Speaking English with Difficulty

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 17, 2007 1 min read
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Five percent of elementary and secondary school students in the United States both speak a language other than English at home AND “speak English with difficulty,” according to a report released recently by the National Center for Education Statistics. (Corrected from earlier version of post.) Those are the children to whom this blog is devoted. I usually call them English-language learners.

The 157-page report, “Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities,” says that 20 percent of all school children in the United States are language-minority children, which means they speak a language other than English at home. But only a quarter of those 10.8 million children are reported by the U.S. Bureau of the Census as speaking English less than “very well.” In other words, most children from immigrant families do speak English “very well.” See pages 42-44 of the report for information about language-minority students.

The report has some data about American Indian or Alaska Native students that I haven’t seen anywhere else. In that group of students, it says 17 percent speak a language other than English at home and 3 percent have difficulty with English.

I noticed that statistic in part because this week I’ll be on the road reporting on American Indian students. The blogging this week will be light.

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