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English language Learners Understand Content But Can't Explain In English

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Public schools in D.C. may soon adopt standards that 21 other states use when teaching students who don't speak English fluently.

Nearly 6,000 children in D.C.'s schools are classified as English Language Learners. Some of their teachers instruct by simplifying the language, others use pictures or act out lessons.

Bonnie Moisan at Stoddart Elementary School says students often understand the subject matter even though they can't explain it in English.

"If you think about this, the student is a fourth grader in his or her country. So we keep them on the same content level; as far as content they're good," says Moisan. "We just have to get them to learn the language piece."

The D.C. Board of Education is expected to approve the standards which provide teachers a road map of what students are expected to know based on how well they speak English.


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