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									                      BCSTA Chinese Translation 2007 2 19.doc



                                  ESL FORUM COVERAGE

The following stories, written by reporter Li-Li Su, originally appeared in the Ming Pao
Newspaper February 10, 2007 edition.

http://www.mingpaovan.com/htm/News/20070210/vab1h.htm

Expert Warns: ESL Students Become Mainstream, Dropout Rate as High as 80%,
Education System Need Restructuring

UBC Linguistics Professor Lee Gunderson expressed yesterday that BC is not only facing an ESL
problem, but also English, as a foreign language problem. As it stands, students at certain schools
rarely speak English, and the dropout rate within ESL classes is as high as 80%.

He regrettably said: “The premise of ESL is based on an English speaking mainstream
environment at the student’s school and community; however, English has become a minority
language in some schools and its respective municipalities. Students are not communicating in
English on the playgrounds, and the teacher is the only person whose mother tongue is English in
a classroom.”

Gunderson warns that the current dropout rate amongst secondary school ESL students has
reached 40%. Within the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities, this number is as high as 80%.
The current education system targets and is designed for students who speak English as their
mother tongue; the government and school board needs to completely revamp the current
program. To prevent a downward spiral of this current trend, ESL training classes should be part of
the education curriculum for teachers, and the government should also allocate budget, plan and
procure training material designed for ESL students.

The traditional view believes that one’s English abilities will be enhanced as the ESL student is
mixed into the non-ESL classes. However, Gunderson discovered that a set of teaching material
that targets ESL students is the key success factor in blending the ESL student into the
mainstream curriculum. Gunderson completed a learning progress comparison study (using the
aforementioned principle) between two classes within the Richmond school district; one class had
a higher percentage of ESL students, and one class had a lower percentage blend. At the end of
the school term, he discovered that the progress of the students in the higher ESL percentage
blend class excelled beyond the lower ESL percentage blend class in reading and vocabulary
recognition.

Gunderson believes that the extraordinary result is due to the teacher of the higher ESL
percentage blend class, who supplements the teaching material as needed by the ESL students.
On the contrary, the teacher of the lower ESL blend class believes that the class progress is
already doing well, therefore do not need additional teaching supplements. “But I’ve also heard
some griping from teachers stating that the government has not allocated budget for the teachers
to purchase supplement ESL learning material.”




Translated by Swan Lee emailswan@gmail.com                                          Page 1 of 4
                     BCSTA Chinese Translation 2007 2 19.doc



http://www.mingpaovan.com/htm/News/20070210/vab2.htm

Immigrants Become Canada’s Predominant Labourers in 10 Years Time

The BC School Trustees Association held their first ESL forum yesterday. Lee Gunderson
(UBC Linguistics Professor), Wally Oppal (BC Multicultural Minister), Chris Friesen (Service
Director of the Immigrant Services Society of BC), Marilyn Kwok (School Principle of Cascade
Heights Elementary School), Diana Mumford (Burnaby School Trustee), Ozlem Sensoy (SFU
Assistant Professor of the Education Faculty), and Bill Siksay (Federal MP) made up the
panel that discussed on the topic of ESL education.

Siksay pointed out that the number of ESL students would increase and not decrease.
According to the Federal government’s estimates, immigrants will become Canada’s
predominant new labourers within 10 years time. By 2020, Canada’s major population growth
will be due to immigrants. If Canada cannot provide a complete and resourceful education,
immigrants will be inhibited from contributing in the society. The fact of the matter is, some of
these immigrants have emigrated back to Asia.

Mumford is concerned about the increase in student immigrants who are 16 years old and/or
older. She pointed out that due to the lack of basic English foundation, a high percentage of
these student immigrants who are older than 16 years old often cannot finish their secondary
curriculum by 19 years old, or cannot attain the language requirement in the workforce. She is
worried that if this problem is not rectified within a short period of time, these students could
be creating a social concern.




Translated by Swan Lee emailswan@gmail.com                                         Page 2 of 4
                     BCSTA Chinese Translation 2007 2 19.doc



http://www.mingpaovan.com/htm/News/20070210/vab3.htm

Report Suggests to Abolish 5 Year Limitation, Increase Hiring of 3 Liaisons, and Add
Two Special Classes

At the request of the parents and BC School Trustees Association, Vancouver School Board
(VSB) completed a report that contained more than 20 proposals to improve services for
people who use English as their second language (ESL). The proposed items that have the
most affects on Chinese students and parents include the addition of two new ESL classes
starting September of this year - an ESL class for higher grade levels, and an ESL advanced
class. The proposal will also increase three more multicultural liaison officers, who will ask the
BC government to abolish the limitation where a student can only take ESL classes for up to
five years. In addition, the proposal calls to establish Vancouver as an ESL school district,
where the district will have a priority in hiring education workers with ESL training background
and experience.

Moreover, the report suggests that an ESL consultant should be hired immediately to serve
and provide information resources for secondary schools across the city. There should also
be an increase in the number of ESL assessments and classes at the VSB reception centers,
which will allow schools and multicultural liaison officers to speed up their processing time to
provide service for new immigrant families.

According to this report’s proposal of adding two special ESL classes (an ESL class for higher
grade levels, and an ESL advanced class), the higher grade level ESL class is designed to
help older student immigrants e.g. 16/ 17 years old students who need to attend secondary
school immediately, and establish their English foundation within a short period of time in
preparation for post secondary education. As for the ESL advanced class, it targets existing
ESL students in the school system and provides intense English training to improve their
English language skills.

This report points out that the number of ESL students is greater than the number of English
as mother tongue students in most of Vancouver’s elementary and secondary schools; hence,
Vancouver must be established as an ESL school district. Therefore, the report suggests that
the future hiring process should first consider education workers that have ESL training skills
and experience.

VSB published an ESL current assessment report late last year. They discovered that the
number of ESL students has been increasing year after year; however, the ratio of services
and multicultural liaison officers did not increase accordingly. For example, there are only nine
Chinese liaison officers, and each of these liaison officers need to serve almost 2,000
Chinese students, which has caught the attention of Chinese parents and school trustees.




Translated by Swan Lee emailswan@gmail.com                                         Page 3 of 4
                     BCSTA Chinese Translation 2007 2 19.doc



http://www.mingpaovan.com/htm/News/20070210/vab4.htm

Representative Discouraged By Low Attendance From Chinese Community at Forum

The Vancouver representative of the Vancouver ESL Committee and ESL Network Cynthia
Wong expressed excitement towards the first ESL Discussion Panel. She feels that having
everyone sit down to discuss issues surrounding the ESL problem is “very inspiring”. It is
already a good start to know that so many education experts view ESL education with such
importance. However, it is regrettable that Chinese parents and representatives are not as
enthusiastic about this issue; in fact, she was the only Chinese parent and representative to
attend the event.

Vancouver School Board (VSB) multicultural liaison officer, Elisabeth Chan has personally
experienced many of the issues that were raise during the forum. She pointed out that some
of the new student immigrants have a high attendance absence rate because they do not
understand the context of the class, the local education system and school policies. As a
result, they are not motivated to attend classes. However, it is difficult to attend to all the
students from 109 schools between the 8 Chinese liaison officers in Vancouver.

Chan said that many parents do not understand the local education system; they think that as
long as the student’s grades have improved that they do not need to care about class
participation and school activities. However, this creates a dependency within the student,
where they become passive about learning and is lacking in analytical skills.




Translated by Swan Lee emailswan@gmail.com                                        Page 4 of 4

								
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