Saturday 26 November 2022
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State Assembly Committee on Education Meets to Discuss English Language Learners

apple on books with pencils and empty blackboard - back to schoolThe State Assembly Committee on Education met on December 5 to discuss issues surrounding English Language Learner (ELL) students in New York State school districts. Much of the discussion was focused on creating new ways to assist these students, as well as examining the methods that are already in place.

Approximately nine percent of the 2.6 million students attending public schools in NY are ELL students. In addition, that nine percent encompasses students who speak over 200 different languages.

Learning a second language in early education may be a bit easier on students, but between ages eight and 12, children start to have more difficulty learning and producing new sounds than they did at a young age. This makes learning a new language much more challenging for older children.

Assembly member Anthony Brindisi explained that adjusting to the learning environment is difficult for many students, especially those who move back and forth between classrooms. “It’s a challenge getting used to acclimating yourself to the school district. For many of them, who have to travel to a separate building to go to BOCES to utilize BOCES services, that sometimes presents a challenge, it’s a strange building that they’re not used to.”

As a result of these challenges arising for students, education groups across NY are calling on lawmakers to implement new strategies to help them learn. Specifically, they are requesting that the state adopts a temporary, $200 million funding project to help schools with large numbers of ELL students.

Since 2014, ELL students have benefited from changes implemented by school districts to help them succeed, but educators still argue that more needs to be done to help these students.

Andrew Pallotta, executive director for the New York State United Teachers union, explained that the $200 million would allow school districts new opportunities and resources to help those ELL students struggling to learn the language. He added that sometimes, the needs of ELL students “go beyond learning the English language.”

Other recommendations put forth include an easing of dual-certification requirements for teachers and the implementing bilingual programs into pre-kindergarten education.