English Learners in the United States include students who are commonly referred to as English language learners (ELLs), dual language learners (DLLs), newcomers, students with interrupted formal schooling (SIFE), long-term English learners (L-TELs), English learners with disabilities, gifted and talented English learners, heritage language learners, students with English as an additional language (EAL), and students who speak varieties of English or indigenous languages (Source: WIDA ELD Standards Framework). These students all have diverse cultural experiences, background knowledge, and education levels. Experts agree that their language acquisition can best grow from instruction that embraces their culture and prior knowledge while also supporting their understanding and use of English as they engage in all classroom activities across content areas. Educators are aware that these students need differentiated and personalized support in order to be successful but they often are not fully equipped with the strategies and resources necessary to support each of their students to be successful. This challenge is becoming increasingly important for educators to focus on as English Learners now make up roughly 1 in 10 public school students and the number of English Learners are increasing across the country each year (source: National Center for Education Statistics).
What We Believe
We believe that all educators across content areas need to be equipped with the strategies and tools to provide personalized support, scaffolds, modifications, and accommodations for English Learners to access the curriculum and engage in complex tasks and texts.
We believe educators must employ instructional strategies appropriate to each student's stage of language acquisition and ensure learning is visible in order to regularly assess each student's language development, purposefully tailor their instruction to each student's needs, and closely monitor each student's progress.
We believe educators in all disciplines must provide English Learners with learning opportunities that integrate meaningful language development skills - including reading, writing, speaking, and listening - with the practices, context, and content of each discipline.
We believe that educators should leverage their students' home language(s), cultural assets, and prior knowledge in order to honor their students' diverse backgrounds and experiences and ultimately ensure all instructional content is both meaningful and comprehensible to a diverse set of learners.
We believe that effective collaboration between educators, school leaders, and parents who work with a given English Learner can lead to a better understanding of each student's language-based needs and the supports that will allow them to be successful.
BL Blog Posts
Tolleson, Amy. Scaffolding Academic Discussions for English Language Learners. October 8, 2019.
Hawks, Natalee. Tech Supports for Authentic Language Development. March 21, 2019.
Savas, Tori. Vocabulary Strategies to Promote Student Growth with English Language Development. December 8, 2019.
Mitchell, Corey. Schools are Falling Short for Many English Learners. EdWeek. March 7. 2017.
Robertson, Kristina and Ford, Karen. Language Acquisition: An Overview. Colorin Colorado.
Sparks, Sara. Teaching English Language Learners: What Does the Research Tell Us? EdWeek. May 11, 2016.