English-Language Learners

Book Weighs Studies on English-Learners

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 07, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Children who speak little or no English don’t automatically get a chance to improve their language skills just because their teachers put them in pairs or small groups with native speakers of English, according to a review of research on instruction for English-language learners.

More information on ordering Educating English Language Learners: A Synthesis of Research Evidence, is available online from Cambridge Press or by calling (800) 872-7423.

That is one of several research findings examined in the book Educating English Language Learners: A Synthesis of Research Evidence, which was published in January by Cambridge University Press.

In one study, for example, a classroom of English-language learners and native speakers of English cut short their interactions to get their assignment done quickly. “Just write that down. Who cares? Let’s finish up,” one student is quoted as saying.

Assignments have to be carefully structured if the teacher intends to give English-language learners meaningful opportunities to use English with native speakers, one author of a study concludes.

The review was conducted by four researchers who are prominent in the field of education of English-larners, including Donna Christian, the president of the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics and the author of the book’s introduction.

The reviewers also point out gaps in research. By far, most studies focus on English-language learners with Hispanic backgrounds, for instance. The reviewers call for studies on other language-minority groups, such as students of Vietnamese, Hmong, Cantonese, and Korean backgrounds.

But the reviewers imply that some findings can be applied to the classroom.

Studies show that English-language learners do better in school if they don’t just attend regular classes, but participate in programs designed to help them learn English. Almost all evaluations of K-12 students show that students who have been educated in bilingual classrooms, particularly in long-term programs that aim for a high level of bilingualism, do as well as or better on standardized tests than students in comparison groups of English-learners in English-only programs or native speakers of English in mainstream classes.

One study showed that English-learners who are in a hodgepodge of programs perform poorly in school.

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
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
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

English-Language Learners Here's How Schools Are Helping Afghan Refugee Students
Districts are preparing to welcome students arriving from Afghanistan, with some even helping in evacuation efforts.
5 min read
Templeton Students have opportunities throughout the school year to wear traditional garments from their Native countries. The students are always excited to share their cultures with others.
Students at Templeton Elementary in Riverdale, Md., wear garments from their native countries. The school works to make refugee students feel comfortable and supported, including by offering Afghan students a place to pray and halal food options.
Randall Pike/Prince George’s County Public Schools
English-Language Learners Spotlight Spotlight on Bilingual Instruction
In this Spotlight, identify potential gaps in your schools, evaluate dual-language education programs, and more.
English-Language Learners Opinion Q&A Collections: Teaching English-Language Learners
Ten years' worth of posts sharing the advice of over 100 experienced teachers of English-language learners.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
English-Language Learners Opinion Four Educator-Recommended Approaches for Teaching English-Language Learners
Five educators recommend classroom strategies for teaching ELLs, including translanguaging & consistency.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty