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Column: ELL Department busy at middle school

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- Greetings from the English Language Learner department at Worthington Middle School.

As the new school year is off and running, we have been very active. We have many new students from all over the world including Thailand, Guatemala, Mexico, Eritrea, Ethiopia, China, Vietnam, Honduras, El Salvador, Liberia, Laos and Myanmar. The students enjoy sharing information about their culture while getting acclimated to their new lifestyle in Worthington. Some of our new students will be experiencing snow for the first time this winter. Brrrr!

Not only did the ELL population increase, but the staff and student body increased as well due to the addition of the fifth-grade wing. With so many new students, we have increased our ELL department by hiring two new teachers. Margaret Carlson, who teaches seventh grade, recently graduated from Bethel University with a triple major in ELL K-12, Spanish K-12 and Spanish. She is also fluent in Spanish, and very excited about her new career as a teacher. Jessica Beilke, the new eighth-grade teacher, is also just starting out in her teaching career. Jessica graduated from Stetson University in 2008 with a degree in German; she is now certified to teach German and ESL. Liezl Butzon has been teaching ELL for 13 years, and has a full plate this year -- she's teaching both fifth and sixth grades. She is also serving as a mentor teacher for the two new hires.

So far, there have been many fun lessons that have been presented including lessons on literature, U.S. history and even common food names. The best part about teaching non-English speakers or limited-English speakers is that the teachers are not able to lecture all day. We have incorporated many fun games into the program this year including noun-racing, quick-fire circles, sparkle and other hands-on experiments. The technology component of the ELL department is very up-to-date. We are working with interactive smartboards, iPod touches, computers and Accelerated Reader, which all help to increase language proficiency.