When English isn't your first language

Friday, January 25, 2008
Tribune Photo by Karen Hall The students in the English as a Second Language class at Marshall County High School recently returned from a trip to see the Nashville Ballet perform.

"We're not just teaching English, we're teaching the culture and getting the parents involved," says Jennifer Meyer, one of Marshall County's two English as a Second Language teachers.

When children first register for school, one of the questions on the form is whether a language other than English is spoken in the home. If the answer is "yes," then the child is evaluated when they first come to school and, if necessary, put in the ESL program. From kindergarten through 12th grade, there are about 100 students in Marshall County receiving ESL instruction.

The goal is to get them to pass the federally mandated English Language Development Assessment test in the spring of the year. The test measures reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities. Once the child has passed they are released from the ESL program, but they are monitored for two more years in case language difficulties cause them to fall behind in their class work.

See Friday's Tribune for the complete story.