English Language Learners in the Classroom
Nordby, Ann, Teacher Librarian
In many areas of the United States, schools are struggling to find the best approach to teaching English language learners. As of 2005 there were about 5 million students in the United States that are English language learners (ELL), http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/ expert/faq/08leps.html.
Spanish is by far the most common native language of ELLs, at 75 to 80%. Five different Asian languages, Russian, and Arabic are in the top 10 but represent far fewer students, http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/resabout/research/descriptivestudyfiles/ native_languages1.pdf. The number of native Spanish speakers arriving in schools is a strain for teachers who do not understand Spanish and have not been trained in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL).
Not surprisingly, academic performance for ELL students lags behind their native English-speaking peers. On one 2007 national assessment, fourth-grade ELLs scored 36 points below native speakers in reading and 25 points below them in math. The gaps among eighth graders were even larger. Since the tests are in English, it is impossible to know whether the grades lagged behind due to poor understanding and skills, or because of their limited English proficiency.
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Publication information: Article title: English Language Learners in the Classroom. Contributors: Nordby, Ann - Author. Magazine title: Teacher Librarian. Volume: 36. Issue: 3 Publication date: February 2009. Page number: 42+. © 2008 Scarecrow Press, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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