Learning English is not just about learning a language – especially when we consider K-12 students who must also learn subject matter knowledge like geometry, history, and concepts in art, for example. Sonia Nieto (2010) has just written a concise CAL Digest on this and other topics related to language learning in the United States. Here’s a quote:
“Students Learning English Need More Than Language Instruction
Why do we persist in thinking that students learning English can only be learning English? This is what Luis Moll (1992, p. 20) has termed “the obsession with speaking English,” as if learning English were the solution to all the difficulties faced by students who are not native speakers of English. All students should learn English, of course, and they should learn it well, but they also need to learn science, math, music, art, social studies, and other content. If learning English is their sole challenge, how do we account for the 50% high school dropout rate among Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans, even among those who are fluent in English (Orfield, 2004), including some who are monolingual English speakers? At the same time that we teach all students English, we need to focus on the crushing conditions that pose tremendous barriers to student learning: poverty, racism, inequality, poorly financed schools, tracking, unfair testing policies, lack of access to an excellent education, and negative ideologies about bilingual education and second language learners (Kozol, 2005).” (p. 3)
To read more of Dr. Nieto’s (2010) article, “Language, Diversity, and Learning: Lessons for Education in the 21st Century” you can download it free here:
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Everyday ELL is now Every Language Learner.