For Washington State specifically, Spanish speakers make up 8.3% of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Within Washington schools, approximately 5.6% of students enter the schools speaking Spanish primarily (Dorn, 2011). Different programs exist to address this growing population and the best way to help them succeed in the public school system. These programs vary from pull-out programs to integrated classrooms and bilingual instruction.
Three of the most commonly used program models are Newcomer programs, Sheltered Instruction (SI), and Supportive Mainstream models. Newcomer programs, as the name would suggest, are designed for students who have just arrived in the country and for those who have had little formal education prior to moving to the United States. A student is generally in this type of program for a semester to a year as they learn about living in their new country. SI moves a student into more content-based learning, with language acquisition as a secondary goal. The teachers of these courses are trained in the education of English language learners. Supportive Mainstream programs a...
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...or professional development, an invaluable source of information is the mainstream teachers themselves. Batt (2008) found, in speaking with educators about teaching ELLs, that they feel their training is inadequate. In a survey of 279 high school teachers, Reeves (2006) found that, while the attitudes of teachers toward ELLs were generally positive, their feelings on the professional development provided to them was neutral.
The general conclusion to make from all of this is that, while SI and supportive mainstream programs hold promise for teaching ELLs, teachers are not getting the support they need. Without that support, the students will not be getting the instruction they need to succeed in mainstream classrooms. Therefore, the present study looks to determine the ultimate effects teacher training has on ELLs and their success in the classroom.
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