Let's make Latin American ELL Student's Academic Success a Priority

Let's make Latin American ELL Student's Academic Success a Priority

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LATIN AMERICAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY LEADERS’ COMMITTEE started this petition to Vancouver School Board

(Please note that we are not asking for a monetary donation, the donations that change.org is asking for do not go towards the Latin American Youth Committee, they go to the change.org website)

The LATIN AMERICAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY LEADERS’ COMMITTEE FOR VSB LATIN AMERICAN ELL STUDENTS’ SUCCESS would like for the VSB to address and work towards finding a better way to support Latin American ELL students.

Most ELL ( English Language Learner) level 1 students that enter secondary schools, even from Grade 8, are at a disadvantage. It takes too long to reach regular classes and these students fall behind in other subject areas and many of these students are not able to graduate.

Challenges currently faced by Latin American High School Students in ELL

•      The ELL program takes too long for students to master the language.

•      It seems like students in ELL level one have difficulty graduating.

•      Staying in ELL for 4 to 5 years has a negative impact on students’ academic success.

•      ELL students often fall behind in their academic courses since ELL content is often too basic.

•      Students often feel isolated while attending ELL programs.

•      There seems to be no structure or consistency in how ELL courses are taught.

•      ELL teachers are not required to have an ELL specialization.

Currently, the VSB ELL programs could be called discriminatory because instead of enriching the lives of ELL newcomer students, they are weakening and limiting these students’ academic opportunities. These students and their parents have no voice. They trust that Canada’s education system is fair, but 4 or 5 years of ELL is unacceptable. 

Presently the ELL programs are not standardized. This means that every teacher practices ELL differently and with different materials. There is no standardized method and no textbooks, so students refer to themselves as “lucky” or “unlucky” depending on the school they are at or the teacher they get. If they are “lucky”, they will progress faster. ELL teachers do not need to have an ELL specialization to teach ELL, and ELL students might suffer from this lack of experience.

The pace of ELL instruction is perceived as too slow and students often express boredom and lose interest in their education. It can take up to 4 years for an ELL student to be able to have access to regular academic courses. In those 4 years, they will have fallen behind not only in English but also in Science, Socials, and Math. Students’ self-esteem also suffers and will probably impact these students beyond the post-secondary (if they ever make it that far). As a result of this, some students choose to drop out and not finish school in Adult Education.

ELL students experience silent segregation in schools since many of them express feeling excited about being in high school when they first arrive, but very soon they start feeling isolated. ELL students don’t get to take many classes with students from their same grade, instead, they are placed in a multi-grade ELL classroom. Many of them do not participate in school events and sometimes don't even feel comfortable going to their prom or other events because they lack a sense of belonging. Only when these students acquire enough language to be able to attend regular classes, can they begin the process of integration into Canadian culture and many of them drop out and quit their studies before they reach that level.  

Change is needed:

We need to fix this issue and make these students' academic success a priority. Something needs to change. ELL students need to be taught English by ELL specialized teachers with a clear academic curriculum. It needs to be an intensive and active program, like the programs offered in private language schools. This can be done as a pilot project at one of the Vancouver schools. This way students can learn the language quicker and they will also increase their chances of completing their graduation requirements. 

-We would like to see a report on Dogwood graduation rates for all high school students disaggregated by country of origin, home language, and by school (high schools as well as Adult education) for the past 5 years. We would also like to see this report annually.

-We would like the VSB to create a survey for ELL students and their parents to see how long it is taking students to exit ELL; to find out whether ELL students are experiencing isolation, lack of self-esteem, and depression due to the length of time they are having to stay in ELL; as well as any other questions that might shed light on how ELL is impacting the academic learning of students and their sense of well-being. 
 

-We would like the VSB to hire a committee of language acquisition experts to revise the current ELL programs taught at the VSB and to make recommendations (aligned with the New BC Curriculum) so that students can integrate faster into regular classrooms.

 

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