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English Learners: Transition to Higher Education

English learners (ELs), also known as English language learners or emergent bilinguals, are students who have a first language other than English and are in the process of acquiring English proficiency. As the EL population has steadily increased in the United States, so also has concern about whether postsecondary education is accessible to ELs. Focusing on the United States, this entry describes the EL population, reviews information on ELs’ postsecondary educational outcomes, and provides an overview of some of the barriers this population faces when it comes to accessing higher education. The entry concludes by offering promising strategies for expanding educational access and opportunity for ELs in higher education settings.

Who Are ELs?

As of fall 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated there were 4.9 ...

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