English Language Education in US Public Schools

The past decade has seen a dramatic increase of English Language Learners (ELLs) in US public schools.  The debate about how to best serve the needs of immigrant populations continues.  The March 14 New York Times, story “Where Education and Assimilation Collide,” part of the “Remade in America” series, examines one school outside of Washington, D.C., which runs an insulated ELL program.  It was a wonderful article for generating discussion and I encourage anyone interested in this issue to read it.

For me, the article provokes more questions than it provides answers.  Below, I share my questions after reading the article.  I welcome your ideas, questions, and discussion.

I wonder —

How can schools and teachers improve social interaction between ELLs and mainstream students?

How do economically suffering school districts distribute money in a way that serves all students?  Can there be equality?

In the classroom, what can teachers do to support both ELLs and mainstream students in productive ways that value all learners?  How can teachers promote attitudes of sharing and learning among all students?

What awarenesses are necessary for ELLs, their teachers, the administrators, and the other students in order to promote successful communication and a productive learning environment?

Are you a learner of English?  What was your classroom experience like?  Is it similar to the Times article or vastly different?  Is there a difference between your own English learning and that of the students in the Times story?

Are you a teacher with ELLs in your classroom?  How do you address equity?  How have you learned to overcome the classroom problems you’ve faced?  What changes have you noticed about learner motivation and the context in which your students are learning English?

Please comment below.


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2 Responses to “English Language Education in US Public Schools”

  1. hadio Says:

    You talked about serious problems that both teachers and students are facing. But to deal with the problem, i think it is crucial that the teachers recognise their students need in order to solve the problem. You can not provide a message to someone if that person is not interested to what are you are talking about. First, a teacher should recognise the need of his or her student and then provide a climate to motivate them. I absolutely think, learning begin by these factors

    • matadmissions Says:

      I agree that the emotional and motivational climates are essential conditions for learning. I applaud your belief and practice that a student-centered classroom is desirable! The question, for me, is how can the teacher do this? The answer, of course, is going to differ with each teacher, each student, each year. The teacher must perceive students’ needs carefully and address them thoughtfully. In training teachers, it is important to not prescribe specific ways of doing things, but to ask teachers to consider multiple perspectives, among many other considerations. What considerations are important to you? With whom do you discuss them? How do you know your approaches and actions are effective?

      Marshall Brewer
      Admissions Counselor
      SIT Graduate Institute

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