Teaching Content to English Learners in the Era of the Common Core Standards

What are instructional implications for College and Career Ready Standards, such as the Common Core, on English learners (ELs) and their teachers? This question is addressed in an essay by researchers from ETS. R&D Connections, a publication series from ETS Research & Development, examines research conducted by ETS scientists and is written in nontechnical language. This issue highlights research on ELs and what content-area teachers need to know and be able to do in order to meet the needs of their EL students in achieving the new standards.

Content Comments 

This article is strongly based on current research on ELs and provides the reader with background information on challenges that face teachers of EL students in helping their students achieve the new, more rigorous standards. An important issue raised in the article is that teachers—especially secondary, content-area teachers—need to understand and recognize the central role that language plays in understanding the content. To help EL students achieve the new standards, teachers need to develop their understanding of the role that language has in content-area learning. The article provides good definitions of terms (e.g., disciplinary knowledge) and includes a few examples of content-area language demands. While there are no tools or particular instructional guidance found in this article, this essay will help with awareness of the language issues that are apparent in content-area instruction. This resource is useful for teachers and instructional leaders in states, districts, and schools.