Immigration History in the ELL Classroom

English Language Learners (ELLs) range from those who are newly arrived in the country to those who have lived in the United States a while. Some students learning English may even have been born in the Unites States. They would still be considered ELLs if they have been primarily exposed to only their family’s home (non-English) language.

Newly arrived students will likely be experiencing culture shock, the stresses of which can have a negative impact on their school performance. Culture shock has many stages and will look different for each individual. It typically lasts for 2 to 5 years, and can last much longer for those who have suffered through the horrific experience of war and refugee camps (Helmer and Eddy 2003). New immigrants need time to adjust before settling into the routines of school comfortably.

Those who are not new to the Unites States may have acquired some English already. They may have gaps in their language skills that keep them from being fully successful in school. Even an ELL who is nearly fluent in conversational English will need support in learning the specialized language used in school (McIntyre et al. 2009).

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Teaching English Language Learners

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