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Jeff MacSwan Co-Authors NAS Report on Educating English Learners
“In general, English Learners struggle in school,” Dr. MacSwan said. “Schools are tasked by federal law with helping students learn English while keeping them on-track with their peers academically. There’s a need for clarity and understanding of how to best achieve that goal and this report brought together experts to provide consensus on these research issues.”
English Learners (ELs) make up more than nine percent of student enrollment in grades K-12 in the U.S. In addition to a language barrier at school, many students with limited English proficiency also face added difficulties, including poverty, families with low levels of education, and attending schools with a lack of resources. Yet, students with proficiency in English and a second language may reap cognitive, social, and emotional developmental benefits.
The NAS report, Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures, focused on Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and English Learners. DLLs are children age birth to 5 who are learning two languages at once – their home language and English – and are not in the K-12 system. ELs are youth in the pre-K-12 educational system who are learning English as a second language.
The NAS report findings included:
The NAS report outlines ten recommendations for government agencies that would help support academic success for children and youth learning English. These recommendations range from tasking agencies with using evidence-based strategies to teach DLLs and ELs to implementing social marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the ability to learn more than one language in early childhood.
Dr. MacSwan, who was one of 17 members of the NAS committee that prepared the report, is a faculty member in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. His research focuses on bilingualism, language minority education, and English Learners.
For more information on the College of Education, visit: www.education.umd.edu