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July 31, 2013

Stanford researcher on learning English in today's multiethnic classrooms

claude-goldenburg.jpgQ&A with a Stanford University professor on the topic of teaching the growing number of non-native English speakers in the American public school system.

There are more than 5 million children in classrooms across America whose primary language is not English. That's 11 percent of the U.S. school-age population.

The figure is the highest it's ever been, and nearly every state is affected, says Professor Claude Goldenberg of Stanford's Graduate School of Education.

Yet there is surprisingly little research, Goldenberg says, on the best ways to teach these kids. And with new, more difficult standards being implemented at districts countrywide, he says it's more important than ever to find approaches to help these students succeed.

"The numbers are bigger, the issues are broader and mainstream education is finally coming to realize we have a population of kids for whom we don't have a very good set of tools to educate fully and adequately," Goldenberg said.

In a series of recent articles for American Educator, Goldenberg and several co-authors give an overview of existing research, explain the challenges facing teachers and students, address specific concerns related to early childhood education and issue guidelines for instruction.

The Stanford News Service caught up with Goldenberg to talk about the state of English language learning and why it's important to not let this population fail.

Read the full interview from Stanford News.

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