Does the ‘English Language Learner’ Label Help or Hurt Students?

Would a student who speaks English but whose parents speak Spanish be better or worse off being labeled an English language learner?

It’s a dilemma the Fronteras Desk, a new multimedia collaborative from seven public radio stations in the Southwest, portrays in an article and video about such students.

The article points out that the schools say students from homes where parents speak Spanish have limited English vocabulary and need the extra help. But parents worry that their children will be labeled and segregated from their peers. In addition, parents fear their kids will miss out on other opportunities, such as gifted programs.

It’s a story worth exploring. And it might extend beyond California. What is your school district’s policy about defining qualifications for English-language learning classes? Does the label segregate students unfairly?

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