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Teacher: My ELL Students Are the ‘Forgotten Ones’

Teacher: My ELL Students Are the ‘Forgotten Ones’

Linda Chantal Sullivan has been an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher for the past fifteen years, and she’s sounding off on the challenges that both her and her students face in today’s current public school system.

In a post on Nancy Bailey’s Education Website, Sullivan describes what it’s like working with students who are immigrants that are all LEP—Limited English Proficient.

One of the biggest challenges that ELL teachers and students face, Sullivan says, is that despite speaking little to no English, ELL students are forced into mainstream classes and are subjected to the same standards and exams as their fluent-in-English peers.

Similarly to the fed-up special education teachers who’ve had enough of frustrating their students with too challening material, Sullivan, too, is sick of seeing her ELL children cry from being administered tests they don’t understand. 

What’s hard about being an ELL teacher? "Watching kids cry when told how many tests they need to pass in order to graduate. Seeing that look of despair on their faces because they know they can’t pass them. They’ve already tried, and are taking makeup tests in addition to another try at them in the spring,” she said.

Sullivan describes holding back tears after listening to her students’ stories of hardships, and even worse, thinking about how her students are oftentimes the forgotten ones.

"I recently found out that all other students received a PSAT preparation guide weeks before the all-school testing day. I accidentally stumbled upon one in a Language Arts teacher’s room, so I asked for them and had just two days to show it to my students, instead of two weeks. Every time we have any event that requires a visit to all Language Arts classrooms, ELLs are forgotten.”

ELL doesn’t even have its own department, Sullivan says, because each school in her district only has one ELL teacher on staff despite needing more.

Behavior-wise, Sullivan says she struggles regularly trying to address discipline across cultural barriers.

It’s hard “[t]rying to show I care even though I’m giving another detention.”

Read Sullivan’s full post here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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