« ELLs Who Master English Early More Likely to Graduate On Time, Study Finds | Main | Trump Vows to 'Work Something Out' for DREAMers, But Offers No Details on Plan »

Majority of English-Learner Students Are Born in the United States, Analysis Finds

The majority of English-language learners in U.S. K-12 schools were born in the United States, according to an analysis from the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.

The institute's analysis of U.S. Census data found that 82 percent of prekindergarten to 5th grade English-learners and 65 percent of 6th and 12th grade English-learners are U.S.-born.

The data included children ages 5 to 17 who live with at least one parent. The decision to rely on that set of numbers may have excluded sizable portions of the nation's K-12 ELL population, namely older English-learner students with interrupted formal education and some undocumented students, including unaccompanied minors separated from parents and other family.Capture U.S.- and Foreign-Born ELLs.PNG

The analysis identifies 2.2 million limited English proficient residents between the ages of 5 and 17. That's less than half the number of English-learners that the U.S. Department of Education estimates attended public elementary and secondary schools during the 2013-14 school year.

The U.S.- and foreign-born children grow up learning English in school while also hearing and speaking one of more than 350 languages used in the United States at home; the analysis found that speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog account for roughly 70 percent of the overall population of immigrants and U.S. natives using a language other than English at home.

The federal education department data indicates that Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese are the top three home languages for English-language learners in the nation's public schools.

Overall, the Migration Policy Institute analysis found that more than half of U.S. residents who spoke a foreign language in 2015 were also English-proficient.

Related Stories

Spanish, Arabic, Chinese Are the Top Home Languages for ELLs in U.S. Schools

Districts Diversify Languages Offered in Dual Immersion

How Long Does it Take ELLS to Develop English Proficiency?

Image Source: Migration Policy Institute

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more