Nevada Governor Sandoval (R) signed SB 504 into law today, giving Nevada its first funded ELL program. There has long been a debate about how to best teach English language learners. Some suggest full immersion into English is the best way. Those same people will complain about ELL programs, calling them a waste of money. The facts just don’t back up those arguments.
“Rapid, unsupported English language acquisition is not a realistic goal,” say experts from the American Institutes for Research. “Rather, students who have received little to no academic or cognitive development in their first language tend to do increasingly poorly as academic and cognitive demands increase after fourth grade and into the upper grades. Oral proficiency can take 3 to 5 years to develop, and academic English proficiency may take 4 to 7 years. Consequently, a curriculum that supports ELL students’ academic and linguistic needs in both languages over a sustained period of time represents a more reasonable approach to closing the achievement gap between ELL students and native English speakers.”