News

Milford ESOL program serves wide range of students

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MILFORD – The 44 students in the Milford School District’s English for Speakers of Other Languages program come from a wide background.

Their languages include Bosnian, Dutch, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodia), Mandarin, Nepali, Patois (Jamaica), Romanian, Swahili, Thai, Ukrainian and Urdu (Pakistan). Of those students receiving direct services, only 20 percent have a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking background, Denis Jobin, director of the ESOL program, said in a presentation to the school board recently.

New immigrants receive daily services, he said.

Initially, staff members shadow new immigrants, making sure they manage basic needs, such as using the cafeteria.

“Then we start with English instruction,” Jobin said. “It’s a long process. Most become conversational within two years.”

Of the 29 students receiving direct services, 16 are at Heron Pond Elementary School, 10 are at the middle school and three are at the high school.

Another 15 students have met state standards for academic English proficiency and are being monitored until the end of a two-year probationary period.

The board wanted to know how ESOL students show up on standardized assessment tests. Jobin said they’re exempt from the reading portion of the New England Common Assessment Program, but must take the math portion, although their scores don’t count until they’ve been in the United States for one year.

The ESOL program has a new master plan prompted by the state Department of Eduction recommendations that it reflect the new kindergarten program, new state expectations and other changes. The board approved the plan by a 5-0 vote.

– KATHY CLEVELAND

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