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English as a Second Language

OPB | Jan. 18, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:12 p.m.

It’s always a challenge — and it can be a nightmare — to learn a new language. Just how challenging is based on a variety of factors, including the age you start your lessons, and the opportunities you have to speak the new language with others.

A recent report now shows that five years is not enough time for the majority of students learning English as a second langage in Oregon’s public schools to become proficient. This isn’t just a disappointing statistic: a federal mandate currently requires that at least half of the students learning English in each school be able to handle the language well enough to take history, science and other classes with the mainstream student population. Next year, the expectation increases to 70 percent of ELL students.

While federal mandates don’t dictate expectations for adults learning English, many recent immigrants struggle to master the new language while juggling family responsibilities and employment opportunities.

One ELL coordinator in the eastern Oregon district of Stanfield says parents’ language skills can make a big difference in their children’s learning. This is why she teaches a free evening class for parents learning English.

There are many different teaching methods for adults and kids learning English, and some disagreement about what is most effective.

Did you learn English as an adult or a young student? What worked best for you? What was most challenging?

Do you teach English as a second language? What are the most effective methods?

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