ELL in National and International Education

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National Organizations, USA: 

  1. The NEA pushes for both big-picture advocacy and research based pedagogy in designing ELL curriculum. Their Training Module for closing the achievement gap between ELL and native students is a valuable tool and worthy goal for every school system with ELL learners.1

-The NEA is a great resource because it has a hand in guiding policy and reporting on current research/pedagogy. The NEA site could be an invaluable resource for school systems wishing to stay up to date on research and closing the achievement gap.

2. As it relates to ELL, the CCSS face a daunting prospect. The number of ELLs in public schools has increased to almost 6 million, or a full 1 in 10.6 This prompted further studies into how best teach ELLs, led by Stanford University. They found that rather than just focusing on vocabulary and grammar, teaching ELLs in the context of CCSS requires a much more in depth approach using discourse, complex text, argumentation, etc.6

-I think this is a step in the right direction for ELL. CCSS recognizes that the problem of underserving ELLs is pervasive and requires new approaches. In that vein, they have developed new proficiency assessments that I hope to be able to study and use more in depth in the future.

3. The AFT uses a service called “Colorin Colorado” as its main outreach to ELL students, parents, and teachers. Their website is full of useful resources and is based around being bilingual (English & Spanish). This organization works tirelessly to promote ELL and equip everyone involved with the necessary skills to succeed.

-I think “Colorin Colorado” is a glimpse of the future. It’s based around a simple premise: that ELL should be accessible to every student who needs it. Their site is user friendly and even has a section on how to take ELLs through a “chapter walk,” breaking down common textbook themes and how to navigate them.5 This is an invaluable resource and the kind of thing I hope to see more of in the future.

International Organizations:

4. The International Schools Association (ISA) sponsors oral examinations for elementary through secondary levels. First used in Argentina, these oral exams are now used in many countries with growing interest.

-I believe greater standardization and accountability will help EFL teachers in an international setting. I hope efforts by respected organizations such as ISA bring greater trust and transparency to an often opaque industry. This is sometimes a contentious process, as it’s difficult to agree on what should be tested for in an English proficiency test. For example, Korean public schools currently put a lot of focus on testing and vocabulary but little on proficient speaking.

5. The Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) was founded in 1967 to improve American dependent education overseas. Growing to over 300 school memberships, AAIE now promotes worldwide education with its school-to-school system. While ELL is not one of its stated goals, AAIE does promote American Standard English in its school-to-school program.

-Connecting schools across the globe is a great endeavor. With connections to organizations like AAIE, more teachers, students, and parents will be able to network and advance common ELL goals, such as sharing curriculum and assessment methods.

6. As part of their drive for equitable access, UNICEF is focusing on the over 59 million primary school-age children being denied education.4 As the drive to universal enrollment intensifies, ELL will only become more important. It’s my hope that attention from such major organizations will draw more resources into sustainable and productive ELL practices.

  1. Gustavo, L. (n.d.). Equity & Language Training Module for Closing Achievement Gaps. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.nea.org/home/32414.htm
  2. ISA Oral English Exam. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.isaschools.org/index.php/services/isa-oral-english-exam
  3. Paul, R. (n.d.). AAIE History. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.aaie.org/about-aaie/aaie-history
  4. Pietrasik, T. (2016, January 27). Equitable Access. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from https://www.unicef.org/education/bege_61657.html
  5. Teaching ELLs to Navigate Textbooks Effectively. (2015). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://colorincolorado.org/article/teaching-ells-navigate-textbooks-effectively
  6. TESOL International Association. (2013, March). Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELLs. Alexandria, VA: Author, from http://www.tesol.org/docs/advocacy/overview-of-common-core-state-standards-initiatives-for-ells-a-tesol-issue-brief-march-2013.pdf?sfvrsn=4
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