Preparing English language learners for academic success

Across the country, public schools are opening their doors to more and more children who speak a language other than English. Nearly every district faces the challenge of helping these children become proficient in the English language while also providing them with a high-quality education.

The task is daunting. English language learners (ELL) are not monolithic. Most have Spanish as their first language, but the rest speak any of 400 other languages (NCELA 2007). Most ELL students were born in the United States, but close to half of ELLs in grades six through twelve are foreign born (Capps et al, 2005). Like other children, they bring a range of individual experiences to school that can affect how quickly they will learn English. To complicate things further, in many places the search for effective instructional practices has been hijacked by other agendas having more to do with ideology than honest inquiry.  

Fortunately, a body of research has emerged over the last ten years shedding light on what it takes to help ELLs succeed in school. The findings aren’t always definitive. Even so, they provide some important lessons for shaping policies and practices that will advance both English language proficiency and academic gains of students for whom English is a second language.

Read more.  Article provided by Maida Feliciano.

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