I know at least one person here in the nation's capital who follows issues concerning English-language learners and at times has been as persistent as I have been in bugging the U.S. Department of Education for information: Don Soifer, the executive vice president for the Lexington Institute, in Arlington, Va., a conservative think tank. Both Mr. Soifer and I have noticed that the Education Department has so far taken one extra year to prepare a two-year evaluation of programs for English-language learners than it took to prepare its previous evaluation on such programs. The two-year report to the U.S....


An author of a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald published today contends that some school districts in Illinois are fulfilling the state's mandate to provide bilingual education by hiring Spanish-speaking teachers who aren't fluent in English nor certified to teach. She says Illinois should provide flexibility for schools to choose the method to teach English-language learners. I came across the letter over at TESOL in the News Blog. Someone called VLN, who apparently favors the mandate, writes in the comment section below the letter: "It's not just about learning English. It's about preserving their native language and ...


In trying to help English-language learners to feel more welcome, officials of the Phoenix-Talent School District in Phoenix, Ore., are starting with school buses, according to a March 10 article in the Mail Tribune. At a recent training, 15 bus drivers were told that it's important for them to greet students warmly, learn their names, and keep them engaged by delegating responsibilities. (Sounds like a good policy for interacting with people in general.) A high school student is quoted in the article as saying that some bus drivers often act irritated and she wishes that they were friendlier. I couldn't ...


For at least a decade, one-fourth of California's primary and secondary school students have, on average, been English-language learners. So educators in states that are the "new kids on the block" in teaching such students might want to spend some time with EdSource's report, "English Learners in California: What the Numbers Say." (The 16-page report costs $5.) The report gives some answers to important questions about student achievement, and poses some additional questions that need to be answered. Those answers will carry weight because California enrolls one-third of the nation's ELLs. It's interesting, for example, that the EdSource researchers found ...


If signed into law, a bill passed in the Utah legislature last week would help create 15 dual-language programs at elementary schools, according to a March 7 article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The programs would teach Chinese, Spanish, French, and Navajo, along with English. Last summer, the legislature in Texas passed a bill to create a six-year pilot project for dual-language programs in 10 Texas school districts. See "School Districts That Offer Dual-Language Classes Through High School." In dual-language programs, children who are native speakers of English and children who are native speakers of another language, such as Spanish, ...


Several of Education Week's blogs, including Learning the Language, have received "excellent" ratings from a company called Blogged.com. I received an e-mail message from a marketing person from the company saying my blog had been given a 9.5 score out of 10 by editors who evaluated my blog according to frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design, and writing style. According to Webware: Cool Web 2.0 Apps for Everyone, Blogged.com is a blog rating service that launched on Feb. 25. The "About Us" section of blogged.com says it has a database of more than ...


Over the weekend, I traveled to Memphis to give a speech about trends in the education of English-language learners. I spoke during a luncheon at the annual conference of the Tennessee Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Here are the trends that I talked about: --More immigrant families are moving to small-town or rural communities that haven't received many immigrants for at least a century. (I noted that some school districts in those small towns and rural areas do a good job of quickly putting programs in place to serve English-language learners while others don't.) --The federal No ...


I draw your attention to the reporting project that took me to Amman, Jordan, for 10 days: "The Lost Years: Iraqi Students in Jordan," a collection of photos, videos, and an in-depth article about Iraqi refugees. It was published this week by Education Week. The project isn't, of course, about English-language learners in the United States—the subject of this blog—but many of the nation's ELLs are refugees and the piece might give you some insight into issues affecting displaced people in general. What was most surprising to me in reporting for this project was that so many Iraqi...


Geraldo Rivera, the T.V. star who hosts a show on Fox News, has written a book, His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. He argues that the U.S. Congress should provide a path to legalization for the 12 million people in this country lacking residency or citizenship papers. He writes: "Who but the most eager and hardy can walk across forty or fifty miles of parched desert, dodge dopers, coyotes, and the feds, endure hardship and risk life and limb just to get a job at the other end of a gauntlet of discomfort and ...


Radio Arte, a public radio station in the Pilson neighborhood of Chicago, is putting young Latinos' voices on the air. Martin Macias, who is 18, broadcast a commentary, "How to Get My Vote," on Radio Arte that was picked up last month by National Public Radio. "In Chicago, immigration reform is the hottest issue," Martin says in his radio commentary. "My people want to know if mass deportation is the kind of radical change that comes with a new president. We don't support it." He also informs the radio audience that candidates better not assume any more that Latinos don't ...


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