Bianca is an eight year old who was orphaned by a devastating tsunami in Indonesia at the age of five. Bianca was recently adopted by an English-speaking family in Indiana and enrolled in third grade at James Madison Elementary. Her native language is Bahasa Indonesia and her adopted family only speaks limited phrases of this language.
Prior to coming to James Madison Elementary, Bianca’s education has been sporadic. Therefore, she is considered a Student Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) due to missing one to two years of formal education. As a result, her English language development is limited, making it difficult to participate in grade-appropriate classroom tasks. The program for English Language Learners at James Madison Elementary is English Language Development (ELD).
Bianca is in a traditional third grade classroom and receives support from an ESL teacher (English as second language) for thirty minutes twice a week. Her teacher, Mrs. Perkins, is concerned because Bianca has made limited progress over the past three months and is considered at the early production stage of second language development (see Chapter 4). During a parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Perkins spoke with Bianca’s parents concerning her language struggle and academic progress. She is considering referring Bianca for testing to determine if she has a specific learning disability. Bianca’s parents fear labeling their young daughter and think she will catch up once she becomes proficient in English. They have asked Mrs. Perkins for additional intervention strategies before agreeing to assess for a specific learning disability.
Mrs. Perkins has very little training in how to properly support the ELL students in her class; therefore, her classroom tasks tend to be appropriate for native English-speaking third graders. Mrs. Perkins reflects on her learning objective tomorrow where students will be expected define the parts of a plant: roots, stem, leaves, and flower.
In your discussion, consider the following questions:
Honigsfeld, A & Cohan, A. (2015). Serving English language learners. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.