ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – They are called English Language Learners (ELL) and in the last five years, the Affton School District has seen an 80 percent increase in students for whom English is not their primary language.
Affton superintendent Steven Brotherton says the ELL students are moving into the district from the city of St. Louis, after they came to the region from foreign countries. The most recent trend he says, is students moving into the area with Vietnamese and Arabic backgrounds.
He says the students arrive with a variety of English skills, some are non-English speakers, but others can speak full sentences, and just need help with “academic language.”
The increase in ELL students has also brought an 8 percent enrollment increase.
The district was a bit unprepared when the Bosnians came in the 1990s, Brotherton says. Those students have come full circle in their assimilation, as one of Affton’s current kindergarten teachers arrived in St. Louis as a fifth-grade student, directly from Bosnia.
Brotherson says there are four teachers on staff that work with ELL students, and sometime translators are needed for parent-teacher conferences.