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The Cognitive Effects of Poverty & ELLs

Homepage Forums Brain-Based Learning Q&A The Cognitive Effects of Poverty & ELLs

  • This topic has 2 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 5 years, 9 months ago by Alicia Alvarez-Calderón.
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    • #40914
      Lezley Lewis

      The work of Virginia Collier and David Thomas at George Mason University sheds light on the cognitive effects of poverty and English Language Learners (ELLs). In their work, Educating English Learners for a Transformed World (Collier & Thomas, 2009), the impact of poverty in ELL language programs is addressed. The spectrum of language programs range from minimal, native language support while acquiring English (subtractive bilingualism) to continued native language acquisition while acquiring English (additive bilingualism). In school districts where ineffective and weak language programs exist (subtractive), there was a substantial negative effect of poverty (approximately 18%) on ELL achievement.

      In well-implemented, effective language programs, the negative effect of poverty was greatly reduced to less than 5%. Collier and Thomas concluded that strong, effective (additive bilingual) language programs (such as dual language) can overcome or reverse much of the negative effect of poverty on student achievement.

    • #40979
      Dr. Margo Turner

      Thanks Lesley for this information and resource. Our district has intentional support of ELLs which is a great resource for the preservice teachers I work with at JBU. One particular student who is pursuing secondary English licensure with TESOL endorsement has become very passionate about the high schoolers who have immigrated into the US recently and who have had little formal schooling and have no English language. During her internship in the local high school she has learned first hand how to best support these students. We are finding that our teacher candidates are more prepared for their first classroom of students because of the opportunities of the clinical model of teacher preparation where they learn alongside real teachers and real students. This particular intern felt she could identify with this unique group of ELL’s as she was a learner just like them! I look forward in passing this resource along to her! Dr. Margo Turner

    • #63323
      Alicia Alvarez-Calderón

      The population of ELLs in the United States is rapidly increasing. This is a concern for those of us who are in the field because most of them (roughly 85%) live in poverty. Effective and additive bilingual programs, like two-way and one-way dual language programs, are opening the doors for our students. Bilingual education is more than just maintaining your language and learning a second one, it is about identity, therefore building self-esteem in students. If an ELL succeeds in our educational system, they will not only graduate from high school but will also continue into higher education. They are successful in the academic world, they have hope, and this is one of the most important things for our students in poverty.

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