English-Language Learners

The Most-Read Blog Posts of 2015 From Learning the Language

By Corey Mitchell — December 30, 2015 3 min read
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Reports about undocumented immigrant children banned from state-run preschools, English-language learners’ home languages. and studies on ELL reclassification and language proficiency were among the top ELL stories of 2015 on this blog.

Here’s a look at the 10 most popular blog posts:

10. Report Offers State Leaders, Feds Advice to Improve ELL Education

Released in the spring, a report from the Education Commission of the States offers a series of policy recommendations that it says states and the federal government can adopt to improve the academic performance of English-language learners.

9. Teachers Should Adapt to Culture of Newcomer ELLs, Researchers Argue

Researchers who spent two years documenting the education of Somali Bantu refugees in a Chicago elementary school argue that educators should do more to adapt to the culture of newly arrived immigrant students.

8. Education Department Pledges to Prioritize Needs of Language-Learners

In March, the U.S. Department of Education previewed a strategy to elevate the national focus on English-language learners. The plan, which touches on topics ranging from parent engagement to teacher preparation, is a “framing guideline for how we want to think about English-learners across different levels of the organization,” said Libia Gil, the head of the U.S. Department of Education’s office of English language acquisition.

7. Federal Civil Rights Officials Release Guidance on English-Language Learners

In January 2015, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a new guidance on the rights of the nation’s English-language learners, reminding public schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure the students have equal access to a high-quality education. The guidance came on the heels of the recent 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols, a landmark Supreme Court decision, and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, both of which expanded rights of students with limited English proficiency.

6. How Long Does it Take ELLs to Develop English Proficiency?

A study of seven high-poverty districts in the Seattle metropolitan area found that it took nearly four years for elementary school-aged English-language learners to develop English proficiency.

5. What’s the Top Home Language for ELLs?

Spanish is not the top home language for English-language learner students in some states, though it is the most commonly spoken native language for ELLs nationally, according to separate fact sheets released this summer by the Migration Policy Institute and Middlebury Interactive Languages.

4. Majority of Hispanics Want Young People to Speak Spanish, Survey Shows

A Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends report concluded that an overwhelming majority of Hispanics say it is important that future generations of Hispanics living in the United States speak Spanish. The survey, “When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity” found that 75 percent of Hispanic adults say it is “very important” that young people speak Spanish while another 20 percent say it is “somewhat important.”

3. Feds Offer Guide to Providing Quality Education for English-Language Learners

In September, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice completed a 10-chapter tool kit designed to help public schools ensure that English-language learners have access to a high-quality education.

2. Pre-K Literacy Key to English-Language Learner Reclassification, Study Finds

English language-learners who enter kindergarten with a basic grasp of academic language, “either in their primary language or in English,” are more likely over time to be reclassified as former ELLs, an analysis from Oregon State University has found.

1. Undocumented Immigrant Children Banned from Indiana Preschools

Hat tip to my colleagues Lillian Mongeau and Christina Samuels, co-authors of the Early Years blog, for this post about undocumented immigrant children banned from enrolling in that state’s new preschool program.

To stay up to date on English-language learner news in the year to come, sign up for email updates here and follow @c_c_mitchell on Twitter.

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

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