[lg policy] Schools Are Ill-Prepared to Educate 'Superdiverse' English-Learners

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Feb 23 10:20:20 EST 2018


 Schools Are Ill-Prepared to Educate 'Superdiverse' English-Learners
By Corey Mitchell on February 22, 2018 2:40 PM

Public policy, research, and teaching methods have not adjusted to
accommodate the nation's increasingly diverse English-language-learner
population—and the problem begins well before children enter K-12
classrooms, a new report from the Migration Policy Institute finds.

While more education programs and systems now have practices in place to
support Spanish-speaking children, the "sheer diversity of languages spoken
by families with young children makes providing bilingual education to all
[dual-language learners] an unrealistic and unattainable goal."

The nation's dual-language-learner population has grown by about 24 percent
since 2000, and those students represent a wider range of languages and
cultures than in the past. The report authors refer to the demographic
shifts, fueled in part by immigration and refugee resettlements patterns,
as the "diversification of diversity" or "superdiversity."

[image: Capture MPI Report.PNG]

In addition to exploring the policy implications of the growing diversity,
the report examines the needs of three specific groups—Asian American and
Pacific Islander language-learners, black language-learners from African
and the Carribean, and young children of refugees—and analyzes the growth
of language diversity in states and counties across the United States.

The authors found that a failure to track state-level data on language
backgrounds, beginning in early-childhood education programs, has left
teachers, administrators, and lawmakers in a bind, trying to make policy
and program adjustments to serve these students without a full
understanding of their linguistic and cultural diversity.

"At a time when DLL children are speaking a far more diverse range of
languages, many communities across the United States are experiencing
classroom diversity with little to no guidance on effective practices for
promoting their cognitive and socioemotional development," the authors
write.

"As this diversity continues to grow and shift, [early childhood education
and care] systems and programs will need to build strategies to effectively
meet the learning needs of these children and support their parents in
doing the same."

To help address those concerns, the report makes the case for a more
diverse early-childhood workforce, improved tools to assess the development
of dual-language learners in early-childhood programs, and more research to
develop teaching approaches that can work in "superdiverse" classrooms
where students speak several languages.

The latest report builds upon a body of work the Migration Policy Institute
has produced that explores the early education of dual-language learners,
which the organization defines as children who are 8 or younger with at
least one parent who speaks a language other than English. In a report
released last fall, the organization found that many states fail to provide
access to high-quality early-childhood education
<http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2017/10/early_education_for_young_dual_language_learners_weak.html>
to these children.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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