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English as a Second Language

  • By: Rebecca M. Callahan & Chandra Muller
  • In: Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: James Ainsworth
  • Subject:Sociology of Education (general), Sociology of Education, Education Policy

English as a second language (ESL) instruction addresses the English language learning needs of non-native English speaking populations within English-dominant societies. Second language learning pertains to a minority language speaker learning the dominant language of the society of interest (e.g., learning Spanish in Mexico or English in the United States). ESL targets a specific subgroup of the language minority (non-native English speaking) population in the United States, those in the process of learning English. ESL services in schools grew in response to a Supreme Court decision that mandated language services to provide language minority students equality of educational opportunity. The services in schools have expanded in the United States, largely to address the needs of the growing immigrant, language minority population. Sociologists have questioned whether ...

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