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English Language Learners

By 2025, 1 out of 4 children in classrooms across the nation will be an English language learner (ELL) student. Here are some resources to help educators connect with, mentor, and inspire these students.
Published: July 2020

NEA believes all students deserve the tools and support to flourish. We advocate for our students by pushing for programs that address their unique needs, and we want educators to have every resource they need to connect with ELL students. ELL students are the fastest growing group of students in grades K-12. As their numbers increase, this responsibility is more important than ever. 

  • NEA was ahead of the curve in 1966 when we held a conference on bilingual education.  We said loud and clear back then that non-English speaking students were not deficient. The deficiency was in the materials, techniques, and the schools. Our advocacy led directly to the 1968 passage of the Bilingual Education Act, the first step in the attempt to address the needs of ELL students in a systematic way. 

  • Today, bilingual education  is part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which focuses more strongly on closing the achievement gap between English learners and other students. 

  • NEA continues to champion ELL students in the community and the classroom and to advocate for the opportunities they deserve. As our 2015 report on English Language Learners declared, “These are America’s students, and the nation can’t afford to let them down.”

Here are some resources to help educators connect with, mentor, and inspire every child. 

  • “All In! How Educators Can Advocate for English Language Learners” (see downloads): A guide for championing the opportunities ELL students deserve. This report also includes summaries of key court cases affecting bilingual education, suggestions for additional reading, and a comprehensive list of English Language Learner-based organizations. 

  • Meeting the Unique Needs of Long Term English Language Learners”: A research-based overview that provides recommendations for teaching and supporting long-term ELL students. 

  • Check out the English Language Learners page on the NEA EdJustice site.

For more information about working with ELL students, contact Luis-Gustavo Martinez at [email protected], or (202) 822-7396 regarding professional development opportunities, including ELL online modules.

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