Springfield schools teach English to parents in new program

The effort is in response to the increase in English Language Learner students.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield City Schools is offering a new program that will teach English to parents of students enrolled in the district.

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course, which started Sept. 6 with about a dozen adults, is taught biweekly in the evenings in a 10-week session by an EL curriculum, assessment and student success coordinator.

“The goal of the course is to immerse the adults in English by learning conversational language, job-based terms and how to speak to their child’s teacher,” said communications specialist Jenna Leinasars.

This program is in response to the increase in English Language Learner (ELL) students in the district. There are now more than 1,000 ELL students, about 14% of the total student population, in the district. The main languages spoken by students outside of English and Spanish are Haitian Creole and French.

“Springfield’s population is rapidly changing, which is having a direct effect on the services we provide to our students and families,” said Pam Shay, director of Federal Programs.

For students, the district works to address the languages and barriers in several ways, including basic and general communication in multiple languages, ESOL teachers, specialized textbooks and materials, bilingual assistants and professional development, Shay said previously.

All ELL students in elementary schools are assigned an ESOL teacher who will touch base with them, keep in contact with their other teachers, see where that student is struggling and then have intervention times for one-on-one or small group assistance. At the middle and high school, there are standalone beginner, intermediate and advanced ESOL classes that are taught by a teacher.

“At the middle and high school levels, non-native English speaking students are enrolled in ESOL courses to help them learn English,” Shay said.

The new program for adults and students, she said.

“The adult ESOL program is a valuable opportunity that the district is offering that allows our new families to explore English alongside one another and build upon each other’s learning,” Shay said.

A second level of the program is planned for the winter so the adults in the pilot course can continue learning.

This course is offered at no charge.

About the Author