What's in a name? Potentially, a lot of damage to self-esteem, argue a growing number of bilingual educators who object to labeling students "limited English proficient."
Several bilingual-education experts sought to sensitize officials of
the U.S. Education Department's office of bilingual
education and minority-languages affairs to the issue last week. The forum, fittingly enough, was an event obemla had entitled the ''National Research Symposium on Limited-English- Proficient Students' Issues."
Addressing obemla officials and other colleagues from the field, the experts argued that the lep label emphasizes the limitations of language-minority students and makes them feel inferior to their monolingual English peers, thereby discouraging them in school.
Else V. Hamayan, coordinator of training and services at the Illinois Resource Center in Des Plaines, urged the symposium participants to switch to using the acronym "pep," for "potentially English proficient."
Anne Willig, a bilingual-education expert from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, suggested calling the students "le," for "learners of ' English."
Rita Esquivel, director of obemla, said she had not heard any objections to the l.e.p. label until the symposium, and added that she did not know if she would seek to have her agency use another term. "We have to give it some thought," she said.
Students who are learning English as a second language can significantly improve their
language skills by watching closed-captioned television,
concludes a recent longitudinal study commissioned by the
National Captioning Institute.
Susan Neuman, an associate professor of elementary education at Temple University, conducted the 12-week study involving 129 7th- and 8th- grade students from Asian and Hispanic backgrounds living in Lowell, Mass.
The students were exposed
twice a week to "3-2-1 Contact," the public-televison science
series. While one randomly $igned group of children watched the
programs on closed-captioned television, a second watched them on
regular TV, a third read and listened to texts
of the show, and a fourth simply read the texts.
When administered several written tests of their ability to