One of my plans for retirement, aside from traveling as much as possible, was to focus more attention on advocacy.  It was difficult to do this while working for a school for two reasons.  One was obviously time.  Visits to many of the people at the local and state level needed to occur during working hours.  Secondly, such visits were discouraged by the district because they wanted their 'authorized' representatives making the contacts.  One of the biggest problems with that is those representatives did not understand the issues specific to second langauge students.

Working the English Language Learners is much more than just teaching a language.  The job by its very nature becomes a combination of social worker, employment counselor, cultural liaison, ambassador, nurse, chauffeur, and sometimes surrogate parent.  (Not because the parents are abandoning their role, but often may not understand what is expected of parents in their new country.)  One additional critical role that ESL/ESOL/ bilingual teachers play is that of the voice for the voiceless.  


When I first moved to Columbus, OH, the major foreign-born population was the Southeast Asian refugees.  Gradually we had other ethnic groups moving into the Central Ohio area:  Ethiopian/Eritreans, Ukrainians, Latinos, East Indians, Chinese and Japanese.  The growth in our ESL classrooms was slow but steady.  Then in the mid-1990s, the stream became a flood.  Somali refugees had found Columbus!



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