Meeting the Needs of Children with Diverse Linguistic and Ethnic Backgrounds



ABSTRACT  Meeting the needs of the multilingual student population at King Elementary School posed a challenge. An ESL program met only some of those needs; to meet others, the school adapted the goals and principles of bilingual education. English was the basic language of the school, but non-English speakers were given language arts, in addition to tutoring in other subject areas, in their native language. They also received ESL instruction. At the same time, native English speakers studied a second language. Interculturai education was also emphasized, with the focus on the cultural background of the children and their teachers. The evaluation of the program showed that these students did as well on standardized tests as children from the total school district, that the King children were more willing to accept children speaking a different language, and that the King parents felt the program was successful. As a result, King School was opened to any child in the district, native or non-native English speaker, for whom there was room. This paper reports on the first year of the program.