2010: A Year of English Learning

by Jennifer Kobrin on January 5, 2011

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On Monday, children all over the U.S. returned to school to start the second half of the year. Although teachers (and former teachers like me) know the real year begins in September, I’m going by the calendar to present a look back at the year of English Learners and Learning in 2010. 

  • The English Learner population continued to rise in states like Indiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina—all three states have experienced over 200% growth in the past few years.  In September I spent a week traveling around the Hoosier state talking to people who work with ELs. You can see what they had to say by reading my blog entry about the experience here.
  • The Federal Office of English Language Acquisition welcomed a new Director, Rosalinda B. Barrera . According to EdWeek, Ms. Barrera plans to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) a focus for English Learner students. 
  • The California Department of Education published a new book, Improving Education for English Learners.  A chapter entitled “Effective English Literacy Instruction for English Learners,” features Diane August and Timothy Shanahan, who published a definitive research synthesis about the same topic in 2006, for the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth.
  • In other news, the state of Arizona set a new precedent for stringent anti-immigrant legislation, requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone who is believed to be in the country illegally. As immigrants fled and Mexico pledged a boycott, Jon Stewart found humor in the situation. NPR reported yesterday that Arizona is being investigated at the federal level for its policy of Structured English Immersion, which places ELs in separate classes for four hour blocks.
  • Foundations, Inc. (that’s us!) released a downloadable CD resource, ‘Leveraging Afterschool for EL Success.’ You can check out the content for free here.
  • In October, the California Afterschool Network hosted the first-ever English Learners in Afterschool Summit.  A second summit, in Southern California, is planned for early February. The summit featured Laurie Olsen, who authored a report released earlier in 2010 about the problem of long-term English Learners. I also presented a workshop: Crucial Links, Practical Strategies: Aligning School and Afterschool to Support ELs.
  • Here in Philadelphia, the School District launched several new initiatives to help ELs, including four enrollment centers and a parent University with ESOL classes. Three Newcomer Learning Academies also opened to help beginner ELs ages fourteen to twenty make successful transitions. I’m planning to visit one of the Newcomer Academies and will report back early next month.
  • Still DREAM-ing? Although the House passed the US Dream act, a measure that would allow immigrants without American citizenship but who have a good high school record to attend college, the Senate did not pass the bill. It seems unlikely the bill will pass this year.
  • For more: Check-out Larry Ferlazzo (a popular ELL blogger and teacher) with education-related predictions for 2011 on the Huffington Post.

Have an education-related resolution for 2011? We’d love to hear it!

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