Latino ELL Students: A Case Study

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Spanish is the most common language that English Language Learner (ELL) students speak or understand, and is quickly becoming an important language in the United States of America (US). (López & González-Barrera, (2013). Massachusetts is home to a large and growing population of Latino ELL students (Fry, & Gonzales, 2008, Rennie Center, 2007).
These students come from diverse national, socioeconomic and linguistic backgrounds. Some may be highly educated, others may have had very limited or no formal education. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, school districts in Massachusetts for the year 2015-2016 have 19% Latino students and 9% ELL students (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2016).
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In order to encourage parents to participate in this way, schools need to improve communication across linguistic and cultural barriers. Schools can create organizational structures to help parents participate in schools. Schools can hire an intermediary such as a bilingual liaison who can can make Latino parents aware of the power structure of US schools and provide linguistic support to help them navigate it.
In the US, parents play important role in students’ education, so it is important to develop relationships with parents (Quiocho & Daoud, 2006; Zarate, 2007). In the United States, parental involvement in the school is considered a positive influence on students’ education. Schools in the US must explain to Latino families the purpose of parent teacher conferences and actively recruit families to participate in them. Schools should offer conferences at times when working parents can attend them and provide interpreters and
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Some students may come from urban areas; others from a small town with small classroom environments. All of these students can enrich the curriculum with stories of their customs, experiences and lifestyle.
Schools must hire staff that reflect the cultural diversity of their students. Many Latino ELL students feel more comfortable opening up to other Latino students and to bicultural staff. Teachers must remember that their Latino students may come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and not assume that all Latino students are poor or deprived. Many students’ families may have been economically poor in their home countries, but other families were middle class or elites forced to emigrate due to circumstances in their home countries. Teachers who are unaware of Latin American cultural norms may misinterpret students’ behavior as disrespectful and demonstrating low academic engagement. Examples of student behavior that can be negatively interpreted include failure to make direct eye contact, no questioning of authority, and failing to engage in classroom

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