The English Language Learner (ELL) population in the United States has grown significantly in the last several decades. While only 9 percent of students in 1979 reportedly spoke a non-English language at home, as of 2007, 20 percent of students claimed to speak a non-English language at home.
In speaking optimistically regarding the latest gains demonstrated by the nation’s ELL students, the Director of the Center on Education Policy, Mr. Jack Jennings, proclaims, “The report ought to offer some hope […] the accountability on school districts is resulting in more attention to these kids and them doing better on tests.”
States Leading the Linguistic Charge
Newcomers High School: A Shining ELL Example
While immigrant students across the country are showing academic strides, some schools are gaining significant recognition for their remarkable student success rates. As CNN reports, Newcomers Public High School, located in Long Island City in Queens, New York, is demonstrating their progress as “the miracle […] in the hallways.”
Newcomers High School devotes itself to teaching immigrant students who have lived in the United States for one year or less. As a result, half of the students arrive from Latin American countries, one quarter arrives from China, and the remaining student population has arrived from various other countries around the world.
At Newcomers High School, immigrant and ELL students who struggled to pronounce even basic English words in their Level 1 language classes have demonstrated miraculous progress over the span of several months. Oftentimes, students have shifted from minimal English skills to speaking conversationally over the course of one semester.
One student, for example, arrived to the United States from Mexico just three years prior to his anticipated high school graduation date. After graduating from Newcomers this June, the student will be attending the prestigious Lawrence University with a full scholarship.