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Have you met the tense Present Perfect? Do you know how and when to use it? If not, check out this article and quiz.

How Fast Can ELLs Learn Adequate English Proficiency?

High poverty districts in Seattle have recently been the center stage for a comprehensive study involving elementary school children learning English. The young English language learners (ELLs) were tested by researchers who wanted to know how long it took for them to achieve English language proficiency.

While the results have shown some similarities, there have also been many differences based on the children's first language and ethnicity, as well as seemingly less consequential factors, such as the percentages of ELLs in the school, or cases when the students entered the project with an already higher proficiency.

The Road Map Project

Experts from Regional Education Laboratories Northwest have launched the Road Map project to track more than 18,000 student ELLs from Washington state along their progress with attaining English language proficiency.

Aimed to help minorities and children coming from families with a lower income achieve better academic success, the project involved a study that tracked children who began kindergarten between 2001 and 2008, and entered one of the schools that are a part of the Road Map project before starting 5th grade.

A Comprehensive Study

Between 2005 and 2013, Washington schools experienced a significant growth in number when it came to students who pursued learning the English language, while almost ¼ of all the students were enrolled in Road Map schools. This percentage gave researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study the progress of children in those areas, and to compare their ability as ELLs, compared to their performance in other learning areas.

The results were somewhat surprising, in that it took, on average, 3.8 years for the students to attain English proficiency. Asian students clocked the best time at 3.4 years and kids speaking Arabic and Amharic as their first language also achieved good results, while Hispanic children needed as much as 4.2 years on average to achieve the same performance.

Most of the children who achieved reclassification fastest were girls (3.6 years), while boys only managed the same feat in 4 years. Children who studied in schools with a higher percentage of ELLs also showed better results.

On the other hand, students who are eligible for special education needed more than 5 years to achieve English language proficiency, while those in general education reached the same level in only 3.7 years.

Probably the most surprising result was that those who entered Road Map schools during 2nd through 5th grade with high English proficiency actually took longer to achieve reclassification than those with lower proficiency. However, the researchers concluded that the more skilled students received less assistance overall, compared to their peers.

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