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Chapter 3 Bilingualism and education: Educating at-risk learners

Current Issues and Trends in Special Education: Research, Technology, and Teacher Preparation

ISBN: 978-1-84950-954-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-955-8

Publication date: 23 April 2010


The changing U.S. demographics, characterized by the rapid growth in immigration (Suarez-Orozco, 2003; U.S. Census Bureau, 2000), and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation are good reasons to prompt all educational stakeholders to seriously examine the practices of educating learners at risk of educational failure. Among at-risk learners, a significant portion is made up of English language learners (ELLs), especially those who are newcomers (i.e., ELLs who are fairly new to the school community in the United States with little or no English proficiency). The last census revealed that immigration accounts for more than “70% of the growth of the American population,” and that “the foreign born-population reached 30 million” (Portes & Hao, 2004, p. 1). Of this group, Hispanic students comprise the fastest growing group, and among Hispanics born outside the United States, 44.2% drop out from the educational system between the ages of 16 and 24 years (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). For this reason, discussions and debates on the best way to educate ELLs for effective English language acquisition leading to academic achievement in U.S. schools remain at the forefront of educational debates. At the core of this discussion, the question of whether or not to provide bilingual education services to learners for whom English is not their dominant or native language remains as one of the, if not the, greatest long-standing political, ideological, educational battles in the United States.


Ehlers-Zavala, F.P. (2010), "Chapter 3 Bilingualism and education: Educating at-risk learners", Obiakor, F.E., Bakken, J.P. and Rotatori, n.F. (Ed.) Current Issues and Trends in Special Education: Research, Technology, and Teacher Preparation (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 43-57.



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