Melissa Mellor

Today's Whole Child Podcast: Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners

The April Whole Child Podcast is now available for download. Chris Swanson from Education Week's Editorial Projects in Education Research Center kicks off the episode by sharing findings from Quality Counts 2009: Portrait of a Population. He discusses how the English language learner (ELL) population is an incredibly diverse group that speaks more than 100 languages, shares the surprising finding that more than two-thirds of English-language learners are native born, and talks about the worrisome achievement gaps between ELL students and their peers.

Next, Margarita Gonzalez Amador, an English language program coordinator from the Los Angeles Unified School District, describes her district's efforts to support its 240,000 ELL students. She talks about the importance of providing support and information to parents so that they're empowered to advocate on behalf of their children and ask the right questions about their achievement. She also describes L.A. Unified's movement towards school-focused professional development that is targeted to each school's individual needs and strives for continuous improvement in student performance.

Evangeline Barela, a dual-language second-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary (Las Cruces Public Schools) in New Mexico, closes the podcast with a description of how her school supports ELL students in the classroom. Columbia offers both English immersion programs, in which students are taught only in English, and dual-language classrooms, in which students are taught in their native languages during their first semester and in their second language during their second semester. Barela explains the differences, including the pros and cons, between the two approaches and describes the difficulties associated with testing English language learners.

Download the Whole Child Podcast today! After listening to the podcast, share how your school and community are meeting the needs of English language learners in the comments below.

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