English Language Learner in the Education System

By Katie Holmes

Estas personas se están moviendo de todo el mundo. These people are moving from all over the world.  This has become a language barrier that most immigrants face when they arrive in America when they are non-native English language speaking individuals. According to Migrationpolicy.org, approximately 61 people, foreign and U.S. born, spoke a language other than English at home in 2013. Also in 2013 Spanish was the predominant language spoken by immigrants and the U.S. born. The other five most common spoken languages in America are Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog. However,the diversity of languages in one country has created a language barrier, especially among the children of immigrant families. Those children are also classified as English Language Learners and the majority of those United States. ELL students were born in the United States. 



Note: The figure refers to English Language Learner (ELL) students, ages 5 to 17, enrolled in school by grade. Source: MPI tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2013 ACS. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/limited-english-proficient-population-united-states

As ELL students enroll in public schools they need help developing English language skills. The top five states with public ELL programs are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. During 2012-2013, public schools with more funding for ELL students perform better. However, not all schools are able to fund those program. For example, there could be a school with only 30 kids that are ELL and there be a school with 300 ELL students and each school is provided with the same amount of funding for those programs. The public schools that have a few ELL students have a higher successful rate than students developing the English Language skills unlike the school with 300 ELL students. Ten percent of  public school students struggle with the English language, while only 1 percent of its teachers are qualified to instruct those students. That means there is just one qualified instructor for every 150 English as a Second Language Learner. The standard classroom ratio across the country is one teacher for every 15 students. However, only 9.2 percent of those students are participating in programs for English language learners.

        Not involving students in ELL programs only causes a language barrier to persist because it causes more issues to immigrants in the future. The Office of English Language Acquisition has discovered through the 2015 Nation’s Report Card results that students passing through the ELL program are scoring higher than the average non-English Language Learners. This National Assessment of Educational Progress or Nation’s Report Card is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what students know about mathematics, reading, science, and writing. The two main subjects the Office of English Language Acquisition look at are reading and mathematics when assessing ELL students. The fourth and eighth grader are tested in those two categories. However, each level is broken into three different groups: English Language Learners students, Non-English Language Learners students (native English speaking individuals), and Former English Language Learners students that have passed the ELL program. The average score for each grade and in either math or reading revealed that the ELLs scored lower than the Non-ELLs. There was test results that showed the students who went through the ELL program are testing higher in certain sections than the Non-native English language speaking individuals.   

        These results show that students who have received help from the English Language Learner programs rise above or fall just behind the native English speaking individuals in nation test results. It shows that the U.S. needs to keep expanding ELL programs. If no action is taken to help the ELLs now our future will have a stronger language barrier between English speaking individuals and non-native English language speaking individuals.



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