The Relationship Between Classroom Instructional Language and Academic Achievement Among English Language Learner Students
Rodriguez, Kristina Leticia
Thomas, Adam T
Nearly one-third of children living in the United States are English language learners (ELLs). These children’s academic achievement lags behind the achievement of their English-proficient peers. As more ELL students enter the public school system, educators require guidance regarding the best practices for closing this gap. A particularly important consideration in this regard relates to the question of whether students’ native languages are used in the classroom, or whether students are instead exposed to English-only instruction. This paper explores the relationship between instructional language and academic achievement among ELL students. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study 2011, I find that there is a small, negative, and statistically significant relationship between non-English use in the classroom and reading test scores. I find no relationship between non-English use in the classroom and math test scores.
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