As the Latino population continues to grow, English as a Second Language instruction is now available in all Cumberland County schools.
A decade ago, not all schools had access to ESL instruction, said Deborah Wilkes, Cumberland County Schools ESL coordinator.
In a decade, North Carolina’s Latino population has grown nearly 40%, according to data from the 2020 redistricting census.
The Latino population grew nearly 31% in Cumberland County, from 9.4% in 2010 to 11.8% of the population in 2020, according to the census.
Wilkes said the Latino student population has grown “exponentially” over the past decade.
“As with any population increase, CCS continues to meet the needs of the Latino population for culturally relevant education, providing school communication in English and Spanish, providing interpreter and translator English-Spanish when needed and interdepartmental collaboration. to provide support, outreach and informational services to Latino students and families,” Wilkes said.
Finding ESL teachers is extremely difficult, Wilkes said.
“English as a second language teachers are special educators who are in demand and in short supply across the country, the state…and in Cumberland,” she said. “An ESL teacher does not need to be bilingual, but trained to work with students from all linguistic backgrounds. »
Elisa Luna, the ESL Parent Community Liaison for Cumberland County Schools, said the program is especially important now, due to the significant increase in the Latino population.
“By providing our students with a welcoming classroom environment in a smaller setting, they have more opportunities to interact and adapt,” she said. “We cultivate conversational and social skills to support the student’s academic growth and success, as well as to ease the transition to a new culture.”
Wilkes, who has worked in Cumberland County for nearly a decade, said under federal law students whose primary language is not English must receive the support and instruction necessary to standardize The game’s rules.
“English-speaking learners are expected to meet the same academic standards as English-speaking students in our schools,” she said. “English language learners are at a disadvantage in meeting these standards because of the language barrier.”
There are 1,642 ESL students in Cumberland County schools, Wilkes said.
“The largest group of our EL students is Hispanic, followed by Middle Eastern, Asian and Caribbean,” she said.
Continued:Cumberland County’s Rising Latino Population Creates Public Health Concerns
When enrolling a student in school in North Carolina, families are required to complete a home language survey, Wilkes said.
“Any student whose survey includes a language other than English receives a follow-up call home to inquire further about the graded language. Based on this information, we determine if the student should be screened for English language development needs,” she said. “Once selected, students who qualify for services are offered support for their English language development through ESL classes or other support programs.”
Wilkes said learning to speak English takes years.
“Research shows that the social language we use in everyday personal communication takes 1-2 years to acquire. However, research also shows that it takes 5-7 years to acquire proficiency in academic English,” said she said, “Therefore, even if a student can speak with their peers in clear and understandable English, academic English fluency takes longer to acquire.”
Wilkes said people who immigrate to the United States who don’t speak English actually have a wealth of skills and life experiences, regardless of the assumptions people make.
“(People think) English proficiency is a reflection of a person’s intelligence, education and social status,” she said. “Non-English speaking people just don’t speak enough English right now to show off their abilities, but will over time.”
Wilkes said Cumberland County schools are working to ensure educators are knowledgeable.
“Inclusiveness includes student-centered teaching and personalized learning for all students, regardless of language or cultural background,” she said. “Educators have professional development opportunities to learn strategies for creating culturally appropriate classrooms, differentiated learning and teaching, and equity-based practices that promote academic success for all students.”
Health and Education Editor Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3561.