Structured English Immersion Foundation Education Essay

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More and more public schools are faced with the challenge of educating children who qualify according to federal guidelines for extra help in learning the English language. This group has come to include not only immigrant children who speak little or no English, but also children who are born in the United States to immigrants parents where the household speaks, and has limited English proficiency (LEP) "The diversity in American schools is not a new concept. Immigrant students have always been a part of the American education system. The question is how to address the needs of immigrant students? The teaching methods differ from state to state and school to school." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured_English_Immersion

Structured English Immersion

"Structured English Immersion (SEI) is a technique for rapidly teaching English to immigrants. The term was coined by Keith Baker and Adriana de Kantar in 1983. In the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision, for Horne v. Flores, stated, that Structured English Immersion is significantly more effective than the former bilingual education system. Structured English Immersion is to teach children English so they can succeed in 21st century America. Structured English Immersion is mandatory in California, Arizona and Massachusetts." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured_English_Immersion

In the law, sheltered instruction is defined as classrooms where materials are in English and the curriculum is specifically designed for ELLs (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71A). However, it is important to keep in mind that sheltered English instruction is an instructional methodology that simultaneously teaches English and content area knowledge and skills. In other words, SEI teachers develop their ELL students' English language abilities through linguistically modified instruction in the content areas such as math, science, and social studies. In SEI classrooms, teachers scaffold instruction using specific communication and text modification strategies to make English content comprehensible to ELL students with varying levels of English language proficiency.

In English, language learner is also referred to as limited English proficient (LEP) student. The federal definition of an LEP student is a student whose first language is one other than English and who cannot perform ordinary class work in English.

SEI Framework

The following are components of the emerging framework of Structure English Immersion:

Significant amounts of the school day are dedicated to the explicit teaching of the English language, and students are grouped for this instruction according to their level of English proficiency.

The English language is the main content of SEI instruction. Academic content plays a supporting, but subordinate, role.

English is the language of instruction; students and teachers are expected to speak, read, and write in English.

Teachers use instructional methods that treat English as a foreign language.

Students learn discrete English grammar skills.

Rigorous time lines are established for students to exit from the program.

SEI program graduates continue to receive support services until they are reclassified as fluent English proficient whereby Federal law then requires students be monitored for two years after reclassification.

SEI by State

In Arizona, where SEI is required of all schools in the state, all textbooks, materials, and assessments used in an SEI classroom must be aligned to the Arizona K-12 English Language Learner Proficiency Standards .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured_English_Immersion

Despite the potential effectiveness of SEI and its numerous implementations, it has failed to live up to English only proponents' false claims that ELLs can reach full English language proficiency in one year's time. In fact, the magical accelerated language teaching attributes associated with SEI by its proponents are unsupported by statewide English proficiency test results for the 2004-2005 school years. The test results showed that after one year of SEI instruction, the majority of ELL students still remained at a beginning English proficiency level (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2005). Educators in American schools must seek out ways to meet the needs of changing classrooms. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are not acquired in isolated learning situations. Socio-cultural perspectives of literacy emphasized the idea that multiple literacy's are developed when teachers consider reading, writing, and language to be embedded in the way we communicate on a daily basis

Conclusion

Although federal legislation and court decisions have long maintained that school districts establish programs for English language learners that are based on sound educational theory, evidence suggests that too many English language learners are not gaining proficiency in English and mastering academic content. In spite of our best efforts to provide answers, however, data on student outcomes indicate distressing results for the English language learners. "Additionally, a number of research studies and both state and national data suggest that the majority of English language learns do not receive the services needed to produce a level of English proficiency that will assist in the elimination of the achievement gap that separates them."(The Chicago school of Professional Psychology)

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