A current issue in education is the increase of English language learners being integrated into the education system. The term English language learners or ELLs, are students who are learning English as a second language.The background of these students varies greatly.Some are recent immigrants who are older and proficient in their own language but have limited or no English skills.Younger immigrant students may not even hear English at home.This causes ELL students to become frustrated in schools where the primary instruction is given in English.
According to theNational Center for Education Statistics the population of ELLs has increased greatly over the past years from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009, or from 10 to 21 percent of the population in this age range. Enrollment of ELLs has also seen an increase from 90 to 93 percent between 1980 and 2009. Therefore the educational system must redesign their instruction methods in order for all students to succeed.
Educational experts conclude that the instructional practices need to change to be able to reach these students. In The BALANCED VIEW: Bilingual Education by Westchester Institute For Human Servicesstudies have concluded that "...children learn English faster and are more likely to excel academically if they are given several years of instruction in their native language first."Unfortunately the case is still torn between those for and those against bilingual education. Because of the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, bilingual education has been attacked at the federal and state level.Statewide anti-bilingual initiatives have passed in states like California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. As seen in the following articles,The Case Against Bilingual Educationand Bilingual Education Is A Human and Civil Right, the people of America stand divided. Each article states specific reason for why they feel the way they do. In the end the important question is, "What is best for the ELL student?"
Check out this video as Jerome Socolovsky visits a bilingual school in a suburb of Washington, DC.
ELLs are still entering the schools in great numbers and need and deserve the opportunity to learn and succeed.The issue of bilingual education in schools cannot be ignored and as seen in the video above the bilingual education program is working not only for ELLs but for native English speaking students as well.