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English Language Learners - ELL



English Language Learners (ELL) describe the student population of the United States that are actively engaging in learning the English language after immigrating to the country. English Language Learners strive to learn and speak English accurately and fluently.

Millions of immigrants have made their way to the U.S. over the past couple hundred years. Because of this influx of traffic from non-English speaking countries and the number of foreign-born U.S. population, it is important to recognize these ELLs. Many of the ELLs might struggle with learning the language, but often become an active learning of the English language. There are many of these programs available in public and private school systems as well as extra community-sponsored classes that help these immigrants and potential new citizens of the United States learn the language and become productive members society in the United States. 

Most states throughout the country offer ELLs vital resources to help learn the language. However, is there really enough help and understanding available to assist ELLs? Because so many English Language Learners fall at different points on the educational spectrum as they undertake this enormous task of learning English, it is important for educators to realize that regardless of age, these ELL students are going to learn a different paces. Encouraging a strong motivation for those foreign to the United States to learn English is an important part of helping integrate these individuals into a productive part of society. In fact ELLs are actually among the fastest-growing student population in the country. Clearly measures need to be taken in the education system to ensure the needs of these students are met when it comes to learning English. 

Characteristics of a Strong ELL Program:

In order to ensure these needs are met through a successful ELL program, there are a few ways educators can go about making sure this happens for ELLs. First, it is important that the programs require an explicit delineation of what students should be able to know, understand and speak at specific levels. Knowing what to expect can help educators know when a certain student needs more assistance or one-on-one time to help get them on par with learning the language. Many public schools already have standards for traditional learning that are akin to this method. That is why it is so important to have the funding and resources for students that need extra help when it comes to learning English. Because English is one of the most difficult languages to learn and fully comprehend its usage, it is clear why so many foreign immigrants have difficulty learning the language. 

Teachers in ELL programs also need to understand the research surrounding a successful ELL program. There are certain teaching techniques that are more effective than others that teachers would benefit to adhere to when implementing this learning process in their own classroom. Assessments and testing can carry major consequences for ELLs since this educational progression plays a role in the type of services they have available to them. It might also determine their future learning experiences like post high school education. Following the research-based guidelines is a great way for educators to make sure the learning process is fair for those ELLs. 

There are a couple of ways to go about this. First, educators should adapt to the national standards for learning when teaching ELLs. Next, it is important to avoid any single type of assessment. Because students of all types learn in different ways it is important to try and adhere to these different learning and testing styles. Avoiding teaching and testing always in English can actually be helpful. This type of teaching helps the students make that comparison to their native language to English. It is also important to note that some tests in America might have cultural and historical knowledge that might be unfamiliar to ELLs and therefore more difficult to understand. 

Ultimately it is best to level the playing field when it comes to educating ELLs. Making sure they have ample opportunity to learn just like their native English speaking peers is the best way to see ELLs progress well within the classroom and eventually become responsible and contributing adults as citizens of the United States. 

Sources: ncte.org