- An excerpt from a new book, "Navigating the Common Core With English Language Learners," by Larry Ferlazzo and his co-author Katie Hull Sypnieski, argues three overarching concepts in Common Core-aligned writing standards — argument, informative/explanatory and narrative — should be stressed for ELL learners instead of details like perfect grammar.
- The authors also stress that ELL learners need to be able to learn from models more than non-ELL learners when it comes to writing; especially before undertaking independent writing projects.
- Collaborative projects can also help ELL learners, who can learn from classmates in addition to receiving guidance from educators.
Traditionally, educators have been divided over how best to serve ELL populations, so the new guidance from authors Ferlazzo and Sypnieski should be welcomed by districts. This divide can be seen from state to state as well, since ELL programs are also sometimes subject to political maneuvering and posturing by policymakers. Thirty-one states have formally ruled English as their official language. California, Arizona and Massachusetts have all implemented English-only policies, shutting down bilingual studies.
As debate continues over English-only learning versus bilingual inclusivity, the number of American students who don't speak English at home continues to increase. It's now estimated to be around 4 million.
An innovative new ELL model has seen success recently in Oregon. The program, called "Language for All," calls for increased collaboration with community partners and parents, and for districts to secure blended funding streams for ELL learning. The program has all elementary school students participate in daily oral-language development time, instead of singling out ELL students for individualized language and reading instruction.