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Career Story: ESL Teacher At An Elementary School

ESL Teacher At An Elementary School

Job Title: Elementary ESL Teacher

Education: Bachelor's Degree from Boston University in Bilingual Education (Spanish) and English as a Second Language Elementary Level •• Master's Degree from Lesley University in Curriculum and Instruction: Literacy

Previous Experience: Prior to working at Lincoln-Eliot Elementary, I worked as a bilingual teacher in a dual-immersion program in a different school district for eight years.

Job Tasks: I work for a public elementary school in the Boston area.

I am responsible for providing English as a Second Language (ESL) support and services to around sixty-five different students in grade levels Kindergarten to 5th grade. These students come from varying language backgrounds, including Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Tagalog. Many of these students come to our school with little or no English language skills.

I also supervise three instructional aides that provide services to the English Language Learners (ELLs). I consult with them on their teaching practices and planning for lessons. I also teach them how to use different strategies for teaching ELLs in which they have not previously been trained.

I administer all of the Department of Education's standardized tests for ELLs. I am required to track the progress of the ELLs in the building with state assessments and reports. In addition to working with ELLs, I must also monitor the progress of students that are exited from the program for two years to ensure that they no longer require ESL support.

A typical day involves teaching literacy to various groups of students at different levels in their English language acquisition. For example, I work with some students who need support with acquiring vocabulary and conversational skills in the morning. After that, I move to one of the kindergarten classrooms where I work one-on-one with an ELL who needs help with beginning skills for reading. I also support teachers with information about best practices for teaching English Language Learners in the classroom. In addition to working with students and teachers, I also facilitate interpreters for families that are not literate in English.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is interacting with the students directly. I enjoy teaching students new vocabulary, reading comprehension strategies, writing techniques, typical American celebrations and culture, and how to socially interact appropriately with peers.

It is wonderful to see students progressing with their English language development. A student may come with no English and after a few months begin speaking in phrases and simple sentences. With the right support from teachers, these students make rapid progress.

Another delightful part of my job is helping immigrant families to become part of the greater school community. It is difficult for families to be a part of the community when they are not literate in English. Notices that go home about school events and programs need to be interpreted. I work with the district interpreters to help families be informed of the schools programs and suggestions for support with learning at home.

Job Tips:
1. The most important thing that can prepare you for a job as an ESL teacher is to observe and volunteer in schools. The hands-on learning from other teachers is essential. It will give you an idea if this career is really for you and what it entails.

2. I also recommend that you learn a second language yourself in order to empathize with your students and understand the stages of language acquisition. Taking another language gives you perspective.

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