Globally, English language learners are the fastest- growing student population in schools. An NEA policy brief entitled “English Language Learners Face Unique Challenges” states that by 2015, ELL enrollment in US schools will reach 10 million, and by 2015 nearly one out of every four public school students will be an English language learner. The British Council in its report, “The English Effect”, estimates that English is spoken at a useful level by some 1.75 billion people worldwide and that by 2020, two billion people will be using it-or learning to use it.
Ministries of education, educators, and educational publishers are moving rapidly to adopt technology –based solutions to serve the needs of this growing segment of learners, as well as to provide teachers with the appropriate instructional tools and practices to help students achieve English language proficiency.
So what is the best way to address the needs of English language learners and teachers?
In order for technological solutions to be effective in enhancing learning, they need to be grounded in sound pedagogy. John Dewey, a towering educator from the 1950’s said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday we rob our children of tomorrow.” Dewey’s premise and theories about education although espoused half a century ago, still resonate for 21st century English language learners in digital learning environments today.
Dewey believed that students thrive in a child-centered environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with curriculum, be active learners, and have the opportunity to take part in their own learning. He also believed that the teacher has a central role as a facilitator and guide to support students in becoming independent learners.
Next week we will explore ways in which smart technology based on sound pedagogical principles can provide an effective solution for English language teachers and learners throughout the world.