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What is the Difference Between Bilingual and VESL Programs?

The swell of non-native English speakers in classrooms across America has forced the educational system to re-imagine education. With so many immigrants unable to speak English fluently, instruction in the English language is now a necessity, not an option. As the number of non-native speakers continues to grow, the need for English language instruction grows right along with it.

The need for English language instruction is not limited to just those who come to the US. People around the globe are studying English in record numbers in the hopes of relocation and upward mobility. Some wish to work in a global company in their home country. Others would like to move to an English-speaking country to create a financially stable life for their families.

While the VESL teacher and bilingual teacher are oftentimes used interchangeably, they are different. The way they teach English uses two different approaches: VESL instruction and bilingual education. Although their teaching methods are different, their goal of English language proficiency in reading, listening, writing, and speaking fluently is the same. So, two methods, one goal.

The VESL Teacher

The primary role of VESL teachers is to teach the English grammar, sentence structure and pronunciation in addition to the four core skills. In the VESL class, students come from diverse cultural backgrounds, and speak different languages. However, irrespective of their mother tongue, they all learn the target language in English. The teacher may or may not speak a second language, but it is not relevant to the VESL classroom. Being bilingual can certainly be advantageous, particularly when it comes to explaining difficult grammatical rules and concepts. Nonetheless, bilingual abilities are not mandatory in the VESL classroom.

The VESL teacher is tasked with aiding comprehension even when the student is perplexed. A bilingual teacher could use their second language skills to help their students understand complex grammatical rules. It would fall short, however, because several languages will be spoken among the students and the teacher would not be able to help everyone in their mother tongue. So, classroom activities may be limited because of this. However, with consistent instruction and practice, the student will be able to acquire a good, working knowledge of the English language.

The Bilingual Classroom

Bilingual teachers do speak the language of their students. In America, Spanish is the most widely spoken second language. Thus, in a bilingual classroom of Spanish speakers, the bilingual teacher would also be fluent in Spanish.

Unlike VESL, a bilingual education is not just limited to the study of English. All core subjects are taught in the native language of the students. These subjects are also taught in English. Why? Because the goal is fluency in both English and Spanish. This is possible because students in the bilingual class all have the same mother tongue. Bilingual classrooms offer a great learning environment for VESL language students due to the shared language and same end-goal. Communication among the students is often not a barrier.

Where VESL and Bilingual Meets

In both settings, students often have limited English speaking abilities. However, both disciplines are committed to the student’s success in the classroom. They aim to provide a nurturing environment that cultivates an understanding of the English language, and its application to practical living. In doing so, teachers connect their students from other countries to their new environments.

In America, English improves the lives of immigrants, and teachers aim to give them the needed tools for success in their new country. It is the role of both teachers to aid the students’ successful integration into their local communities.

Secondly, they both promote bilingualism. And, as the number of non-native speakers in American schools continues to grow, there will be a constant need for VESL/bilingual teachers to fill critical shortages. So, while immigrants continue to fill up the classrooms of schools all over America, bilingual and VESL educators will continue to be in demand.

What is a Vocational ESL Program?

A Vocational ESL program (VESL) helps language learners master comprehensive English communication skills in a way that will help within a career or job. It is a very important part of the immigrant’s journey in this country. Learning English is invaluable training that opens employment doors for all types of workers. The fluency that they acquire at a vocational ESL school is a major part of their workplace success. They receive practical English that helps them communicate in real life situations.

The job readiness that they receive in vocational school, along with practical English communication skills such as reading, writing, communicating, and comprehension help them fulfill the dream that brought them to America. Their vocational ESL school experience gives them the confidence and qualifications to move into different positions and excel.

With a VESL program, you not only learn to read, write, listen, and speak fluently in English, you also learn job-related vocabulary, correct pronunciation of difficult English words, grammar, and sentence structure. All this English knowledge and job-training translates to the acquisition of highly valuable skills that are in demand. For instance, if you’re working in the hotel or restaurant business, you can learn vocabulary that deals with the hospitality industry.

In addition, after the VESL program, you can continue on to get an education in one of the school’s career related programs. Careers in information technology, accounting, business management, HR management, and HVAC are a few of the professions that continue to demonstrate market growth. Therefore, a vocational education is a viable path to career success and can make you a job candidate that employers notice. It is a deposit in your future that can have a significant return on your investment.

Who Should Attend a VESL Program?

A VESL Program is good for any job-seeking immigrant or refugee, and anyone who seeks to advance their career, but does not speak English fluently. A VESL program can equip you with the skills you need to get a good job or qualify for advancement opportunities. Office workers and other employees who work in skilled trades can benefit from the coursework that a solid vocational education provides.

VESL programs are accredited and meet the same rigorous standards of excellence as does other classroom instruction. So, if you’ve dreamed of going to vocational school to learn a skilled trade, and learn to speak fluent English, there is no better time than now.

Final Thoughts

Once you have determined that the VESL option is right for you, Interactive College of Technology is here to help. Take advantage of all our resources that are there to help you succeed in your adopted American homeland. Note that when you begin your studies at a vocational school, you are embarking on a journey that is charting your course for success. You will be a part of an ever-growing international community with whom you can communicate with whether near or far. And, telling a potential employer that you speak English is a competitive advantage. It’s a win-win.

Want to Learn More?

Our Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) training program is designed for student success. Interactive College of Technology offers live online English classes that fit into your busy schedule, so you can support your family with an VESL education made for you.

Four levels of courses help you to comprehend the English language by combining lecture, lab, class discussion and group activities. This effective method ensures VESL students are provided English language skills as well as cultural transference.

Let’s learn English together! Contact us now to learn more.

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