Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Supporting English Language Learners with Next-Gen Tools

By Tom Vander Ark — May 25, 2016 2 min read

While our country grows in diversity, schools serve a growing percentage of students with vastly different backgrounds and needs. English language learners (ELL) face many challenges in school and test results show they often fall behind their non-ELL peers. They are far less likely to graduate in four years, at a rate of approximately 63% compared to a national average of 82%. The percentage of ELLs graduating high school within four years also trails others subgroups, including students with disabilities and those who come from low-income families.

With the 2015 passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal government has made teaching ELL a priority through stronger accountability provisions and the authorization of additional funding. Secretary of Education John King said, “Under ESSA, states have the opportunity to broaden the definition of educational excellence to ensure that it is well-rounded and incorporates biliteracy and multiliteracy.” King also said, “States have the opportunity to invest in ensuring that all new teachers are ready to work in the diverse settings that characterize our schools, and to see the fact that a child speaks a language other than English at home as an asset rather than as a deficit.”

Although these numbers suggest ELLs do not perform as well as their non ELL counterparts, there is evidence to suggest that given the right types of supports, bilingual or multilingual students perform better academically over time. Studies show within four to five years bilingual students typically outperform their peers that are in peers that are in one language classrooms.

Reaching all of America’s students includes meeting the needs of diverse learners that possess a wide variety of skills, backgrounds, cultures and family supports. Supporting ELLs, and ultimately all students, involves multiple strategies, professional learning and environmental support. It also means providing next-gen and technological tools that can support language acquisition.

A new publication by Getting Smart addresses these fundamental issues and includes:

  • A landscape analysis of ELL programs, strategies, tools and applications.
  • Findings on what students need to acquire English and what teachers need in order to teach ELLs.
  • Specific recommendations for future tools based on findings.
  • A growing commitment to language fluency in multiple languages demands increased investment in language tools and content. In addition to addressing the gaps above, EdTech investors and developers, school and district leaders, policy makers, and educators should prioritize alignment of high-quality instructional materials with rigorous state standards and apply research-based recommendations to positively impact ELL achievement. The publication includes the 10 Elements of Next-Gen English Language Learning include recommendations such as:

  • Creating a strong school culture utilizing a strengths-based approach for all learners.
  • Considering bilingual, biliterate and dual language programs including bilingual pre-K and kindergarten.
  • Moving towards blended learning with high-quality and standards-aligned tools to support all learners.
  • “Supporting English Language Learners with Next-Gen Tools” is authored by Getting Smart, with contributions from Bonnie Lathram, Carri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark. To learn more, download the full paper and follow along on social media using the hashtag #SupportELL.

    The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

    Events

    This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
    Sponsor
    School & District Management Webinar
    Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
    Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
    Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
    This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
    Sponsor
    School & District Management Webinar
    How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
    Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
    Content provided by Samsung
    Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
    How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

    EdWeek Top School Jobs

    BASE Program Site Director
    Thornton, CO, US
    Adams 12 Five Star Schools
    Director of Information Technology
    Montpelier, Vermont
    Washington Central UUSD
    Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
    New York City, New York (US)
    Great Oaks Charter Schools
    Director of Athletics
    Farmington, Connecticut
    Farmington Public Schools

    Read Next

    Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
    Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
    8 min read
    Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
    EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
    5 min read
    Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
    Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
    8 min read
    Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
    A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
    8 min read