The Art and Science of How People Learn - Revised Edition
Edited By Greg S. Goodman
15. English Language Learners: Understanding Their Needs
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English Language Learners
Understanding Their Needs
English language learners (ELLs) are students whose native languages are not English but are learning English in our schools. ELLs make up over 5 million students, among whom 80% are Spanish speaking, nearly 10.3 percent of public school enrollment. By the year 2025, ELLs under age 18 are projected to be approximately 50% of the American population (American Federation of Teachers, 2006). It will be virtually impossible for a professional educator to serve in any public or private school setting in which the students are not racially, culturally or linguistically diverse. To better prepare each future educator so that she/he can work effectively with this population of students in schools, I will address the linguistic, social, psychological and cultural factors that affect the schooling experience and academic success of these English language learners. Specific attention will be paid to how children and youth acquire a second language in school and how long it takes to acquire conversational and academic language in a second language. It is important to understand the role first language literacy and prior formal schooling have on the student’s progress in a second language. Prior social and cultural experiences can have a significant effect on issues of second language learning. The combination of social and psychological factors affects ELLs in their learning of the English language. I will conclude this chapter with a discussion...
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