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English Language Learners
English language learners (ELLs) are students who are learning English and mastering academic content at the same time. There are 150,000 ELLs in the city’s public schools, and they are a diverse group. Among them, they speak some 140 languages. Some are newly arrived from other countries; others were born and raised in New York but do not speak English at home. They are in every grade and every borough. It is a rare teacher that does not have at least a few ELLs in class.
The school system offers a variety of instructional settings for these students — ESL classes, dual language programs and transitional bilingual education. ELLs are students in most content-area courses, too. State education law and New York City Department of Education policy govern some aspects of ELL instruction. Beyond those rules and policies, the UFT and the UFT Teacher Center have located and developed extensive resources to help educators succeed in teaching ELLs. Get a good start on them, below.
- New York State Education Commissioner’s regulations governing ELL instruction, known as “Part 154”
- New York City DOE’s policies and programs for ELLs
- Language Allocation Policy Toolkit
The DOE’s Language Allocation Policy is the systematic plan for language development that guides programmatic and curricular decisions for English language learners until the students acquire academic proficiency in English. This toolkit will help educators with this planning.
Resources and research for effective instruction for ELLs
Colorín Colorado is a free web-based service that provides information, activities and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners. It was created by the American Federation of Teachers, public TV and radio station WETA, the National Institute for Literacy, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. It includes instructional best practices, downloadable lesson plans, handouts and skill-building books, stories, activities and ideas. Sign up for their email newsletters here.
The UFT Teacher Center, the union’s professional development program, has published two editions of Centering on English Language Learners, which reviews current research on best practices for teachers of English language learners, offers experiences from teachers in the field and provides extensive web resources, too.
This report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York published by the Alliance for Excellence in Education in 2007 offers a wealth of resources to help adolescent English language learners master the reading and writing skills they need to succeed in high school, college, and the workforce.
Read about five evidence-based recommendations for improving ELLs’ performance, including screening for reading problems and providing extensive and varied vocabulary instruction. Learn the processes and challenges in identifying learning disabilities among ELL students.
The UFT Teacher Center website has compiled classroom resources, ESL tools, lessons, activities, glossaries, references, downloadable materials and more to support ELL instruction.