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English Language Learner

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Some reports portray English language learners as a new and homogenous population. Actually ELLs are a highly heterogeneous and complex group of students, with diverse gifts, educational needs, backgrounds, languages, and goals. An English language learner is an individual that is of another culture and has migrated to America to live, learn, become educated and find a career. English language learners have been coming to America and continue to migrate here more and more. Most of them speak different languages as Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages. Students in today’s society, of all ages and cultures, are provided by the law equal access to a quality education. Voter driven initiatives/laws relating to English language learners have brought about great changes in education in the schools of today.

Over the last 40 years, U.S English language education has been shaped by a variety of legal and legislative decisions. The states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Oregon have debated and voted on and these voters have been asked to make decisions about the education of the English language learners (Mora, 2009). Only three states, California (1998), Massachusetts (2002), and Arizona (2000) passed the laws for English-only learners to be put in programs, and Colorado (2002) and Oregon (2008) rejected the initiatives of the ballot (Mora, 2009).The voters that were against having bilingual education for the students were part of the English only group. In today’s society, policies are designed to put education laws into place. Standards for teachers as well as educational standards for students are enforced by schools to make sure students are offered a quality education. Much debate lies in the cultural and sociological impact this initiative has on families and children of English language learners. Those who argue in favor believe that it is vital for English language learners to become proficient in the English language to fully adapt in American societies and achieve academic success.

In order to be a full participant in the American culture, proponents believe that it is necessary for ELLs to abandon one’s native language and culture. During the 196Os, blacks and other minority groups held demonstrations to protest underemployment, inadequate housing, poor representation in government, and lack of educational opportunity. The 88th Congress passed the civil rights act in 1964, which stated the concept of equality in federal law. The enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 was constructed due to the emphasis on equality. Title I of the ESEA provided assistance to educational agencies for children of low income families. While this benefitted many inner city children, it did not target students who suffered specifically from language barriers. An act known as, The Bilingual Education Act, is noted as the first official federal recognition of the needs of students with limited English speaking ability. This act supports programs for educating language-minority students and funded by the federal law it provides legal guidelines for transitional bilingual education programs.

Grants funded to schools by this act must be used for resources for educational programs, training for teachers and teacher aides, development and dissemination of materials, and parent involvement projects. The struggle for equality and nondiscrimination in education at all levels has a long history in the United States. Congress enacted the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA)in 1974, to champion the rights of all children to have equal educational opportunities. The EEOA affirms that no state shall deny educational opportunity based on race, color, sex, or national origin by engaging in deliberate segregation by an educational agency; failing to remedy deliberate segregation; assigning a student, other than to a school closest to his or her residence, that results in a greater degree of segregation of students on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin; discriminating by an educational agency on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the employment of faculty or staff; transferring students from one school to another, voluntarily or otherwise, if the purpose and effect of doing so would have increased segregation on the basis of race, color, or national origin; or failing to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs. (Education Law, 2010)

As society continues to grow with so many immigrants coming to the United States I feel that we need to give these individuals the opportunity to get a good and equal education. I am very much for them learning our English language as their primary language if they plan on becoming a citizen. It bothers me that there are so many immigrants that do not try to learn the English language and they continue to take away jobs from American citizens. My feeling is that if you are going to live in this country than learning the English language should be top priority. I don’t feel that I am racist or against other cultures but as an American citizen I get frustrated when speaking to someone on the phone or in person that I cannot understand because of their lack of speaking the English language. Another view of mine is that if American citizens were to migrate to another individuals country those people would want us to learn their language if we anticipated on living there. I feel it is respect toward the society and community you choose to live within.


The Bilingual Education Act: Twenty Years Later, (n.d.), Reviewed 11/23/2012 from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/files/rcd/BE021037/Fall88_6.pdf Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) – Law and Higher Education, (n.d.), Reviewed 11/24/2012 from http://lawhighereducation.com/52-equal-educational-opportunities-act-eeoa.html A Nation with Multiple Languages, (n.d.), Reviewed 11/24/2012 from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/PolicyResearch/ELLResearchBrief.pdf Echevarria, Jana, MaryEllen Vogt and, Deborah J. Short. Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: SIOP Model, “Allyn & Bacon, 2013”.

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