were initially English learners and reclassified outperformed their English-only counterparts on the test. Cheryl Ortega, director of bilingual education for United Teachers Los Angeles, said she's seen Spanish-speaking parents write on the home language survey that English is spoken at home by using the Spanish word "ingles." She said educators ought to meet with parents before they fill out the forms and explain the process to dispel concerns.

Earlier this year, Tesha Sengupta-Irving, an education professor in Orange County, registered her son for kindergarten. At the time, her parents were visiting and she was speaking to them in their native tongue, Bengali, so she wrote on her survey that the language was spoken at home. Her son, who knew but a few words in Bengali, was tested and classified as an English learner. She said the results were ironic since she had tirelessly tried to pass the language on to him and still he spoke only English. "That survey is the most benign looking thing ever," said the 38-year-old, adding it was one of a dozen forms required to enroll her son in school. "It is catching too many kids."

(End of article)
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BadBeagleBad



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting article. I don't blame parents at all for lying. I taught bi-lingual education for 5 years in a US public school system, and once you are in bi-lingual education you rarely get out. Most the core subjects were taught in Spanish, with an hour a day of English instruction. But with classmates, neighbors and at home students only spoke Spanish. Rewinding the tape to when my parents moved to the US (from Mexico) when I was 5, there was no bi-lingual education, they used the sink or swim method. Even though it sounds harsh, I was fully functional in English by Christmas of first grade, and was an A student all the way through elementary school. I speak English with no accent. Ironically, I know LOADS of US born Hispanics who speak English WITH an accent BECAUSE of bi-lingual education and never really become bi-lingual, they remain Spanish dominant no matter how long they are in the US. Just my 2 cents
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BadBeagleBad wrote:
Ironically, I know LOADS of US born Hispanics who speak English WITH an accent BECAUSE of bi-lingual education and never really become bi-lingual, they remain Spanish dominant no matter how long they are in the US.

However, speaking English with an L1 accent doesn't mean the person isn't fully bilingual. Accents can be retained or picked up based on the individual's physical environment and/or who they spend a large of amount of time with.
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BadBeagleBad



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
BadBeagleBad wrote:
Ironically, I know LOADS of US born Hispanics who speak English WITH an accent BECAUSE of bi-lingual education and never really become bi-lingual, they remain Spanish dominant no matter how long they are in the US.

However, speaking English with an L1 accent doesn't mean the person isn't fully bilingual. Accents can be retained or picked up based on the individual's physical environment and/or who they spend a large of amount of time with.


True. But most of the people I am talking about are not really fully bilingual because of being taught in Spanish (sometimes all the way through High School, speaking Spanish with their friends, in their neighborhoods, at home). I know of two people who graduated from High School in the US and do not really speak English. Also, I think there is an (sometimes wrong, as you pointed out) assumption that if you speak English with an accent, you are an immigrant (or possibly even an illegal) and it leaves you with a distinct advantage when looking for a job. A few years back I did an experiment when I was visiting in the US- sent out a few feelers for jobs with the vast majority of my work history in Mexico, and I got a phone call where someone called, asked for me, and when I answered she said, "Well, that answers that question" and went on to ask me a few other questions about my resume. I could be wrong, but I assumed that since she had not asked me anything else, she wanted to hear my accent. Personally, based on my own experience, "Bi-lingual" education is anything but in a lot of places, it's just education in L1. Perhaps in smaller cities with a more mixed bag of immigrants it comes closer to being what it is supposed to be. I only have experience in public schools in Chicago and Milwaukee, where there are very large Hispanic populations. I knew a teacher once who was not even bi-lingual herself, teaching 2nd grade, if I recall correctly. An excellent teacher, by the way, but taught the entire day in Spanish.
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DebMer



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is one of my pet peeves in our system. I've said many times that, if I were to enroll my kids in a public school, I would never indicate that my kids were not native English speakers, for all of the reasons that BBB mentions above. A boy from Germany came to my school and entered my mainstream classroom when I was in fifth grade. He started the year knowing how to count to 10 in English. He finished the year with no detectable accent in his fluent English. I think we do pre-adolescent ELL kids a disservice when we try to accommodate them with special programs.

It's a different story after adolescence, of course, when the brain changes and language acquisition is a different process. Even then, though, I think there should be a strong preference for transitioning kids out of special programs and into mainstream classrooms as early as possible.

I have a student right now whose preschool-age autistic son was "downgraded" to a class for severely disabled children simply because he was still using a "pull-up." My student has tracked and documented all of his milestones, and he was on track for each one except for using the bathroom. Now that he is using the bathroom, she wants him moved to the mild disabilities class, and then into a regular kindergarten next year, for which he already qualifies in terms of milestones. You can't imagine the difficulty she is having in getting them to re-categorize him! A normal-functioning kid who sits in a chair, can count, recognize the letters of the alphabet and focus his attention for more than 30 minutes is receiving his "education" in a class of children who are rolling around on the floor and crying.

I think funding comes into play in these cases. Schools receive more money with a higher percentage of special needs such as language acquisition and learning or physical disabilities.
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santi84



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yikes, DebMer, yikes. My 4 year old autistic son is the same (still well into his pullups) and has been mainstreamed into an inclusive kindergarten starting in September.

I'm not sure I can agree on ELL accommodations for pre-adolescents being a problem. For some, sure, absolutely. I have worked with children whose mothers have zero English literacy skills and are unable to assist them outside the classroom.

Yes, our Quebecois students adapt VERY quickly - they know a similar alphabet, they have literate parents, and are encouraged to communicate constantly. We also have a decent-sized population of Somali and Ethiopian children whose parents are illiterate and in some cases, do not encourage education (and even discourage it for one of two genders).

Again, entirely dependent on the student of course, but I think special programming certainly has a place.
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DebMer



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In these cases, maybe an intensive literacy focus for a brief period would benefit them most. In any case, I would really hesitate to label them as ELLs, because the implications for them are long-term.

As far as parents who don't support the education process - you just described some of the English speaking populations in my area. These kids do need a lot of support, but I wouldn't distinguish between the needs of English speakers and ELLs on this point. Most of my very low fourth grade students were from English speaking families (typically multi-generational recipients of government assistance), not immigrant families.

One thing I would affirm, regardless of how they do or don't label kids in special programs: assess and remove them from the programs ASAP. There is very real risk in carrying a label.

santi84 wrote:
Yikes, DebMer, yikes. My 4 year old autistic son is the same (still well into his pullups) and has been mainstreamed into an inclusive kindergarten starting in September.

I'm not sure I can agree on ELL accommodations for pre-adolescents being a problem. For some, sure, absolutely. I have worked with children whose mothers have zero English literacy skills and are unable to assist them outside the classroom.

Yes, our Quebecois students adapt VERY quickly - they know a similar alphabet, they have literate parents, and are encouraged to communicate constantly. We also have a decent-sized population of Somali and Ethiopian children whose parents are illiterate and in some cases, do not encourage education (and even discourage it for one of two genders).

Again, entirely dependent on the student of course, but I think special programming certainly has a place.
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fraup



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The community college where I teach asks students what language is spoken at home. If they answer "English" and don't score high enough on the English placement to go into Composition 1, they're placed in "Writing Strategies", which leads into Comp 1. If they answer "Something Other than English", they take a different placement test, and if they don't score high enough they go into the English for Academic Purposes class which leads into Comp 1.
Once they're classified as EAP, however, they're also slotted into an EAP speaking class, which means I spend the first couple of days of speaking class writing notes to counselors saying that ____, who graduated from a U.S. high school and speaks fluent English, doesn't need this class and should be allowed to go directly into Speech 1. Of course, some prefer to stay in the class: easy A!
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fraup wrote:
The community college where I teach asks students what language is spoken at home. If they answer "English" and don't score high enough on the English placement to go into Composition 1, they're placed in "Writing Strategies", which leads into Comp 1. If they answer "Something Other than English", they take a different placement test, and if they don't score high enough they go into the English for Academic Purposes class which leads into Comp 1.
Once they're classified as EAP, however, they're also slotted into an EAP speaking class, which means I spend the first couple of days of speaking class writing notes to counselors saying that ____, who graduated from a U.S. high school and speaks fluent English, doesn't need this class and should be allowed to go directly into Speech 1. Of course, some prefer to stay in the class: easy A!


Yeah, I think a lot of assumptions are made about people who speak a language other than English at home. Most of the time that is because the PARENTS don´t speak English and not because the students don´t. And not just in schools. For some reason, PayPal decided to change my account to Spanish, and when I call them to ask a question, a Spanish speaker answers the phone. I don´t care, because I do speak Spanish, but I was curious so I asked once why they changed it, since I had had an account with them for years, and wondered outloud if it was because I had one of those last names that end in -ez......the guy kind of floundered and said he didn´t know.
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a related note...

Report: Rising share of Hispanics speak proficient English
By Amy Taxin, Associated Press | 12 May 2015
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/report-rising-share-hispanics-speak-proficient-english-160257497.html

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A rising share of Hispanics in the United States speak proficient English and the percentage of those speaking Spanish at home has been declining, researchers said Tuesday. A report by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found 68 percent of Hispanics spoke only English at home or spoke English very well in 2013, up from 59 percent in 2000. The share of Hispanics speaking Spanish at home dropped to 73 percent from 78 percent over the same period.

The shift comes as migration to the United States from Latin America has slowed. "This is part of a broader trend, which is the U.S.-born driving many of the characteristics of the community, and it is only going to become more amplified," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research.

Even so, the number of Hispanics who speak Spanish at home reached a record 35.8 million because of overall growth in the Hispanic population. The report found the number of Hispanics who speak proficient English also hit a record 33.2 million. The Hispanic population in the United States surged 53 percent to 54 million from 2000 to 2013, driven largely by growth among U.S.-born Hispanics, not immigrants, according to Pew. That's compared with 12 percent growth in the total population. About half of U.S.-born Hispanics speak Spanish, and about half of their children retain the language, Lopez said. The recent rise of English-language media geared toward Hispanics is responding to this trend, he said.

The language report, which was based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data for Hispanics age 5 and older, found 89 percent of U.S.-born Latinos spoke proficient English in 2013, up from 81 percent in 2000. For Hispanic immigrants, English proficiency was greater among those with higher levels of education, the report showed.

In Southern California, Rene Amel Peralta, 28, said he's increasingly used English as he pursues his college degree in chemistry. He said he had all but stopped using Spanish — the only language he knew until he came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 13 — but has started speaking it again more recently to reconnect with his culture. "Since I am getting a university education, my English language is becoming more academic, something I don't have at all in Spanish," he said. "In Spanish, I have the very basics. It is basically street Spanish."

Mauro Mujica, chairman of the group U.S. English, welcomed the news but questioned how quickly immigrants living in heavily Spanish-speaking neighborhoods in California and Florida are mastering English compared with those who settle elsewhere. Mujica, whose organization wants English declared the country's official language, said he believes newcomers would learn English even sooner if the U.S. government did more to help them assimilate. "I have never met an immigrant, or a mother of an immigrant, who doesn't want their kids to speak English," he said.

(End of article)
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