I found myself in the same boat as many educators a few weeks ago when I embarked on a quest to learn about Bhutanese refugees, a new wave of immigrants arriving in the United States. I had to start from scratch. Here are a few of the basics: Bhutan is a small country wedged between India and China. It has been the home to different ethnic groups, including the refugees, who lived in Bhutan for generations and retained their Nepalese language and culture. The refugees say they were forced out of the country by discriminatory policies that made it difficult ...


Don't miss Larry Ferlazzo's compilation of "The Best Sites to Learn About U.S. Presidential Elections," which he's found to work well with English-language learners. Mr. Ferlazzo is teaching a government class this semester for intermediate ELLs at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California....


Update: A comment from Charles Stansfield caused me to check out the Ohio Department of Education's Web site and find that Ohio provides translation in Somali for a number of state tests, though students must read portions of the state's reading test in English. So the premise of my blog item is wrong. Ohio education officials, I apologize to you for making a totally wrong assumption. Original Blog Post: A journalist for the Cleveland Scene has written a thoughtful piece, published April 16, about English-language learners and the No Child Left Behind Act. The article, "How do you pass No ...


I came across a story via hispanictips.com and TESOL in the News about how the scores of English-language learners in a Colorado school district on the state's English-language-proficiency test improved significantly this school year over the previous one. This is the second year that Colorado schools have administered the Colorado English Language Assessment test, or CELA. While reading the article, I recalled reading an article about improved test scores of ELLs on Oregon's English-language-proficiency test that spurred a lot of discussion last month over at the ELL Advocates blog. In that story Oregon educators were quoted as saying that ...


Over at Colorin colorado, a teacher of English-language learners in Minnesota has posted an article telling how she helped her students to discover what it takes to get a passing score on the state's writing exam. Passing the writing test is one of the biggest obstacles to graduation for her ELL students, writes Kristina Robertson. "They had a lot of anxiety around writing," she says in the article, "and the state writing exam was like a monster growing in the room as the test date neared." In one way, the article, "Writing a Winning Essay," is a prescription for "teaching ...


With the exception perhaps of Stephen D. Krashen, a professor emeritus of the University of Southern California, I don't believe anyone has penned more commentary than James Crawford arguing that bilingual education benefits English-language learners more than do English-only methods. Particularly notable in my mind is an "obituary" for the federal Bilingual Education Act that Mr. Crawford authored in 2002 as a policy brief for Arizona State University. I confess that when I learned that provisions for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act would fall under a title with the number III rather than the number VII, ...


One trend I've noticed in the field of teaching English-language learners is that lots of educators are talking about how best to impart "academic English"—the language of school as opposed to social English—as efficiently as possible. At TESOL's annual conference recently, Kaye Wiley Maggart, who has written books for ELLs published by Pearson Education, encouraged teachers to refer to word lists developed by linguists to make sure students are learning the vocabulary they need to do well in school and on standardized tests. She recommended an academic word list developed by Averil Coxhead from Victoria University of Wellington,...


For the second time, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has permitted a bill to become law without her signature addressing a federal court mandate to provide adequate funding for English-language learners in that state, according to an April 15 article in the Arizona Republic. The first time that she let this happen, she contended the legislation wouldn't pass muster with the court. And she was right. This time, she also expressed her view that the matter of funding for ELLs hasn't been resolved with the new piece of legislation. We'll see what happens in the courts with this new law, which ...


I've got to admire the stamina of Foch "Tut" Pensis, the superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District in California, in pointing out aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act that he perceives to be unfair for English-language learners. You may remember that Coachella Valley is one of the California school districts that sued the state in 2005, contending that California didn't test ELLs in a reliable way. (To learn more about the details of that lawsuit, see "Another Take on Coachella Valley Unified School District v. California.") An article published this week, "Coachella Valley superintendent fights having ...


A team of researchers at the Migration Policy Institute argue that primary and secondary schools are perhaps the most important institutions for integrating immigrant families into American society. In a report released today, "Los Angeles on the Leading Edge: Immigrant Integration Indicators and their Policy Implications," they use data about English-language learners from Los Angeles—and also some national data—to document a couple of troubling trends. (Los Angeles refers to the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area. The Los Angeles Unified School District alone has 330,000 ELLs, who make up 43 percent of the system's students.) The first disturbing...


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