DREAMer Deportation Waivers Spur Demand for ESL Teachers

Young immigrants seek American education

As of late this summer, young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children can now apply for a two-year deportation waiver, according to Department of Homeland Security regulations. Candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Arrived in the U.S. prior to age 16
  • Currently under age 30
  • Has lived in the U.S. for at least five continuous years
  • Has earned a U.S. high school diploma or a GED, or has served in the armed forces
  • Carries no significant criminal record

Candidates must provide proof of age, residency and U.S. entry date to qualify for the waiver. The applicant must submit to a biometric scan and are subject to a background check. 

President Obama’s scaled-back DREAM Act spares young, undocumented, U.S.-educated immigrants from expulsion when they apply to college or enter into theworkforce. Nearly 72,000 eligible candidates have applied for deferred action and work permits since August’s policy implementation. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) – a nonpartisan group – estimates that 1.2 million youths may be eligible for the program.

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K-12 DREAMers Ready for Benefits, Create Demand for ESL Teachers

Laws guarantee that students are allowed to enroll in public K-12 schools regardless of immigration status as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Plyler v. Doenearly 30 years ago. However, students often face questionable futures because many fear deportation when trying to pursue life after graduation in America. The DREAM Act’s newest shape could mean new futures for more than 700,000 K-12 students, including 150,000 undocumented high school students, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Earning a high school diploma or a GED to qualify for the act’s educational requirement is now viewed as a necessity by many DREAMers.

This influx of non-English-speaking students has created immense demand for bilingual and English as second language (ESL) teachers in today’s public school system as well as adult literacy and GED teachers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects ESL teacher employment will grow 13 percent by 2018.

Language barriers can cause traditional teachers to feel underprepared to provide necessary support for English-language learners. Also, ESL students have an educational disadvantage when placed in a classroom without additional support and instruction. On the other hand, ESL teachers are trained to create meaningful educational experiences for English-language learners within the traditional classroom and in special learning environments that bridge learning gaps between English and the student’s first language.

Education Strategies for the ESL Learner

ESL teachers have a variety of pedagogy techniques at their disposal when teaching English-language learners in a classroom setting. Finding the right technique to fit the needs of the student is key in facilitating a robust and effective educational experience that will benefit students and prepare them for continued education.

  • English Immersion: This common instructional approach requires classroom instruction to be delivered completely in English as a way to encourage learning. Schools are mandated to use this technique in many states with large populations of ESL students to help manage time and resources.
  • Bilingual Education: English is incorporated progressively into daily lessons until the student is prepared to enter a traditional, all-English-speaking classroom. Statistics continuously support this ESL instructional approach as students have been shown to score higher on English-proficiency exams than their peers, who were taught using English immersion.
  • Dual-Language Learning: Integrated classrooms of English and foreign-speaking students are taught using both languages to facilitate a cooperative, engaging and multi-cultural learning environment. Advocates of this instructional technique applaud its method of promoting students to become bilingual in an increasingly diverse society – not just ESL students.

Bilingual education has a number of critics. Legislation under the No Child Left Behind Act has eliminated the Bilingual Education Act, ultimately reducing its support

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and dual-language pedagogy methods in today’s classrooms. ESL teachers should be equipped to deliver educational support using a variety of teaching methods to foster a dynamic and effective learning environment for all students in today’s public school system.

The DREAM Act gives undocumented youths temporary legal status, allowing them to enroll in college or serve in the U.S. military to secure a more prosperous future. These two-year deferrals are renewable. There is much support in the Latino community for the DREAM Act, according to a 2011 Pew Hispanic Center Survey, especially for the educational support it would provide students.

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