All students, whether native or non-native English speakers, must meet the same requirements that are set by any learning institutions. The school is a venue for healthy competition; for finding raw talents and molding them to become well-rounded individuals. Special or different treatment for those students who lack the speaking aptitude should not be encouraged since it may result to negative effects on a student’s academic, social, and psychological development. This delineation may be caused by understanding the wrong concepts in dealing with ESL students.
One can easily distinguish ‘pure type’ ESL students in the class. For a while, they remain to be silent as they adjust to a new school environment and culture; unless there is another native-language peer that they can intermingle with. It is unfortunate that “not all ESL students have the necessary competence in one language that will allow an easy bridge into second language learning.” There are several reasons why this is so. It could be that one of both parents’ native language may be different from what the family is using in their usual communication. In another instance, some international-school children may have moved several times to various countries or that they have been under the care of nannies having an entirely different language. In still other situation, children of immigrants living in close communities may have lost their links to their native country of origin but still remain to be entirely disconnected with the new environment. These are scenarios that offer potential for “poor language models and poor language development.”
It is said that “language and literacy have been foregrounded by changes in educational policies and practice occurring over the past decade. The changes in the society have some what altered the standards of the educational system for the students’ successful completion of their education and the ability to meet the economic and social demands of the 21st century. Language is said to be a vital developmental area throughout the educational years regardless of a student’s linguistic, cultural, or social background.
Students who are foreign in an English-speaking country are made to take a qualifying exam. This holds true even for migrating or working individuals. The International Language Testing System (IELTS) is a form of a qualifying test that evaluates ones ability in the four macro skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking English. Research shows that IELTS motivates test-takers to develop real and well-rounded English rather than learning by rote. This means that ones understanding of English is developed and improved to qualify to study, live, and work in an English-speaking country. Over 6000 institutions across 120 countries recognize IELTS as a major qualifier for assessment in the use of the English Language. Based on the provided information of this test, we can say that truly colleges, school, and universities would want to give priority to those who can communicate effectively. However, while students strive to acquire the level of proficiency needed, teachers also need to be effective in their communication skills as well. This would also include their ability to understand their students’ means of verbalizing thoughts to them.
In a diverse society similar to where people live now, teachers must also be prepared to work with students possessing different culture, social, and linguistic backgrounds. As the lessons go along, none-English speakers will eventually become fluent speakers since the best way to master any language is through practice. Isolating them or not providing them with equal treatment will hinder their learning or worse, cause emotional disturbances. Moreover, some schools offer special classes on English proficiency that will be able to assist these ESL students in their regular class lectures and activities. Although the same level of proficiency applies for both native and non-native speakers, but one of the most effective tool to master the language is establishing frequent interaction with other people. This is what referred to as the Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. During interactions with English learners, expert speakers not only provide access to the language but they also project some actuations that would make communication more effective both in content and presentation of thoughts, ideas, intentions, and information. Oftentimes, they grasp the meaning of a word or words based on how others use them in regular conversation coupled with gestures or other forms of actions. Avenue for this could be anywhere; in the school corridor, shopping malls, restaurants, or any informal setting. Interaction is an important source of comprehensible input as well. This particular case only proves that it is in the commitment to learn that would matter in end. However, a particular fact should also be noted that mere exposure to the targeted language is not sufficient in acquiring the level of proficiency in the said language. The learning process may take some five to ten years. Nonetheless, this so called means of “communication” may facilitate the learning process in order to understand the context of the language through verbal and non-verbal communication.
The type of language that is required for success in any academic institution is referred to as Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. The level of academic competence is the basis for the students’ ease in acquiring and achieving the level of cognition necessary to be able to think critically. Complementing this is also entails the degree of knowledge students have in their understanding of the subject matter. In this sense, students should possess the proficiency to communicate or express their ideas in the classroom as product of their critical thinking. They may somehow be able to challenge their peers or even their teachers as part of how their confidence and credibility is developed and established. While it is easy to misunderstand conversational competence with academic aptitude in language, however, it is not the sole criterion for evaluation. Proficiency in the social aspect of communication in English is not the most vital aspect to determine success in school. Upgrading the skills of students who are non-native English speakers would also help them in life after college. They will become competitive in their chosen profession and be able to survive the threats posed by the society. This will not be achieved if they were not given the same level of evaluation as native English speakers. Aside from IELTS there are other test types that are also meant to assess ones ability in English. The primary aim of providing equal proficiency, if not better, requirement is to enable unskilled learners to step up and get the ample professional help to elevate their level to those who are skilled and native-speakers of the country. While it is said that it may take five to ten years before a student become efficient in the English language, social interaction with his or her peers will prove helpful as well. The best way to be good at something is through practice. There are reliable cases that show that some native English speakers do not necessarily thrive well academically compared to some non-native but highly motivated speakers. This also applies to communication and language proficiency. Since English is the universal language, then all must make it a mission to impart the necessary skills; school administrators to teachers and teachers to their students.
“According to TESOL, effective education for ESL students comprises five dimensions, which [they] endorse for inclusive, international schools: Effective education includes native-like levels of proficiency in English. Effective education includes the maintenance and promotion of ESL students’ native languages in school and community contexts. All educational personnel assume responsibility for the education of ESL students. Effective education also calls for comprehensive provision of first-rate services and full access to those services by all students. Knowledge of more than one language and culture is advantageous for all students.” Other academic strategies that teachers or educators can do to enhance the level of proficiency of students are through completion of assignments, classroom discussion and recitations that strictly use English, and more reading of academic journals. These should all be connected with the students’ discipline so that they are able to develop the concepts instead of making it as a mere coping mechanism. Based on a research conducted tailored to homework research, it is said that “achievement was higher in classes [that] set frequent homework assignments and in classes where students reported low overall levels of negative emotions when doing homework.” Providing ESL students with the same level of academic challenges native-English speakers have may encourage harmonious and healthy competition in class. They will perform in the same manner other students would and will develop the skills necessary to survive in their new environment.
Retrieved July 18, 2009, from IELTS English for International Opportunity Web site: http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/what_is_ielts.aspx
Robinson, N., Keogh, B. & Kusuma-Powell O (2009, February 19). Who Are ESL Students?. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from U.S. Department of State Web site: http://www.state.gov/m/a/os/44038.htm
Trautwein, U, Schnyder, I, & Niggli, A. (2009). Chameleon Effects in Homework Research: The Homework-Achievement Association Depends on the Measures Used and the Level of Analysis Chosen. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 77-88.
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