I originally earned my teaching certificate in Michigan, but taught English and ESL in North Carolina at both the high school and college levels.
You are asking a very open-ending question; in my experience, you will need to get to know your students personally and see what their unique needs are in order for you to become an advocate for them.
I don't mean to get too political, but with the end of DACA this is a scary time for a lot of ELLs. Many of them came out of the shadows to receive DACA protection, and now their safety and their futures are in jeopardy in this country. Many students who have been receiving DACA protection will need moral and legal support in the coming months and years. You can contact our state legislators and any local advocacy groups to try to encourage them to support these students.
Outside of DACA, some of the common issues my ELL students experienced were the basic issues of poverty: lack of basic school supplies, lack of food, lack of appropriate winter clothing, lack of transportation, temporary housing, working low laying jobs....all of which affected their ability to focus on school. As you get to know your students and as they begin to trust you, these issues will present themselves to you and you can advocate for them in various ways, such as respecting their privacy and their trust, making accommodations for their situations in your classroom, and helping them access any available community resources that can help them.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the ELLs who I taught were very wealthy. They had unique needs as well and still faced issues such as racism; however they were better able to focus on their schoolwork because they had lower stress levels and could afford basic necessities such as school supplies, as well as "extras" such as private tutors.
I respect you for pursuing this field. Good luck to you! If you want to get an idea of this sort of work before you enter the field full-time, look up ESL volunteer opportunities in your community and you can find various groups where you can work for a few hours per week to get an idea of how you can best meet students' needs and advocate for them.
Last updated Oct 13 '17 at 09:43