English Learners

English-Learners Are a Diverse Group. How Can Schools Meet Their Needs?

By Corey Mitchell — August 08, 2018 1 min read
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The research arm of the federal Education Department has released a how-to guide for educators who work with English-language learners.

The eight-page report from Regional Education Laboratory Northwest is designed to help educators identify the strengths and needs of ELLs—whether they’re a newcomer to the United States, a long-term English-learner struggling with the language, or a student who is somewhere in-between.

“We have a tendency to treat English-learners as one monolithic group,” said Tim Blackburn, a senior adviser for English-learner projects at REL Northwest. “There are many different types of language-learner students and our programs have to be designed with intentions to meet their specific needs.”

The guide also outlines the rights of English-learners and their families, details how factors such as home language and prior education can influence students’ performance in school, and offers tips for schools on selecting the best-fit English-learner program model.

Nearly 10 percent of K-12 students in the nation’s public schools are English-learners, but a 2017 report from the National Academy of Sciences found that under-resourced schools and underprepared educators have hindered efforts to help the students learn and master English.

Against that backdrop, REL Northwest sought to equip educators with a “tool to communicate not only who their language-learners are, but also the programmatic decisions that schools and districts need to make,” Blackburn said.

Here’s a look at the guide.

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Image Credit: Regional Education Laboratory Northwest

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