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How Does Class Size Affect the Teaching of ELLs?


A teacher in the West Contra school district in Richmond, Calif., expresses her disappointment in a letter to the editor of the Contra Costa Times that because of budget cuts, class sizes will grow in her school district. She says that kindergarten will have 24 students, and 3rd grade will have 28 students.

She makes the case that students in grades K-3, particularly ELLs, need small-group instruction. In a district where about a third of students are ELLs, she says, it's "shameful" that the school board would increase class size.

What do you think? Is there a strong connection between class size and teaching effectiveness when it comes to teaching ELLs?


In my opinion classes should not exceed 20 students. The fewer the students in a classroom the better they are able to participate in their learning. This conversation cannot only target ELL students because larger classrooms effects all students. We as educators know this. I do not understand why education is not funded properly. These children will be running the country in the years to come. They need to have the best and most accessible eduction possible.

Increasing class sizes had positive impact on California budget but negative impact on students and teachers. Imagine the amount of attention a teacher has to pay to each student in a class size of 20 vs. class size of 28. It means each student will have less time of teacher's attention. However, it may be a temporary solution as long as the State is willing to go back to its original size once the economy is back on track. On the other hand, it has been a trend that once a policy like this is passed, it stays like this forever and State becomes used to of making more and more changes. Bottom line, the quality of education in public schools of California is getitng from bad to worse.

Class size is irrelevant. You cannot learn a language in a classroom. If you cannot convert your learners into independent learners, they will not learn much. Stop whining and teach them how to take advantage of libraries, the internet, their MP3 players and the world around them, and how to stop depending on teachers.

I must say, I have a difficult time engaging with someone who tells me to "stop whining," but I'll try to stay positive from here on out.
Steve - you say "teach them to use . . ." the technology that will help them learn English. Yes, good teachers do not attempt to impart knowledge, but to teach students how to get the information they need, how to use it effectively, and how to communicate what they have learned. We can do that better in smaller groups - especially when the students are trying to learn new things in a new language.

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