While their peers discuss Shakespeare, too many city students in bilingual classes are stuck learning words such as “desk” and “chair,” immigrant advocates charged yesterday.

As thousands of city students took the English Regents exam yesterday, a new report said poor instruction has made it difficult for students in bilingual and English-as-a-second language programs to pass the Regents.

Only 30.3% of seniors in bilingual and ESL classes made it to graduation last year, compared with 52.6% of English-speaking seniors, according to the report by Advocates for Children and the New York Immigration Coalition.

Jill Chaifetz, executive director of the Advocates for Children, said too many unqualified instructors are teaching English on the side.

“They may be terrific gym teachers, but they have no qualifications to be teaching people English,” she said.

Foreign-born students also are hurt by a three-year-old requirement to pass the English Regents in order to graduate.

Board of Education spokeswoman Catie Marshall said officials were taking extra steps to find and train qualified bilingual teachers. “When you are getting kids coming into the country when they are in high school, it is very difficult,” she said.



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