Facts & Myths

What do you think you know about the English language learners in your school? What do you know about teaching English as a second language? Sylvia Vardell, our reVIEWS+ collections editor, debunks four common myths about learning English as a new language.

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ESL students learning English as a second language are the fastest growing group in U.S. schools today. These learners come from a multitude of countries and backgrounds with many born right here. They speak many languages, and their reading levels range from preschool to high school. These students can experience great cognitive and emotional demands as they are asked to quickly learn both language and content in order to participate fully in the school curriculum and in classroom life.

As we as librarians and educators think about our students who are learning English as a new language, as we select appropriate books for our libraries and plan meaningful programs and instruction, it can be helpful to consider some of our questions and preconceptions about language learning. What do you know about what it’s like to learn a new language? What can you do in the library to support students learning English as a new language?

MYTH #1: Most students learning English as a new language are born outside of the United States. Continue reading “Facts & Myths”

ICYMI: Sylvia Vardell on Lit for ELL Readers

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In case you missed it, check out Sylvia Vardell’s recent editorial from reVIEWS+ for our issue on English language learners.

Did you know?

  • It is estimated that there are 4.4 million public school students in the United States who are English language learners (ELL).
  • English language learners represent approximately 10.3 percent of the total public school student enrollment in the U.S.
  • Twenty-one percent (21%) of all urban public school students across the U.S. are English language learners.
  • The English language learning population is the fastest-growing population of public school students in the U.S.
  • An increasing number of English language learners are newcomers to U.S. schools, having just recently immigrated to the United States.
  • There are 400 languages spoken by English language learners across the U.S.

The great majority of students learning English claim Spanish as their native language (79%), followed by Vietnamese (2%), Hmong (1.6 %), Chinese, Cantonese (1%), Korean (1%), and other (15.4%).
If you work in public schools in the U.S., particularly in cities, you have certainly encountered students who are learning English as a new language. They may have recently emigrated from other countries or have grown up in families within the U.S. who don’t speak English fluently. Many years ago, that was ME! My parents were born and raised in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. shortly after I was born. Continue reading “ICYMI: Sylvia Vardell on Lit for ELL Readers”