Monday, April 29, 2013

Helping English Language Learners: Some Suggestions

Helping English learners: Some suggestions
Published in the Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2013

“Lawsuit: State fails some English learners” (April 25) does not mention two approaches to help those acquiring English, both with substantial research support.

One is bilingual education, dismantled by Proposition 227 over a decade ago. Research consistently shows that students in bilingual programs outperform students in all-English programs on tests of English reading.  Also, studies show that Proposition 227 did not improve English proficiency.

Second, there is strong evidence that those who do more pleasure reading in English do better on English language tests, and case histories reveal that those who succeeded in acquiring the English needed for school were dedicated readers. California English learners, however, have a hard time finding books: California ranks near the bottom of the country in school library quality and is dead last in the ratio of school librarians per student.

Lawsuits should include restoring bilingual education and investing more in libraries and librarians.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

Some sources:

Research on bilingual education: Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2007. English Learners in American Classrooms. New York: Scholastic.

Pleasure reading and English: Krashen, S. 2011. Free Voluntary Reading. Westport: Libraries Unlimited. Krashen, S. and Williams, C. 2012. Is Self-Selected Pleasure Reading the Cure for the Long-Term ELL Syndrome? A Case History. NABE Perspectives September-December 2012, p.26

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