The amount of time adolescent English-language learners speak English in informal situations, such as at work or in the school cafeteria, has more of an impact on how well they learn English than how much they practice the language in the classroom or at home, according to a study published in the December edition of the American Educational Research Journal. The study, "Explaining English Language Proficiency Among Adolescent Immigrant Students," looked at a sample of 274 immigrant students, ages 14 to 19, who had been in the United States for 6.9 years on average. They were attending schools in ...


Today, William Wayne Justice, a senior U.S. district judge for the eastern district of Texas, in Tyler, denied a request by the state of Texas to delay carrying out a court order to revamp its programs for secondary English-language learners (find the court's denial here). The state had wanted to delay having to comply with the order while it appeals the federal judge's July 25 decision. Dec. 22 Update: The San Antonio Express-News published an article on Saturday about the judge's denial of the state's request. In his July decision for the long-running court case, U.S. v. Texas, ...


The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, or WIDA, consortium today released sample questions for the nation's most popular English-language-proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs. Virtually all of the questions have illustrations (which are printed in full color!) to help students understand English vocabulary. After browsing the questions, I had a better understanding of how visuals can be used to help ELLs, both in testing and instruction. Here's a sample WIDA writing question for grades 6-8: A local charity donated $10,000 to your school. The principal has asked the students for ideas on how to spend the money. These are the ...


The Washington Post reports some good news today in the world of English-language learners. The article says that 91 of the 98 ELLs at Highland Elementary School in Montgomery County, Md.--a school now tapped for a coveted educational honor--passed the state's reading test this year. The school is one of six recently nominated by the Maryland State Department of Education for the U.S. Department of Education's "blue ribbon" schools program. Also, the Post reported today that the Maryland State Board of Education has approved a policy that enables some seniors at risk of not graduating, including English-language learners, ...


Though language-minority students scored lower on a 1st grade math assessment than students who speak primarily English at home, the two groups of students made the same gains in math between 1st and 5th grades, according to a study released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. Language-minority students are children who speak a language other than English at home. The study also found that two different subgroups of language-minority students—those who are proficient in English and those who are still English-language learners—also made the same gains in math ...


The Center for American Progress is promoting expanded learning time for English-language learners with a report that features several case studies of schools that have extended the school day or year. "It's common sense" that extra learning time can be particularly beneficial for ELLs because they "have more to learn in less time," Melissa Lazarin, the associate director of education policy for the Center, said at a forum held yesterday to release the report, "A Race Against the Clock: The Value of Expanded Learning Time for English Language Learners." The forum highlighted an interesting effort in Massachusetts that has expanded ...


I have only one clue to offer about what kind of policies Arne Duncan, who has been nominated as the secretary of education for President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet, might favor for English-language learners. As the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, he has argued that English-language learners should have a separate test other than the state's regular reading and math tests for ELLs. In the 2007-08 school year, the U.S. Department of Education required Illinois to drop use of a plain English test for ELLs, called the the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English, or IMAGE, for calculating adequate ...


One place to start in determining if an English-language learner has barriers to learning other than a language barrier is to make sure he or she has normal hearing and vision. That's one practical piece of advice that Caroline Linse, a senior lecturer at Queen's University, Belfast, in Northern Ireland, provides in her article, "Language Issue or Learning Disability?," published in the December issue of Essential Teacher. While the magazine makes some articles available for free, this particular article is available only to members of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., which publishes Essential Teacher. Ms. Linse ...


Teachers can help English-language learners at the pre-K level by using gestures, speaking slowly, repeating information, encouraging peer interactions, and anticipating words that will be hard and providing explanations. This is some of the information contained in two sidebars about English-language learners that appear in a report, "Preschool Curriculum: What's In It for Children and Teachers?," released this week by the Albert Shanker Institute of the American Federation of Teachers....


Yesterday, in a Webinar intended to clarify guidance on the "supplement-not-supplant" provision of Title III, U.S. Department of Education staff relayed four questions that school districts can use to determine if they are spending Title III funds appropriately. The Oct. 2 guidance for the section of the No Child Left Behind Act that authorizes funds for English-language-acquisition programs reiterates a provision of the law that says funds for English-language learners may not be used to replace money from local, state, or federal sources that would otherwise be used for this group of students. The four questions, in the wording ...


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