According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, in 2020 the English learners (EL) student population had grown to an estimated 4.9 million children in U.S. public schools. By 2025, recent data shows that one out of four K-12 public school students across the nation will be an EL.

As we continue to see this number grow, so too does the need for the involvement of teachers, schools, and districts in order to help EL students achieve reading proficiency. In a recent article for Language Magazine, I outlined how this can be accomplished by expanding resources for children and their families, and by equipping educators with the skills and knowledge they need to teach children to read through professional development like Structured Literacy training. 

Just like non-EL students, EL students come into the classroom with varying reading proficiency levels and diverse backgrounds and abilities. Each has a different way in which they learn and a different home environment that could involve living with multiple generations of family that may or may not know English. These circumstances present unique challenges for educators in getting to know their students and in creating an effective instruction model that affords EL students the same opportunity as English native students in learning to read and to prosper in life. 

In my own teaching, my EL students benefit most when they are provided with explicit and systematic instruction. IMSE’s Structured Literacy programs have provided me with the tools to assess and instruct students in the specific literacy concepts they are lacking, and in a way that is both engaging and multi-sensory. I have seen improved long-term gains in my EL students’ ability to read and write across content areas since I’ve started implementing the Orton-Gillingham methodology across all five pillars of literacy.  

In addition, when I am able to make connections to students’ native language, they engage more meaningfully with the new English concept that I am introducing – and these connections facilitate long-term learning. 

Implementing Structured Literacy is one of the most effective ways to help students achieve reading success and to improve overall literacy rates amongst EL learners. For more insight on the importance of building connections between languages and teaching the elements of Structured Literacy, visit How Structured Literacy Can Improve Literacy Rates for ELs.  For information on how to deliver more effective literacy instruction and upcoming training, dive into IMSE’s resources here


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