The student I profiled is a tenth grade student at Parkway Central High School in the Parkway School district. To protect his identity, the student will be referred to as Ling. Ling is a fourteen year old male originally from China. Ling has lived in the United States since January 2015. Ling has been attending school in the Parkway School District since he first arrived in the country. Ling’s mother and stepfather moved first to the United States four years ago to make housing preparations for the rest of the family. While Ling attended school in China, he took some English courses. Ling informed me that most students in China take English courses, but the courses are quite basic and easy to pass. When Ling emigrated, he was unable to speak or understand spoken English, and had limited ability in reading and writing in the English language.
Ling has been in the English Language Learning (ELL) program since his arrival into the Parkway School District. Ling’s placement into the ELL program would have been based on his language standardized test scores that is required of all ELL students within the district. In Parkway Central, scores below a 3.0 on the language test qualify a student to be placed in sheltered courses; students may also be placed in a sheltered course based on teacher recommendations or poor grades. Since Ling is an exceptionally bright student, he most likely has been placed in sheltered courses due to his low English proficiency. Ling can be hard to understand in both English and Chinese. His first language interference has caused his pronunciation in English to be skewed. In the Chinese language, no sounds directly correlate with the English /l/ and /r/ sounds; as a result, Ling has issues with his pronunciation since he cannot hear the difference between the two sounds (Barry, 2008). Ling also struggles with the pluralization of words. In his native language, pluralization involves adding a number word in front of the noun, rather than adding an –s to end of a word (Barry, 2008).
Even though Ling can read relatively well in English, his poor pronunciation makes him difficult to understand, and he often has to spell out words in order to let the teacher know what he is asking. Ling also tends to rush his way through his work and not think his way through questions. Most of his missed points on assessments are due to careless errors. Ling also is impatient when class material is being covered, and he often does not wait for the teacher to explain a concept before he asks a question. Finally, Ling has myopia, which has only been recently diagnosed. Ling did not inform his teachers his nearsightedness, so he often was not seated close enough to the board. Without glasses, Ling often has trouble reading words displayed on the board. When Ling remembers to wear his glasses, his myopia does not cause any issues with his learning process.
Ling attends Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri. Central High is a public high school that runs a modified block schedule, in which students attend classes on an A/B/C-days system; C day courses run for 50 minutes and A/B day courses run for 90 minutes. In general, a student’s weekly schedule would be a C/A/B/A/B schedule. The course in which Ling was tested in is ELL Matter and Change. It is a semester physical science course in which students can earn ½ science credit. This class covers multiple physical science topics, including a study of physical and chemical changes, classification of matter, atomic structure, phase changes, the metric system, graphing, the periodic table, laws of conservation of matter and chemical reactions. The class has a significant laboratory component, which emphasizes safety in the laboratory and the experimental process.
Additionally, the course has a strong focus on group discussions, cooperative laboratory practices, and mathematical problem solving. Though this class is traditionally aimed toward ninth grade students, all grade levels of ELL students can take this course if they have low English proficiency based on their language entrance exam. The ELL Matter and Change course is different from the mainstream course in that it is a sheltered, co-taught course. The class is aimed specifically for students who classify as a Level 1, 2, or 3 based on their level entrance exam, and includes an ELL specialist to provide language support alongside the academic content teacher. Ling is classified as a Level 2 Student. In the Parkway School District, a Level 2 is considered to be a developing stage. Ling has some general and specific language to the science content area, and is capable of writing sentences and short paragraphs. Level 2 students often make phonological, syntactic, or semantic errors which hinders their communication with native speakers, but can communicate more clearly when visual support is provided.
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