English Learners in American Classrooms:
101 Questions, 101 Answers
By James Crawford and Stephen Krashen
DiversityLearningK12, 2015; 128pp
Consider any question you may have about working with English language learners (ELLs), and it's quite likely you will find the answer in this indispensable book. Authors James Crawford and Stephen Krashen use a straightforward Q&A format to address educators' concerns in a concise and accessible way-everything from "What types of instructional programs are designed to address the needs of ELLs?" to "Do ELLs need to be taught phonics?" The book provides a state-of-the-art guide to the field, written to focus sharply on the major issues facing English language learners and the educators who work with them.
On the opening page, Crawford and Krashen state the essential aim of their book: "It's no secret that immigrants are transforming American classrooms. Or that increasing numbers of our students are ELLs ... a trend that poses unique challenges and opportunities for schools. How should educators respond?"
Read to suit your own needs-straight through from first question to last, or selectively to glean expert advice on issues of special interest. Either way, you'll close this book better equipped to make a difference for the ELLs in your classroom, school, and community.
Table of Contents
1. Who are English language learners?
2. How is limited English proficiency defined?
3. What are the dimensions of the ELL population?
4. What challenges do increasing numbers of ELLs pose for the public schools?
5. What are the worst mistakes schools make in serving ELL students?
6. What types of instructional programs are designed to address the needs of ELLs?
7. What are the educational philosophies behind these different models?
8. Why does the conversational-academic language distinction matter?
9. How does native-language teaching help ELLs acquire English?
10. Doesn’t total immersion – being forced to “sink or swim” in a new language – make common sense, too?
11. But doesn’t it help ELLs to practice speaking English as much as possible?
12. How does literacy development in the native language promote literacy development in English?
13. Transfer sounds fine in theory, but does it really happen in the classroom?
14. Do ELLs need to be taught English phonics?
15. How can phonics be counterproductive for ELLs?
16. Are children in bilingual programs forbidden to read in English until they master reading in the native language?
17. What is second-language instructional competence?
18. What are the components of a well designed bilingual program?
19. How does ESL fit in?
20. What is sheltered subject-matter teaching?
21. Does sheltered subject-matter teaching work?
22. Don’t bilingual programs teach mostly in the native language?
23. Why wait? Why not teach all subjects in English from the very first day?
24. Is bilingual education a better alternative?
25. Are all bilingual program models equally effective?
26. Are “dual language” programs the most effective?
27. Don’t some studies show that immersion is better than bilingual education?
28. What are the social implications of bilingualism for ELL students?
29. What are the cognitive costs and benefits of bilingualism?
30. What are the practical advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism?
31. How do former ELLs perform academically after “graduating” from bilingual programs?
32. How long does it take to acquire a second language?
33. Who are long-term ELLs and why are they performing poorly in English?
34. Isn’t it important to teach English early, since young children are best at language acquisition?
35. Do some children fail to develop proficiency in any language?
36. What impact does social class have on language acquisition?
37. Why do some ELLs do well in school without bilingual education?
38. Why is access to print so important?
39. How effective is bilingual education in helping children acquire or maintain their heritage language?
40. What are the causes of language loss for children and communities?
41. What is ethnic ambivalence?
42. What is language shyness?
CRITICISMS OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION
43. What are the criticisms of bilingual education that led to the passage of English-only initiatives in California (1998), Arizona (2000), and Massachusetts (2002)?
44. ELLs score much lower on standardized tests than other students. Doesn’t this show that bilingual education has failed?
45. Shouldn’t parents have the right to choose whether their children are placed in bilingual education?
46. What types of programs do the parents of ELLs favor for their children?
47. Does bilingual education lead to segregation by race or ethnicity?
48. Do children “languish” in non-English classrooms for many years, never learning enough English to transfer to mainstream classrooms?
49. Is there a tendency for schools to delay redesignating ELLs as English-proficient in states where per capita subsidies are provided to serve these children?
50. What are the cost differences among various options for educating ELLs?
51. How can schools teach bilingually when ELL students speak several different languages?
52. Doesn’t the shortage of qualified teachers make bilingual education impractical?
53. If bilingual education works, why is the Hispanic dropout rate so high?
54. Then why do Hispanic students drop out of school at higher rates?
55. If bilingual education is such a good idea, why don’t other countries provide it?
56. Are bilingual educators promoting a hidden agenda of ethnic separatism?
57. What has been the impact of English-only instruction laws?
58. But didn’t ELLs’ test scores go up in California after bilingual education was eliminated?
59. What about the Oceanside (CA) school district, whose all-English programs have received so much favorable attention?
60. How can bilingual education be improved?
61. What is constructivism and why is it beneficial for ELLs?
62. Why did the “English for the Children” initiatives pass?
63. What approach for educating ELLs is favored by the American public?
64. What role does ethnocentrism play in public attitudes about bilingual education?
65. Why is the public so misinformed about bilingual programs?
66. Does the federal government mandate bilingual education?
67. Do states require schools to provide any particular instructional program for ELLs?
68. What are schools’ legal obligations in serving ELLs?
69. In practice, what must school districts do to meet their obligations?
70. Are schools responsible for educating undocumented immigrants?
ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
71. Has the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) proved to be an effective way to “hold schools accountable” in meeting these obligations?
72. Why not depend on “accommodations” to help ELLs cope with English-language assessments?
73. Even if English-language achievement tests are inadequate for ELLs, what’s the harm in using them?
74. Are you saying we should scrap testing altogether?
75. If not for high stakes purposes, how should tests for ELLs be used?
76. How should schools be “held accountable” in serving ELLs?
POLITICS OF LANGUAGE
77. What makes bilingual education so politically controversial?
78. Why do some Americans find language diversity threatening?
79. English is the official language in many countries. Why should this idea be controversial in the United States?
80. Isn’t bilingualism a threat to national unity, dividing people along language lines?
81. Why has language been a source of tension in Canada?
82. When has the official language issue come up previously in U.S. history?
83. If the United States never declared an official language in the past, didn’t this reflect the fact that – until recently – most Americans spoke English and nobody demanded government services in other languages?
84. What did our nation’s founders think about the role of English?
85. As a practical matter, wasn’t English always the language of government in America?
86. But isn’t it true that large-scale language assistance programs such as bilingual education appeared only in the 1960s?
87. Weren’t earlier immigrants more eager to join the Melting Pot and assimilate, as compared with those arriving in recent years from Asia and Latin America?
88. Are you saying that policies to restrict languages other than English are inspired by xenophobia?
88. Did European immigrant groups ever face this kind of cultural repression?
90. Why does a large percentage of the public favor making English the official language, according to opinion polls?
91. Immigrant languages are spreading so rapidly these days. Doesn’t this trend threaten the status of English as our common language?
92. How does this pattern compare with rates of English acquisition in the past?
93. Would it speed up English acquisition if government eliminated bilingual assistance programs?
94. Isn’t it important to send a message to immigrants that they are expected to learn our language?
95. How do programs in other languages promote English and acculturation?
96. Does this mean the United States should move toward official bilingualism, as in Canada?
97. Backers of official English have disclaimed the “English-only” label. Aren’t they advocating something less extreme than that?
98. How does official-English legislation violate the constitution?
99. What is the legal impact of adopting English as the official language?
100. Still, isn’t there something to be said for the idea of uniting Americans through a common language?
101. With all the ferment over language today, doesn’t government need to establish a comprehensive policy?