The Facts About...English Fluency
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Challenge: Reading, writing, and speaking English well are all critical skills for living the American dream. Nineteen states have reported an increase of more than 50 percent in English language learners over the last three years—and that growth is expected to continue. America's schools need help.

Solution: Provide states with new tools to increase oral and written language proficiency in English: higher academic standards, and highly qualified teachers. President Bush has requested research to identify and implement in the classroom the best ways for students whose first language is not English to learn to speak, read, and write English in a fluent manner.


Speaking and reading English well is essential for success in America.

  • Under No Child Left Behind, the academic progress of every child will be tested in reading and math, including those learning English. All English language learners will be tested annually to measure how well they are learning English, so their parents will know how they are progressing. States and schools will be held accountable for results.
  • Research shows that students who can't read or write in English have a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, and they often face a lifetime of diminished opportunity.

No Child Left Behind gives states the freedom to find the best methods of instruction.

  • The new law does not dictate a particular method of instruction for learning English and other academic content.
  • States and local education agencies must establish English proficiency standards and provide quality language instruction, based on scientific research for English acquisition, in addition to quality academic instruction in reading and math.
  • States and local education agencies must place highly qualified teachers in classrooms where English language learners are taught.
  • Children who are becoming fluent in English are also learning in academic content areas such as reading and math, and they will be tested in these areas so they are not left behind.

No Child Left Behind encourages all schools to use scientifically based instruction methods. For this reason, President Bush has called for new research to study the best ways to teach young boys and girls to become fluent in English. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Department of Education's Office of Evaluation, Research and Improvement, Office of English Language Acquisition, and Office of Special Education are sponsoring research into:

  • The most effective ways to spur English language learning for Spanish-speaking children;
  • The most effective methods for teaching children who may use a non-Roman alphabet (such as Korean, Chinese, Navajo and Russian) and how to transfer their skills to learning English;
  • And methods for teaching all young learners.

The President's budget provides $665 million in 2004 to help English language learners acquire English language skills. This is a 49 percent increase over 2001 and includes $68 million set aside to prepare teachers of English language learners.

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Last Modified: 09/02/2003