#131 for Internationally Adopting Parents
July 12, 2010
PAL Center Inc.
accept patients in his Phoenix, AZ office
on September 13-24, 2010
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Exiting ESL Program
ESL is a required subject
for any non-English speaking child and was created with the best interests
of the immigrant children in mind. It would ease their way into the
American schooling system and culture, helping at the time when the
family is not ready to do it on their own, continuing to speak their
native language in the family and often struggling with the same problems.
Internationally adopted kids are a different story - they, in the
majority of cases, arrive into a completely English speaking environment,
with all necessary support at home. For them ESL may be not the best
option after an initial familiarization with the school; typically
they need to catch up in academic subjects where they lag behind for
many reasons. For them testing out of an ESL is often a problem, but
staying in it is a problem too.
Below is the question
of a parent and Dr. Gindis' answer about how to proceed in such situation.
years ago we visited you with our daughter. Since our meeting she
has been attending school and ESL. Now we are being told that she
needs to stay in ESL for another year. We are afraid that it may be
detrimental to her learning. Our daughter does need help with reading
and writing, but her Russian language is completely gone. We think
the time she has missed from the regular class has actually hindered
her learning. We would like to know what your opinion is.
is so typical that we have developed a special service called "Expert
Letter Writing". In essence, that's what this service is:
I see a child in my office and administer the test called: Bilingual
Verbal Ability Test, Russian Form. Based on this testing, I write
an affidavit that the child does not have the Russian language at
all and her only language (and in this sense - her native language)
is English. My next step is to prove that the child is not eligible
for ESL according to the NYS educational regulations because:
She is a monolingual, English only child
She lives in a monolingual, English only family
She has been receiving all school instructions in
the English language only.
Due to all of the above, this child is not eligible
for ESL, does not need ESL and is to be released from the ESL instructions
In many cases and in addition to the Expert Letter, parents
asked for an educational (not psychological) evaluation to determine
their child's educational progress and current needs in reading, writing
and math. This kind of evaluation results in an objectively measured
academic status and the updated remedial program for the child. This
extension of the Expert Letter is particular useful if a child has an
IEP and if a child failed the NYSLET (a major exit test for ESL). The
educational update is only available to families whose children had
been assessed by me initially (their base initial measurements are available
to me to compare against and measure the progress).
How some orphans really feel when they're adopted
During our first night in a hotel in Ukraine,
after she was officially "ours", she couldn't or wouldn't
stop screaming. The only time she was quiet was when she sneaked out
into the hallway and tried to run away. "I was so scared",
she says now. "I didn't know what adoption was. I thought I was
being kidnapped. "
Things didn't immediately get better when we got to America.
For months after she came home, she would often kick or spit at me if
I tried to get physically near her. Once she even grabbed a kitchen
knife and put it on her neck, as if she was going to slit her throat
if I got any closer. "At that moment I wanted to die," she
says. " I was angry at everybody, at you, at my first parents,
at the world. I didn't know I would ever feel better."
But she did start to get better. She loved our dog and
enjoyed her new toys. She even started being civil to my husband and
myself, and we thought we were out of the woods: far from it, as it
turned out. When Maria had been home about six months, she began having
rages and tantrums, and now I know why. She was losing her ability to
speak Russian, which is typical for kids adopted into families that
speak another language. The English was pushing out the Russian, but
she still couldn't speak much English. "I had no language to think
in, " she says. "I thought I was going crazy. I was losing
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