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Aurora Institute

Next Generation Learning Models for English Language Learners

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Natalie Truong

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

iNACOL’s recent report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning, provides an in-depth analysis of how new models in learning can be leveraged in service of English language learner (ELL) students. The report explores the early stages of innovation in new school models serving ELL students and provides recommendations and lessons learned to build knowledge in the field of K-12 education. A key purpose of the research for the paper is to examine new pathways that offer students multiple opportunities to prepare them for future success and explore ways that educators are personalizing learning using advanced technologies to support and serve ELL students’ unique needs.

ELL students are a highly heterogeneous and complex group of students with diverse gifts, educational needs, backgrounds, languages and goals. This diversity is an asset. However, the current one-size-fits-all traditional education model is struggling to adapt. ELL students have long been provided with these one-size-fits-all educational programs and services, and the results show that old models have done little to close the achievement gap between ELL and non-ELL students. Almost 20% of ELL students do not graduate on time, and about 40% of ELL students are placed in remediation classes upon leaving the K-12 system.  

Across the U.S., schools and programs are building capacity and innovating by designing new instructional models to best meet the learning needs of ELL students. To accomplish this, there needs to be a shift away from a traditional, one-size-fits-all model of education based on seat time toward student-centered, next generation learning models in schools and programs that are focused on learning with personalized, competency-based models.

A key shift for schools to make is working together across the curriculum and with educators to maximize learning opportunities for ELL students. English language acquisition should be a coherent part of ELL students’ learning and integrated into academic content courses. This requires a much larger shift in thinking than simply teaching English vocabulary in a math or science course. Personalized, competency-based education is about teaching the whole child, from academic learning to culturally responsive teaching, to developing student skills and dispositions necessary for success in school, postsecondary education, the workplace and civic life.

Increasingly, educators and education programs are embracing a shift away from seat time toward a focus on student learning and the necessity to meet kids where they are with targeted supports. Schools and programs should be intentional about understanding the student population they serve, with particular focus on the diverse backgrounds, cultures, prior learning experiences and learning needs of ELL students. They must refine student success and personalize learning environments with and for ELL students. Next generation learning models start with the assumption that every student can learn at high levels and focus the delivery model centered on student learning goals and outcomes. For our ELL students, next generation learning models can empower and transform learning.

New Blog Series: Next Generation Learning Models for English Language Learners

This blog series will focus on next generation learning models with competency education can help all students reach high expectations and be prepared for college and career success in the future.

This is the first blog in a new blog series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. In the next blog post, we will examine how current models of learning for ELL students fall short in preparing these learners for success in K-12 education and beyond.