If you think ESL teaching isn’t important – read on!

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As a trainee or novice ESL teacher, you may think that teaching ESL is just another job, but if you read on you’ll find that the right to an ESL education is something that shouldn’t always be taken for granted and that the ESL teacher can end up providing an indispensable social service: the Aspira Consent Decree is a case in point.

Aspira is a non-profit organization for the betterment of Puerto Rican and Latino youths. In the words of the organization, its goal is: “To empower the Puerto Rican and Latino community through advocacy and the education and leadership development of its youth.” Prior to 1974, there was no bilingual and ESL education in New York City’s state schools: but this was soon to change as a result of the landmark Aspira Consent Decree between the New York City Board of Education and Aspira of New York.

In 1972 Aspira filed a federal lawsuit against the New York City Board of Education for the failure of the latter to properly educate Puerto Rican children whose English was deemed to be insufficient for the purpose of meaningfully participating in lessons taught only in English. Aspira successfully argued that these Puerto Rican students could not participate effectively in classes taught purely in English. As a result, the consent decree established that these students should have a legally enforceable right to an equal education by the mandatory provision of bilingual and ESL lessons.

This example clearly shows that the work of an ESL teacher should not always be viewed as just another job; in this case, it can be seen that ESL teaching provides an indispensable social service: in this case, teaching Puerto Rican and Latino students ESL gave these students the right to equality in education, and the opportunity to realize their ambitions as well as making them feel equal in the eyes of their peers. Interestingly, the Aspira Consent Decree seems to be well supported by Article29 (1) of the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties agree that the basic aims of the education of children are the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential and the preparation of the child for a responsible life.

Education should also be directed to the development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values and for the national values of the country in which the child is living and of the country from which the child may originate, and to the development of respect for different civilisations and the natural environment.” http://www.unicef-irc.org/portfolios/crc.html Aspira is a non-profit organization for the betterment of Puerto Rican and Latino youths.

In the words of the organization, its goal is: “To empower the Puerto Rican and Latino community through advocacy and the education and leadership development of its youth.” Prior to 1974, there was no bilingual and ESL education in New York City’s state schools: but this was soon to change as a result of the landmark Aspira Consent Decree between the New York City Board of Education and Aspira of New York. In 1972 Aspira filed a federal lawsuit against the New York City Board of Education for the failure of the latter to properly educate Puerto Rican children whose English was deemed to be insufficient for the purpose of meaningfully participating in lessons taught only in English.

Aspira successfully argued that these Puerto Rican students could not participate effectively in classes taught purely in English. As a result, the consent decree established that these students should have a legally enforceable right to an equal education by the mandatory provision of bilingual and ESL lessons. This example clearly shows that the work of an ESL teacher should not always be viewed as just another job; in this case, it can be seen that ESL teaching provides an indispensable social service: in this case, teaching Puerto Rican and Latino students ESL gave these students the right to equality in education, and the opportunity to realize their ambitions as well as making them feel equal in the eyes of their peers.

Interestingly, the Aspira Consent Decree seems to be well supported by Article29 (1) of the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties agree that the basic aims of the education of children are the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential and the preparation of the child for a responsible life.

Education should also be directed to the development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values and for the national values of the country in which the child is living and of the country from which the child may originate, and to the development of respect for different civilisations and the natural environment.” http://www.unicef-irc.org/portfolios/crc.html

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