Growing number of students face the challenge of a new language

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM.

As new demands come down from state education officials and the population of ELLs grows in Okaloosa County, the district is fine-tuning efforts to help students become proficient in English.

Right now, officials are finalizing a new ESOL district plan and website. They still are seeking input from parents and the public about it before they finalize it.

District officials also are building up a parent leadership council specifically for ESOL classes. They hope to have more activities to support the ELL students and their families soon.

Even as those steps are taken, population growth in schools hasn’t let educators slow down and wait for the details to get worked out.

For example, Fort Walton Beach had 28 students last year who were identified as ELL. This year it has 40, according to Assistant Principal Joe Peterson.

Of those 40 students, only 12 did not know any English when they arrived, he said. They did, however, speak five languages.

With that in mind, the school is working with the district to try to hire someone part-time to give the students even more one-on-one help.

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