What are "newcomer" programs? What are their pros and cons?

Newcomer programs are programs designed for recent immigrants at the secondary school level who have little or no English proficiency, and limited or no formal education in their native countries. These programs have been developed to meet newcomers' needs before they enter into general education classrooms. The goals of newcomer programs are mainly to help kids develop linguistic survival skills and start adapting to the new culture.

Establishing newcomer programs is a complex process. Leadership is an important component to clearly outline the vision and structure of the program. The program goals and objectives need to be realistic, and the design must be able to meet the actual needs of the learners. The program should make use of the primary languages used by the group of students to be served. Issues such as: grade levels, course offerings, scheduling, instructional materials, curricular design, assessment should also be carefully considered.

Personnel necessary for newcomer programs include teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, translators and interpreters, native speakers, family members and parents, and people from the local community.

Although fairly recent in the United States, newcomer programs offer another opportunity for immigrant students to have their linguistic, social, and cultural needs met since in some cases, traditional English as a second language and bilingual programs are not designed to address those particular needs.

The major challenge of newcomer programs is the level of complexity involved in creating and running them. Unless stakeholders have a clear vision of the program mission, design, and needed resources, it may not root and thrive.

The sites below provide additional information on newcomer programs. You can also learn more in our newcomer section.