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Cassie Szmyd

SED 227
ELL Interview
April 12, 2016
ELL Interview
I interviewed Mrs. Susan Molnar who is an ESL teacher employed by
the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit. She teaches at two elementary
schools (McCullough and Sunrise) in the Penn Trafford School District.
She teaches four ELL students at McCullough Elementary and one ELL
student at Sunrise Elementary. This interview is based around the
students at both McCullough and Sunrise Elementary School. This
interview was conducted on March 24, 2016.
1. What are your certifications and what is your teaching
Mrs. Monlar has a total of 23 years of experience in teaching.
Her original certification was in music and then she decided to
gain a specialist certificate in English as a second language. She
is in her ninth year of ESL instruction.
2. What are the Language Performance Proficiency levels of all of
the students you work with?
Mrs. Molnar said that most of her students are transitioning to
new levels as the year progresses. At this point of the school
year, she said that one of her second graders is at levels 4-5 and
her other second grader is at level 3. Her first grader is at levels
4-5 and her kindergarten student is at levels 4-5. Finally, her
new fourth grader is at levels 2-3. She has a wide range of
3. What are some issues that you face on a day-to-day basis while
working with students who are speaking English as their second
Mrs. Molnar said there is a daily need to find ways to scaffold,
differentiate, and adapt instruction for her ELLs so that it is
supportive of their individual needs. She said that the
information on the student must be communicated with the
students classroom teacher to make sure the student is

successful in their classes. Mrs. Molnar also said that one of the
biggest challenges is balancing time for meaningful
communication with teachers and time for meaningful
4. What are some issues that the ELLs face on a day-to-day basis
while completing their school work in their second language
Mrs. Molnar said that the issues the students face solely depend
on their language proficiency level. Students at the lowest levels
are challenged the most. She said that care needs to be taken
so that they are being challenged enough to learn, but also
provided some scaffolding so that they are not overwhelmed.
For example, if a student needs extra help, they may need extra
support. That extra support could include, but not limited to,
graphics, photos, realia, TPR, strategic seating, and carefully
planned assignments. Students who receive this type of
instruction tend to do better than those who dont receive as
much support within the classroom.
5. How is your students culture similar and different to the culture
here in the USA?
Mrs. Molnar said that two of her students were adopted prior to
the start of kindergarten, so they are growing up in families
where English is spoken and the family life involves American
customs. The other two students Mrs. Molnar works with, who
are both from the same family, have Asian backgrounds. She
said the family with the Asian background is very interested in
exposing the children to American holidays and customs, but
that they also celebrate some of their holidays like the Chinese
New Year. Her final student has one parent that is American and
one parent that is Eastern European. The student was raised in
Europe for ten years before moving to the states, but he is aware
of many American ways because of his family background.
6. What is the hardest part for a student about coming to a new
country? Cultural, linguistic, and ethnic aspect of it?
Mrs. Molnar believes the answer to this question is different for
every student. She said it often depends on the personality of
the student, the home support, and the school climate. Mrs.
Molnar said that some students experience culture shock to a
greater degree than others.

7. Have any of your students struggled socially or emotionally when

coming to a new school and learning English as their second
Mrs. Molnar said that in her personal experience, the students at
the secondary level have had some of the greatest difficulties.
Those students at that level had very limited English skills and
limited understating of the American culture. She said that the
environments in the middle school and the high school could
make it very difficult for students to find their place. However,
learning English while trying to be successful both in higher-level
academic classes and navigating the social aspects of high
school is very difficult. Mrs. Molnar said it is not impossible, but
it is not easy.
8. What are some of the critical aspects of teaching and working
with students are learning English as their second language?
Mrs. Molnar said that all of the students must be supported
through scaffolding, differentiating, and adapting of the
instruction. Along with that, she said that it is very important to
consider the students background knowledge and find ways to
make all of the subjects meaningful to them. Finding
opportunities where the students can share their culture, if they
wish to, can be very helpful.
9. What are some of the critical aspects of student learning? What
are some of the most important things for a student to learn?
Mrs. Molnar believes students need to be learning and improving
their proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. She
said that in her experiences in previous years, writing is often the
most difficult task for ELLs and that all four areas are very
important. She also said that students must improve their
academic language usage in order to be successful in school.
What are some of the strategies that work when you teach
an ELL?
Mrs. Molnar uses curriculum materials that are specifically
designed for English Language Learners. The IU provides the
materials for her. Also, she differentiates the language arts
curriculum from the regular classrooms. She has an iPad that
she utilizes with the students that have a number of apps and
online learning platforms that are appropriate for the ELLs.

Do the students seem to enjoy learning English as their
second language?
Mrs. Monlar believes that most students do enjoy the English
instruction. However, she said that designing motivating lessons
that students find engaging is sometimes hard. Therefore, it
makes the work for that day for the ELL a little more difficult.
The students may not rate is as fun, but most students realize
that those kind of lessons are the ones that help them the most.
The students are happy to find that classroom work and
assignments become easier as their English proficiency

I believe that both the interview and the observations that I have
conducted opened my eyes to the realization that ESL teachers are
necessary in a school setting and serve a great importance. The
amount of students entering the USA who do not speak English as their
first language has been on the rise in the past ten to fifteen years.
Those students need the assistance of a certified ESL teacher and their
general education teacher to help them succeed inside and outside of
Throughout my observations and this interview, I could see the
amount of work an ESL teacher puts into teaching the ELL students.
Mrs. Molnar would come in each morning and prepare the work for
each one of her students for that day. She also would work and create
different lessons and activities at home if she did not have the time to
complete them at work. She stated above that it is important to make

sure the work is individualized for every student. With that individual
work comes communication and teamwork from both the general
education teacher and the ESL teacher. The number of general
education teachers the ESL works with depends on how many ELL
students there are. Mrs. Molnar has to work with five general
education teachers because she has five ELL students. That can
definitely become overwhelming at times, but she is great with
communicating and understanding what the general education teacher
needs of her. On the other hand, the general education teachers are
very accepting and understanding of everything that Mrs. Molnar works
on with the students. Teamwork is necessary for the student to be
successful in learning the English language and in school. Mrs. Molnar
puts a lot of time and effort into her job. She understands that the
learning can be difficult at times, but she makes sure that her students
are enjoying the learning and having fun while learning.
With that being said, receiving the certification to become an ESL
teacher is something I would not consider right now. I would most
certainly welcome ELLs into my classroom and work as a team with the
ESL teacher to make sure the ELL is receiving the best education
possible. However, as I continue to grow as an educator, I may want to
receive the certification, depending on my classroom.