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Articles: ELL

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart strives to bring equity, pride and higher achievement to a once-struggling district that is far more diverse than the rest of Iowa. A garden of multicolored poles students have installed outside one low-income school taunt would-be vandals and represents Ahart's belief in the transformative power of education.

Rosetta Stone

English-language learners now comprise more than five percent of Cincinnati’s school population—which has grown more than 500 percent in the past five years.

Superintendent Darwin Stiffler has raised achievement for migrant students in his Yuma, Arizona district.

Driven by a passion to create an environment where teachers and students can reach full potential, Superintendent Darwin Stiffler has implemented programs to support the migrant workers and military families whose children attend the Yuma Elementary School District in Arizona.

46 states provide additional funding dedicated to ELL education, says a March report from the Education Commission of the States. (Click to enlarge)

English language learners (ELLs) perform better academically and achieve greater language proficiency when they have high-quality English language instruction, according to a 2014 study in the American Educational Research Journal.

These extra programs require additional funding above the average per-student amount.

Using effective strategies to personalize the math learning experience is key to reaching all levels of learners, especially Spanish-speaking English Language Learners who vary in their English language abilities, math proficiency and personal circumstances. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 17, 2015, educators from an innovative school with an 85 percent Latino population in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, discussed the success they’ve had combining face-to-face instruction with online learning to drive math achievement for their ELL students.

For the 2007-08 school year, Deborah Cody, world language liaison for Pueblo City Schools in southern Colorado, was presented with a very good problem to solve.

“We set up new 30-station computer labs in our high schools and middle schools, and needed programs students could work on in them,” she says.

San Diego USD’s Language Academy dedicated its newly revitalized campus in July, complete with new environmentally-friendly classrooms and schoolwide air conditioning.

The Language Academy is a multicultural K8 school that offers bilingual immersion courses in English, Spanish and French. Students also gain knowledge of the history and culture of the language they study. At the ceremony, students led the Pledge of Allegiance in each language.

Donna Schulze, above, is a paraeducator at Phelps Luck School in the Howard County Public Schools in Maryland.

Paraeducators are no longer on the periphery of the classroom. Now a significant part of the learning process, they are facilitating one-on-one and small-group instruction among special needs students.

A California high school supported by the Internationals Network for Public Schools admits only English language learners.

Districts far from Central America are experiencing record surges in immigrant student enrollment this fall—and must find the funding to accommodate these students but also provide them with mental health and English language services. Since October, more than 57,500 unaccompanied minors from Central America have been detained at the Mexican border.

Since Lancaster School District (Calif.) is a K8 school system, Rebecca Cooksey, director of IT, knows that none of her students have optimal listening skills yet. “Students’ audio processing tracks are not fully developed until they are 15,” Cooksey says. And the 25 percent of Lancaster’s 14,000 students who are ELL face additional challenges in listening to and processing information presented orally by teachers. “It is important for ELL students to hear the way teachers pronounce words, and the nuances in their voice,” Cooksey says.

A blended learning approach to English Language Learner instruction has been demonstrated to produce better results, and more quickly than classroom instruction only. Thesys International has developed an Acquired English Proficiency program that utilizes blended learning to improve reading, speaking, and writing skills for ESL students. The program emphasizes academic English and better prepares them for mainstream courses in much shorter time than the national average.

David Kirp’s book new book is "Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools."

David Kirp’s book, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools (Oxford University Press, 2013), is different from many education titles on the market. While other authors go to great lengths examining where our schools fail, Kirp, a former journalist who is a public policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, shows what works.

Tom Johnstone, right, with Shane Martin, dean of the School of Education at Loyola  Marymount University.

It was 1978 when Tom Johnstone, graduated from Santa Clara University, hopped in a Volkswagen bus with some buddies and headed to South America.

When he wasn’t sightseeing in Argentina and Chile, he treasured one-on-one time with locals. And this came after Johnstone had spent a year of college in Madrid and studied in Caracas, Venezuela, as a high school exchange student. It reinforced an earlier connection he had with Spanish-speaking people.

Joseph Lopez, El Paso ISD’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, talks with the district’s Texas Literacy Initiative administrators. The program has been implemented in 39 of El Paso’s 94 schools to promote better reading and writing skills.

With more than 30 years of education experience, Joseph Lopez brought grant money and state funding to help grow student achievement.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2011). Foreign language enrollments in K-12 Public Schools: Are Students Prepared for a Global Society? www.actfl.org/files/ReportSummary2011.pdf

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2012). The Role of Technology in Language Learning. http://www.actfl.org/news/position-statements/role-technology-language-learning

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