Sunday, May 22, 2011


Before diving into why this blog is dedicated to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruction, I would like to take a few sentences to tell my readers about myself. My name is Alfonse Athas. I am currently an English education student at a major university in Florida, and I will be entering my final internship this fall semester (2011). I have had multiple experiences in real classrooms, including an ESL classroom; however, I still consider myself “green.”

I have decided to create this blog, because I have an innate and strong, passionate interest in teaching English for Students of Other Languages (ESOL); however, during my time at my Floridian university, the second language acquisition instruction required of me seemed satisfactory until I entered an actual ESL classroom. During my time in the classroom, I soon discovered my university ESOL instruction did not translate into a real ESL classroom. Personally, I felt failure. Professionally, I was embarrassed. I soon discovered I was not alone in feeling my education in second language acquisition was less than satisfactory. My fellow peers voiced their same concerns as I have: “How am I going to teach students or other languages English, and how am I going to do it effectively?”

During the summer of 2011, I have been given an opportunity to form this blog and report my findings on various educational articles that deal with ESL instruction and methods. Even though my subject may not be “popular” or have a lot of public interest, I hope the information I present will help students, future teachers, teachers, and anyone else with an interest in ESL instruction obtain additional knowledge on various methods used in the second language acquisition field.

In addition, I would like to reiterate that I am a student, and like the teacher profession, I am continuously learning and trying to better my practice.  Alluded previously, my real world experience is minimal; nevertheless, I hope to increase my pedagogic knowledge to better help me in a real classroom.  I welcome comments, questions, ideas, concerns, and any discourse to help not only myself grow as a profession, but maybe to help other individuals with an interest in this subject to grow as well. 


  1. Thank you for your post. Speakers of other languages in our country are too often shunned and treated with impatience- and yet there is so little effort being made to help them integrate in our society by teaching them English! My mom happens to be an ESOL teacher for Spanish speaking elementary kids (and in a night class,their parents), so I am somewhat familiar with what you're shooting for. Great job with the blog, I'll be checking back!

  2. Alfonse,
    I really like the direction you seem to be taking with this blog. In the coming years I can see ESOL education becoming even more vital than it already is. English is often said to be the most difficult second language to learn, to that I think there is no argument. I feel pity for recently arrived immigrants who must struggle to learn the rather broken and nonsensical language that is English, with it's many rules and contradictions. It saddened me that you felt you were unprepared for something you seem so dedicated too. I am sure you would do anything to really achieve something. I know you cannot change the entire ESOL education system at your school, but I look forward to seeing your insights about your own education as you continue down your path.

  3. As a fellow education student, I can relate with your feeling of being unprepared for the real world of teaching ESOL students. So far, I've only taken one ESOL class but the only thing I learned about how to teach ESL students was not from that class, but from an ESOL infused class. What did I learn? You can't assess ESL students the same way you assess traditional students. I learned a lot, hm? One thing I do struggle with, however, is how I am supposed to make modification for ESOL students in an English class. Do you ever struggle with this?

  4. @Laurelle

    I think initially I struggled with the various accommodations and modifications for ESOL students. The main piece of information when forming modifications and accommodations resides in the student’s language acquisition level; for example, is the student pre-production, early production, speech emergence, or intermediate fluency? Once we have identified the student’s language acquisition level, then we should know the different types of modifications and accommodations we should use. For instance, if we have a pre-production student (a student who is basically is monolingual), one modification would be the elimination of requiring him or her to use the target language to explain or express himself. Instead, we would want the student to point to the answer or to kinesthetically produce the answer.

    As for forming modifications for an English class, it is my understanding that normally you should have a student who is at least at the speech emergence level or intermediate fluency level. Usually, modifications for these students involve cutting some of the workload. For example, if your class homework were to read 4 poems, your modification for your ELL would be assigning only two poems. One reason for such a modification is it takes an ELL more time to complete language intensive assignments.

    However, if you happen to have students below the speech emergence level in the mainstream classroom, your modifications and teaching style will surely change. However, I would not feel confident giving any advice on what an English teacher’s modifications would be if you were to have a pre-production or early production student in your regular English classroom. This questions posses a great chance for me to research that topic and report on it. Hopefully, in my next blog post or two, I will cover that question, because I don’t think I have the expertise or knowledge to accurately answer that part of the question in full.