WP21 Integrating School-Aged ESL Learners into the Mainstream Curriculum

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The concept of ?integrating ESL learners into the mainstream curriculum? has been the subject of debate amongst educationalists and policy makers in many parts of the English-speaking countries in the past thirty years. The issues concerning the integration of ESL students into the mainstream curriculum are multi-dimensional – the label of ESL itself appears to be part linguistic, part educational, part social and part political. The main purpose of this chapter is to give an account of the multidimensionality of ESL curriculum and practice. The developments in ESL curriculum and pedagogy within the mainstream education system will be looked at first. The influences of wider concerns such as social integration, and rights and entitlements to equal opportunity in public provision will be discussed next; recent experiences in California, England and Victoria will be drawn on to illustrate the multi-dimensional nature of ESL policy and practice. This chapter will conclude with some deliberations on the formulation of an analytical framework which may be used to critically examine any ESL curriculum and practice. The central assumption throughout this chapter is that ESL in mainstream schooling can only be understood properly if we pay attention to its unique position at the crossroads of educational, social and ideological movements.