ERIC Number: ED443275
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Jan
How Long Does It Take English Learners To Attain Proficiency?
Hakuta, Kenji; Butler, Yuko Goto; Witt, Daria
This document discusses research findings related to the question of how long language minority students need special services such as English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) courses or bilingual education before they develop oral and academic English proficiency. It draws conclusions based on a study of four different school districts, two in California and two in Canada. Academic English proficiency refers to the ability to use English in academic contexts, which is particularly important for long-term success in school. The data were used to analyze various forms of English proficiency as a function of length of exposure to English. The clear conclusion emerging from the data is that even in the two California districts that are considered the most successful in teaching English to limited-English-proficient (LEP) students, oral proficiency takes 3 to 5 years to develop and academic English proficiency can take 4 to 7 years. Results in Canada were similar. Only one of these three districts offered bilingual education, something that critics often charge delays English acquisition. Analysis also revealed a widening academic performance gap between LEP students and native English speakers. It simply may not be possible to offer adequate language instruction to limited English students within the time allotted during the normal school day, and after school or summer instruction may be needed. Results suggest that policies that assume rapid acquisition of English and call for sheltered English programs lasting no more than 1 year, such as Proposition 227 in California, are wildly unrealistic. (Contains 24 references and 15 figures.) (KFT)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Bilingual Education, Bilingual Education Programs, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, English (Second Language), Foreign Countries, Language Minorities, Language Proficiency, Limited English Speaking, Oral Language, Politics of Education, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Spanish Speaking
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Santa Barbara. Linguistic Minority Research Inst.
Identifiers - Location: California; Canada
IES Cited: ED545226; ED558159; ED560752; ED565624; ED508343; ED529762; ED529763; ED546480