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How Can School Librarians Reach Out to ELLs?

Materials are available only in English at 16 percent of school libraries in this country, according to respondents to a 2009 survey conducted by the American Association of School Librarians. Nine out of 10 respondents reported that less than 5 percent of their library collections are in a language other than English.

Providing "a rich collection of resources in multiple languages" is one of four "ELL collaboration strategies" listed in survey questions. The other collaboration strategies mentioned are letting students choose readings from a selection of materials, designing lessons rich in content but not too dependent on language and setting both content and language goals for learning. More than a third, 36 percent, of respondents to the survey said they don't use any of those strategies for helping English-language learners to access their school libraries.

Each year the American Association of School Librarians chooses a different focus for a series of questions that are added to its annual survey of school libraries. In 2009, in recognition that ELLs are a sizable group of students in this country, the association decided to take on the issue of how school libraries are serving ELLs as its special focus.

Find the supplementary report on ELLs here. Explore survey results of school libraries in general here.

Update: Lydia Breiseth over at WETA just alerted me that Colorin Colorado just published an online primer, "10 Ways to Support ELLs in the School Library."

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