In the United States, English language learners
(ELLs) are the most rapidly expanding student population, doubling in
the past decade. In 2001-2002, one in ten K-12 students spoke a primary
language other than English, and the number of ELLs is expected to climb
to 40 percent of the total school population by 2050. While ELLs exhibit
a wide range of both English and subject matter proficiency, research
indicates that students with a primary language other than English are
twice as likely to read below grade level and to drop out of school. Certainly,
this is partially because many of these students live in poverty and have
parents with low levels of education. In addition, they often attend poorly
funded schools in urban or rural areas.
Widespread differences of opinion exist as to how we address the needs of ELLs. Some believe that linguistic diversity enriches us, yet others think nothing but English should be spoken in schools and government. Funding also comes into play. Bilingual education is more costly to implement than English-only programs, such as Structured English Immersion (SEI), so this undoubted influences program implementation. In reality, advocates seem to support varied program types and objectives with their research.
Reading Manipulatives products complement bilingual programs and can be core program components in SEI programs. The following are among the many reasons that manipulatives are effective for teaching literacy skills to ELLs.