ESL teachers stay ahead of a growing, diverse population

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - There are over 40 languages spoken by children in Midland ISD, creating a melting pot within the district. So how do those that have to teach English as A Second Language get through to their students?

"I've got dynamic teachers that have taken this on," said Joanna Rowley, ELL Director at Midland ISD.

Whether in elementary, junior high, and high school, learning the English language isn't easy, especially for those who didn't grow up speaking it.

"When a new language arrives, we have to research. What does that country look like? What kind of education system did they go through," said Rowley.

Teaching it to them is no easy task either.

"Takes a lot of man-hours to make something happen in those classrooms," said Rowley.

Many hours of training and understanding, imagine speaking Hakha-Chin or Vietnamese and then try to take the STARR test in English. District ESL teachers take time to understand each student's strength and areas of improvement.

"The goal of any language program is to lower the affective filter. If you lower their affective filter and they start to feel comfortable, learning English is a lot easier," said Rowley.

Numbers show It's almost 50/50 of students who speak Spanish to those who speak another language in MISD.

"Cultures from all over the world coming into Midland to be educated and to work," said Rowley.

Leaders like Rowley expect the numbers of students who speak different languages will continue to grow.

The students have done an excellent job getting out of their comfort zone to learn English and ESL teachers have stepped up as well.

"You've got to have a special heart to teach these kids. You've got to want to do it," said Rowley.

The district is discussing opening a newcomer's academy for students in the second through twelfth grade.

For a full year, students will get a broader knowledge of English.

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