English-Language Learners

On Bilingualism, Bias, and Immigration: Our Top English-Learner Stories of 2019

By Corey Mitchell — December 31, 2019 2 min read

Education Week’s top English-language-learner stories of 2019 explored who’s teaching the nation’s English-learners and the struggles those educators encounter on the job, examined why more schools in the United States are embracing bilingualism, and delved into how the Trump administration’s immigration policies affect students, families, and educators.

1. The Value of Bilingualism

The Truth About Bilingualism: It’s Only for Some Students

The spread of the “seal of biliteracy"—a seal affixed to the diplomas or transcripts as official proof that students can speak, read, and write in more than one language—raises a question: bilingualism for whom? English-learners and students from low-income families may be on the wrong side of an opportunity gap, with their chances to demonstrate their bilingualism restricted by their circumstances.

For more reporting and reports on the seal of biliteracy, you can read these stories:

100,000 Students Earned the Seal of Biliteracy, But They’re in a Handful of States

As More States Adopt Bilingualism Seal, Equity Concerns Arise

2. English-Learners and Special Education

Overlooked: How Teacher Training Falls Short for English-Learners and Students With IEPs

Many English-learners and students with disabilities spend lots of time in general education classes, but teachers lack training in how to meet their needs.

For more reporting and reports on English-learners and special education, you can read these stories:

Evaluating English-Learners for Special Education is a Challenge. Here’s Help

Ways to Better Serve Often-Misunderstood English-Learners With Disabilities

3. Who’s Teaching the Nation’s English-Learners?

Wanted: Teachers as Diverse as Their Students

School districts try ‘grow your own’ programs develop a workforce to better mirror the student body.

For more reporting and reports on who’s teaching English-learners, you can read these stories:

Bilingual Teachers Are in Short Supply. How Can Schools Cultivate Their Own?

The Latino Teacher-Student Divide: 5 Steps to Close the Gap

4. Migrant Children and Immigration

How Schools Are Responding to Migrant Children

Educators in schools across the United States work to support migrant students who’ve recently arrived from Central America. But former Education Week correspondent Kavitha Cardoza found that the intensity of their needs can be a strain.

For more reporting on migrant children and immigration policies, read these stories:

Trump Administration to End Schooling, Recreation, Legal Aid for Migrant Children in Shelters

How Should Schools Respond to ICE Raids? Some Advice

5. Bias and English-Learners

Do English-Learners Get Stigmatized by Teachers? A Study Says Yes

New research suggests that English-language-learner classification has a “direct and negative effect on teachers’ perceptions of students’ academic skills.”

For more reports and reporting on how bias can affect English-learners, read this story:

A ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Approach to English-Learner Education Won’t Work. Here’s Why

Photo Credit: Adrian Galvan, left, is a bilingual paraprofessional at Lyman Hall Elementary School in Hall County, Ga. He is part of program that aims to recruit teacher-candidates who reflect the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the student population.

--Nicole Craine for Education Week

Illustration by Matt Huyn

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