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EdWeek Chat on Long-Term ELLs One Week From Today

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 03, 2009 1 min read

Many school districts across the country haven’t figured out how to address the needs of long-term English-language learners. These are students who spend years, sometimes their whole school careers, in special programs to learn English but never test as fluent in the language.

Kate Menken, an assistant professor of linguistics at the City University of New York, is one of the few researchers who has focused on this group of students. She’ll be EdWeek‘s guest for an hourlong chat next Thursday, Sept. 10, 2 p.m., Eastern time, about educating long-term ELLs. You can sign up here to receive a reminder about the chat.

Menken is completing a three-year research project involving Spanish-speaking ELLs in New York City who have been in U.S. schools for more than seven years. The research was commissioned by the New York City education department. Menken and her research team implemented an intervention with 48 long-term ELLs at two high schools in which teachers were supported to teach literacy across all subjects and students received a class in Spanish literacy as well. Menken tells me the results are promising.

I wrote my first in-depth article about long-term ELLs back in 2002 and, frankly, I haven’t seen that school districts have made much progress in addressing the particular needs of these students since then. The New York City school district’s effort to develop educational approaches that target them is very unusual.

Menken considers long-term ELLs to be an “overlooked” group of students. The only other researchers I know of outside of Menken’s team who have focused on this area are Yvonne Freeman and David Freeman. Yvonne is a bilingual education professor at the University of Texas, Brownsville, and David is a professor of reading and English-as-a-second-language there.

The chat will open up for questions a half hour before Menken comes online at 2 p.m. Please help to keep the chat lively by submitting a question. I’ll be the moderator.

Pictured is Kate Menken.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.