Missouri’s growing population of immigrants means increased demand for teachers of English as a second language. The state’s Hispanic population is growing rapidly but Hispanics are not the only immigrants coming into Missouri in large numbers. Refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in recent months; Bosnians have been coming here since the conflict in their part of the world; Sizeable numbers of Vietnamese came here after the war in their country ended. The State Education Department estimates there are 80 languages spoken in Missouri. Overseeing the program that teaches adults English as a second language is Sherri Fetzer. She says teachers do more than teach words. Fetzer says teaching techniques are about the same, regardless of the person’s native language. She says the casual nature of American English, and our constantly changing slang makes learning harder.Missouri had about 12,000 adults in ESL classes last year, with about 160 teachers. She says teacher training is available in colleges, but it’s mostly at the graduate level. She says the state education department is working on a program to train people licensed as English teachers to become teachers of English as a second language.
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