What a Case Study Reveals: Facing the New Challenge and Learning the Basics in Second Language Acquisition

Nan Li; Mitchell, Yvonne; Howard, Courtney
January 2011
National Teacher Education Journal;Winter2011, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p25
Academic Journal
Case Study
The fastest growing segment of the school population in the United States is currently the English Language Learners (ELLs). From 1995 to 2005, the general school population growth in the United States was only 12 percent, but the population growth among the ELLs was 105 percent (NCES, 2009). Other data reveals that 5.1 million or 10.5 percent of the U.S. school population are the ELL students (NCLRC, 2008). Although most ELLs are coming from non-European countries, the teachers in the United States are mainly from Caucasian backgrounds. This creates a mismatch between the backgrounds of the students and that of the teachers. As the ELL school population is growing in size and variety, both the teachers and the students are confronted with the new challenge of providing quality teaching and learning and engaging these students to fully participate in academics so that they can graduate and become productive members of society. In order to meet their learning needs, it is important that teachers acquire the basics in applying second language acquisition theories to be able to understand this learning process and seek improved teaching practices. This case-study provided an epitome of the learning experiences of the ELL students who were experiencing the transition from a non-English to an English-only school environment. When analyzing the case scenario, we combine the discussion with L2 acquisition theories and provide suggestions for teachers.


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