- Approximately 4 million American students don't speak English at home, and that number continues to increase.
- 1968's Bilingual Education Act still guides ELL learning today, and is wrapped into No Child Left Behind.
- Debate continues over English-only learning versus bilingual inclusivity, with a growing number of educators advocating for bilingualism.
Across the U.S, a total of 31 states have formally ruled that English is their official language. California, Arizona, and Massachusetts have all implemented English-only policies, shutting down bilingual studies. Yet in diverse states like California, 44% of residents speak a language other than English at home.
Advocates say that it's important for ELL students to learn their own native language as well. "Many of these students have no literacy in the language they speak," Olga Kagan, director of UCLA's National Heritage Language Resource Center wrote in a L.A. Times op-ed last year. "…By not teaching the languages that many students often only half-know, we are missing an opportunity to expand the number of Americans completely comfortable with other languages and cultures — a tremendous asset in today's increasingly globalized world."
As the number of ELL students continues to rise, educators will continue grappling with and evolving teaching methodology. Accountability in ELL learning has also been an ongoing contention, with the Department of Education taking a "mixed approach" to accountability measures. According to the Institute of Education Statistics, in the District of Columbia and six states, Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, "10% or more of public school students were English language learners, with ELL students constituting 22.8% of public school enrollment in California."