Meeting the Needs of Young English Language Learners

Meeting the Needs of Young English Language Learners

Judi Simmons Estes (Park University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3955-1.ch008
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From the fall of 2003 to the fall of 2013, the number of Hispanic students in K-12 schools increased from 19 percent to 25 percent; in addition, the percentage of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. public schools was 9.4 percent during the 2014-2015 school year, ranging from 1.0 percent in West Virginia to 22.4 percent in California (NCES, 2016). General education teachers are increasingly likely to have ELL students in their classrooms, yet a majority of classroom teachers have little to no training in working with English language learners (NCES, 2011). This chapter provides a discussion of the role of language in learning, the needs of English language learners and their families, as well as the role of teacher preparation programs in preparing pre-service teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse young children.
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The educational term “linguistically and culturally diverse” is used by the U.S. Department of Education to define children enrolled in educational programs who are either non-English-proficient (NEP) or limited-English-proficient (LEP); K-12 educators generally use the same terminology to identify children from families where English is not the home language of communication (Garciá 1991). A student’s home language is tied to culture including traditions, values, and attitudes (Chang 1993).

While there is an increase in culturally and linguistically diverse children in U.S. K-12 classrooms, the majority of K-12 teachers are White, middle-class woman who speak only English (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2012). A potential cultural mismatch between students and teachers means that it is especially important to ensure that teachers have opportunities to develop cultural competence in meeting the needs of ELL students and their families, as part of a teacher education experience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL): TESOL is a professional association with a mission to ensure excellence in English language education.

Institute for Language and Education Policy: The Institute is incorporated for the purpose of educating the public on research-based strategies for promoting academic excellence and equity for English and heritage language learners while ensuring that policies for serving these children reflect the latest research about language and education.

National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR): NCTR is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007. With locations throughout the U.S., NCTR partners with school districts, charter schools, institutions of higher education and state departments of education to develop and support teacher residency program as a source of effective and diverse certified teachers.

Code Switching: Involves a child or teacher alternating between his home language and an additional language(s) during a conversation.

Stanford Online: Stanford University offers professional development courses online, with several offerings for teachers. This link leads to the course Integrating English Language Development and Content Learning: A Conversation-Based Approach .

National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE): Since 1975, the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) has been a non-profit membership organization that works to ensure that language-minority students have equal opportunities to learn English and succeed academically.

Colorin Colorado: A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners.

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA): NCELA collects, coordinates, and conveys a broad range of research and resources in support of an inclusive approach to high quality education for ELs.

Teaching Channel Resources for Teachers: The Teaching Channel’s mission is to create an environment where teachers can watch, share, and learn new techniques to help every student grow.

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