Students who are English Language Learners (ELL) normally participate in programs aimed at improving their language. The three most popular programs are (English as a Second Language) ESL, (High Intensity Language Training) HILT and bilingual education. To improve the effectiveness and success rate of these language programs, technology should be integrated into the learning process. To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by the University of Cincinnati Online Masters degree in Education program.
Over the last decade, the number of ELL students in public schools has been fluctuating. For instance, the number of ELL students between 2002-2003 was 4.12 million. The number increased to 4.42 million between 2005-2006. In the year 2012, the number of ELL students in public schools stood at 4.39 million.
It is estimated that over 12 million children in the United States who are aged between 5-17 years old speak a different language when they are at home. More than 2.6 million of these children have difficulty speaking English fluently.
Over the last decade, the percentage of U.S school-age children who speak another language at home has increased steadily. For instance, only 18.5% of school age children spoke another language at home in the year 2002. The percentage has since risen to well over 22%.
Languages Spoken by ELL Students
While the majority of ELL students in the United States speak Spanish, more than 150 other languages are spoken by these students. Other major languages spoken by ELL students include; Chinese (3.8%), Vietnamese (2.7%), French (2.1%), German (1.5%), Korean (1.5%) and Arabic (1.2%).
Challenges of ELL Education
One of the main challenges of ELL education is a difficult home environment. It is estimated that 60% of school-age children who speak a different language at home have parents who never graduated high school. Secondly, 3 million school-age children who speak another language at home do not live with anyone older than 14 years old who speaks English fluently, which is a huge problem. Over 30% of school age children who speak another language at home live below the poverty threshold.
Achievement gap is another major challenge of ELL education. ELL students have significantly lower scores compared to non-ELL students on standardized reading tests. In the year 2009, there was a 29 point gap between ELL Hispanic students and non-ELL Hispanic students when they did a 4th grade reading test. The gap was even wider (39 points) when they did a standardized 8th grade reading test. In 2011, the gap widened further to 36 points and 44 points respectively on the 4th and 8th grade reading achievement tests done by the ELL and non-ELL students.
Poor literacy in native languages is also considered a major challenge of ELL education. It is estimated that 39% of ELL students nationwide have little literacy in their native languages. This makes it difficult for ELL students to become literate in English. Unfortunately, only 63% of schools offer ELL programs where instruction is offered in English with native language support. An even smaller number (17%) offer ELL programs where instruction is offered in both English and the native language with the aim of achieving biliteracy. On the other hand, only 14% of schools offer ELL programs where instruction is provided in both English and native language with the aim of attaining proficiency in English.
Teacher preparedness has also been cited as a challenge of ELL education. Only 2.6% of teachers who are assigned to instruct ELL students possess a degree in bilingual education or ESL. 40% of teachers believe that improving the skills of general education teachers to instruct English Language Learners would positively impact their ability to instruct these language learners. On the other hand, 34% of teachers believe their current ELL materials do not reflect the rigor required by the common core.
Technology in the ELL Classroom
There are many benefits of technology in the ELL classroom. For one, it helps students gain digital job skills. It also makes science easier to learn and facilitates social interaction. Most importantly, however, the use of technology in ELL classrooms leads to higher student engagement.
Online and offline software are highly important and already being used in ELL classrooms. It is estimated that 29% of urban district and school-level staff use online programs as a way of instructing English Language Learners. On the other hand, 18% of urban district and school-level staff use programs installed locally on computers as a way of instructing ELLs.
Integrating Technology into the ELL Classroom
Teachers can use multimedia projects as a tool for assessing the level of comprehension of their students. These projects also help students express their thoughts and show what they have learned.
Social networking sites, on the other hand, help students build interpersonal skills. They also help teachers to monitor the behavior and progress of their students.
Online Translators are perhaps the most important piece of technology for ELL students as they provide the much-needed assistance to students who are completely not comfortable with English.
Technology can also be used to help students practice and learn English in a fun way through online games, puzzles, songs and word games delivered through instructional software.
Add This Infographic to Your Site