Understanding English language is very crucial in addressing the needs of learners in schools. Therefore, to enable learners understand English, schools should follow and implement rules or programs that support learners to overcome obstacles in learning English. Teachers should take an initiative to implement research-based programs and resources to help learners in the acquisition of English (Crawford, 2004). Different schools and states in the U.S.A. have designed different approaches to address the issue. For instance, some states such as California support a mandated program to be a structured English Immersion (SEI), whereas, other states support the bilingual programs and English Instruction Programs. On the other hand, other states advocate for the English for the Children Campaign that require learners to be taught only in English language. The argument they put forth is that bilingual education is not appropriate in providing the learners with an appropriate opportunity to learn English. Other opposing views support the notion that English can be acquired through bilingual education which enables immigrant student populations to learn English. Consequently, voters from states such as California support the idea that students can better learn English by being immersed in English instruction.
In Arizona, voter populations need English for the children initiative that requires children to be taught primarily in English. This is similar to the California program that supports a structured English Immersion Program; however, it has fewer opportunities that support the continuation of bilingual programs. However, this program cannot eliminate the bilingual programs but supports more paperwork and has many limitations. The English only initiative had support in the midst of a lawsuit for not providing adequate learning opportunities to learners. However, English-only mandate had criticized because under such programs, schools do not provide the best opportunity to learners. The initiatives support an idea that teachers should acquire a Structured English Immersion in order to keep their certification. However, with additional finances, voters supported the opinion that English learners would not be provided with ESL-endorsed teachers but would rather be distributed to schools taking away time from learners. Voters in Colorado putting a halt to the SEI initiative did not support this initiative. Bilingual education is supported as a program of choice to address the needs of children of diverse cultural backgrounds. Moreover, the Structured English Immersion is a political initiative; hence, is not viewed as an appropriate academic approach. The development of English language forms a major focus of instruction under an initiative dubbed as the “No Child Left Behind Act 2001” (Faltis, 2006).
Another model referred to as the Sheltered Instruction Model Protocol (SIOP) differs from the SEI, because the later is a model and the former is a program. Consequently, the SEI is understood as a political term, hence leading to a misrepresentation of an educational program to meet the requirements of English language learners (Ovando, Collier, & Combs, 2002). Another important initiative is the sheltered instruction where learners acquire English through a comprehensive input of the subject. Most language learners with a transition into the mainstream classroom support this initiative. In addition, an important approach supports learning of the English language but is mostly used by learners are who are proficient in the English language and have some grade-level content instruction by using various strategies to link to the learners’ cultural background. This initiative emphasizes on the use of key terms or vocabulary that enhances various opportunities to use it in integrating required in learning the English language in all lessons. This is an important approach to learning English since it enables learners to achieve the foundations of literacy depending on their cultural backgrounds as well as native language.
Most teachers are misled by an idea that if learners were immersed in English, they would be easily motivated to learn the language. However, if learners have an opportunity to interact with the language through reading books using their native language at home, it would be more beneficial and more supportive to understand English, since learning skills can be easily transferred from one language to another (Krashen, 1981). On the other hand, integrating reading, writing, and listening is a goal of the sheltered instruction because it allows learners to acquire language and understand the content more simultaneously. Moreover, socio-cultural and historical backgrounds can greatly enhance learners’ acquisition of the second language (Diaz-Rico, 2004). Thus, SEI mandates voted in states such as Arizona which have limited the time learners take to be well acquainted with the opportunities of success. On the other hand, the SIOP model extends the period a learner takes to acquire a second language through instructional other learning strategies that makes it more accessible to students and to develop proficiency in a second language.
In conclusion, an appropriate initiative to help learners understand a second language is that which can support teachers in the development and facilitation as well as implementation of lessons that can support the acquisition of literacy that may improve academic achievement of English learners. The best program should adequately prepare learners to learn English and should majorly focus on English skills as well as grammar.