In a way, widespread, mandatory public education began as "ESL".
At the turn of the last century, schools were established nationwide--and schooling became a requirement--as a response to growing numbers of immigrants. Education (and the learning of English) was a way to "americanize" immigrant children. Schooling remains largely an "americanizing" institution today. Kids learn about the history of the United States, and say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
The Supreme Court has ruled that ESL services be provided to all students, and that schools do not have the right to demand proof of citizenship or resident alien status.
A lot of educators point out that demands regarding English proficiency are potentially unfair. For example, were all immigrants required to be fluent English speakers, immigration would be largely limited to immigrants from English-speaking countries (that is, white people).
As for students, children are required by law to attend school. Keeping ESL students out of school would break that law. It would also keep ESL kids behind other students, since English is not the only subject taught in school. An ESL kid kept out of school would earn English very slowly at home (if at all), and would have next to no opportunities to learn math and other subjects. What would become of such a child when she or he grows up?
Are you currently confronted with the challenges of teaching an ESL student?
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