english learners in california
California law states, “the government and the public schools of California have a moral obligation and a constitutional duty to provide all of California’s children, regardless of their ethnicity or national origins, with the skills necessary to become productive members of our society, and of these skills, literacy in the English language is among the most important”. By this statement, California dedicates its efforts to making sure that all students become English language proficient; this includes English learners and non-English learners alike. However, with English the chosen language of instruction, limited English proficient students miss out on the same opportunity of academic success as non-English learners.
According to the California Department of Education, monolingual English-speaking students enter school with speaking vocabularies between 2,000 to 8,000 words, vastly different from the vocabularies of entering English learners. Moreover, there are about 1.4 million English learners in California, constituting about 22.7% of total enrollment in California public schools. So how does California help their English learner population?
Many states and districts form committees with experts to help create guidelines to support their states’ teachers and staff who work with English Learners. The California Department of Education, for example, provides assistance to local schools and districts in helping English Learners achieve the following goals:
- Ensure that English learners acquire full proficiency in English as rapidly and effectively as possible and attain parity with native speakers of English.
- Ensure that English learners, within a reasonable period of time, achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students.
In addition, the California State Board of Education has created a California English Language Development Standards Implementation Plan that provides a very thorough plan-of-action for helping English learners achieve school success. The plan “describes the rationale and strategies for the successful integration of the CA ELD Standards, which align to the CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy, to address the English language and literacy skills that English learners need in key content areas”. For additional information on CA ELD Standards and resources for teaching California’s English learners, visit the California Department of Education webpage here.
Getting Parents Involved
A portion of a good district plan includes working with English learners by providing English support and resources for parents. In fact, the California Education Code allows funding for schools “to provide adult English language instruction programs to parents who pledge to provide personal English language tutoring to California school children with limited English proficiency”. Essentially, the provision facilitates increasing parent involvement and developing English language vocabulary skills for English learners –both of which are keys to school success and goals of The Latino Family Literacy Project™.
As of yet, parent involvement doesn’t have a lot of structure and standards. However, if a district coordinates its efforts to have all schools provide the same program for strong outcomes in parent involvement with English learners, they can reach their goals in graduating students with the language needed for academic success. The Latino Family Literacy Project™ is an example of an program designed for English learners whose native language is Spanish. Moreover, our program also provides expert training to educators so they are equipped to help not only their students learn academic language, but also provide parents with effective strategies that will allow them to support their children as they learn academic language. For more information on our programs, visit our web page.