“In Plain English?” English Language Learning in the U.S.

The US is a country of many languages. In public schools, about 10 percent (4.5 million) of all kids are English Language Learners (ELLs). Of those ELLs, Spanish is the first language of about 71 percent, but there are hundreds of different languages spoken in US schools. Any one school can have a dozen or more languages spoken by its students.

Schools put different types of learning programs in place to help students transition to speaking English. One example is sheltered instruction, which combines English language development strategies with content area instruction.

American schools typically offer five categories of English language programs. The programs offered at any given school or district depend on school demographics, student characteristics, and available resources.  The US Department of Education provides resources to educators working with ELL and foreign born students, such as the Newcomer Toolkit.

Check out the graphic below to learn more about ELL learning in the US.  To find diverse children’s books in many languages to support literacy among ELLs, feel free to browse the Language Lizard website.

(Graphic included with permission from Gergich & Co.)

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