Saturday, January 31, 2009

BILL OF RIGHTS for English Language Learners

More than 25 percent of California’s school students speak English as their second language – and that number is rising every day. That’s an estimated 1.6 million students from kindergarten through high school who speak more than 100 different languages, many with multiple dialects.

So it’s imperative that as a society, we develop a common code and understanding of the challenges for these students in their efforts to master English at the same time they are learning their core subjects. To help focus public attention on the needs of this booming California student population, Pearson has announced a “Bill of Rights for English Learners” containing seven guiding principles:

English Learners benefit from a learning environment in which they feel respected, safe and secure;

English Learners should be treated equitably in terms of time spent meeting their individual needs;

English Learners benefi t from focused instruction from teachers who have specialized training and understanding necessary to effectively teach students whose fi rst language is not English;

English Learners benefi t from curriculum and instructional materials that are: academically challenging, possess age-appropriate content, and include subject matter that is at grade level;

English Learners benefit from access to instructional materials that make the necessary accommodations for the varying levels of English proficiency;

English Learners benefit from being taught in a way that allows them to transfer and apply knowledge of their culture and native language to the study of English;

English Learners benefit from attending schools with the resources and expertise necessary to meet their needs.

These principles will assist California and its dedicated principals, teachers, and parents in meeting the challenges of educating the nation’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse student population.