ESL Post

The main idea that I got from the first reading of this week is that 2nd language learners have a history of not being represented well in the college English classroom.  In the beginning, it was deemed that anyone who spoke English was qualified to teach it to 2nd language learners.  No matter how varied the ESL learners were regarding culture, race, age, or background… they were all taught the same.  After the 2nd World War, the University of Michigan developed  the English Language Institute that became renouned all over the world as the leading educational authority on teaching English to 2nd language learners.  The ELI used many of its techniques from a man named Fries who thought that the best way to teach people to learn English was orally.  It was the theory of Applied Linguistics, and Fries thought that one needed a linguist in the room to help everyone with their pronunciation of the words in order for them to be successful.  It wasn’t important to Fries that the students learned how to write the language, because he says the essence of language is speaking and understanding speech before writing ever came along.  But at some point during the 60’s and 70’s, there became too much to teach with not enough qualified teachers to teach it.  More 2nd language learners were coming into the country and there was nobody qualified to teach them.  No longer was the notion that as long as you spoke English you could teach it accepted.  Institutions were looking for teachers who had been trained in the teaching methods that could help 2nd language learners.  With this notion, the idea that a structured teaching philosophy would be needed to provide teachers with skills to be successful, while also organizeing a governing body to analyze what methods are best for the students.  This is when TESOL came into effect.  Universities began to see that they could no longer “hide” 2nd language learners in basic English courses, but that they needed to have some instructors on staff that would or could consistently teach these 2nd language learners year in and year out.  Having graduate students or first time teachers teach these students was doing nobody any good.  The teaching of English to 2nd language learners should be considered a life long job and one that would constantly have to be present in the college system from now on.  This person teaching English to these learners should be a professional, not a rookie.  The article als0 talks about the divided between TESOL and NCTE and how there are few people who are members of both groups.  The author thinks that in order for us to improve as an educational system we should not be divided, but come together to find the best way to teach all students.

bell hooks’s writing was nice, and I’m trying to find out how it fits into our other readings.  Perhaps I will get a better idea after tonight’s class.