Concluding Remarks

This report has reviewed research in a broad range of substantive areas, with a focus on how best to meet the academic and social needs of English-language learners: how students learn a second language; how multiple languages are used and organized by bilingual children; how reading and writing skills develop in the first and second language; how information in specific content areas, such as mathematics and history, is learned and stored; how social and motivational factors affect learning among language-minority groups; how relations between different racial or ethnic groups are structured and moderated in school settings; how parents and communities influence and support learning; how student English proficiency and knowledge of content areas can be appropriately assessed; how programs can be evaluated with regard to achieving their goals; and how school and classroom characteristics influence learning.

Knowledge useful to the successful education of English-language learners has accumulated differentially across these areas. Some topics, such as second-language acquisition and conversational patterns in bilingual settings, have been characterized by a cumulative progression of theories and data. The challenge in these areas, then, is to extend the research to new languages, to new aspects of language, and to new sub-populations of research subjects. Other topics, such as the learning of academic content areas, have seen important developments in the mainstream research literature, but these insights have not been extended to language-minority populations. Others, such as program evaluation and



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Concluding Remarks This report has reviewed research in a broad range of substantive areas, with a focus on how best to meet the academic and social needs of English-language learners: how students learn a second language; how multiple languages are used and organized by bilingual children; how reading and writing skills develop in the first and second language; how information in specific content areas, such as mathematics and history, is learned and stored; how social and motivational factors affect learning among language-minority groups; how relations between different racial or ethnic groups are structured and moderated in school settings; how parents and communities influence and support learning; how student English proficiency and knowledge of content areas can be appropriately assessed; how programs can be evaluated with regard to achieving their goals; and how school and classroom characteristics influence learning. Knowledge useful to the successful education of English-language learners has accumulated differentially across these areas. Some topics, such as second-language acquisition and conversational patterns in bilingual settings, have been characterized by a cumulative progression of theories and data. The challenge in these areas, then, is to extend the research to new languages, to new aspects of language, and to new sub-populations of research subjects. Other topics, such as the learning of academic content areas, have seen important developments in the mainstream research literature, but these insights have not been extended to language-minority populations. Others, such as program evaluation and

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effective schools, have seen significant activity, but a serious redirection of current efforts is warranted. Still others are plainly important, yet a major effort to address the fundamental issues for English-language learners has yet to be mounted; these topics include second-language literacy, intergroup relations, and the social context of learning. We envision a model of instruction that is grounded in basic knowledge about the linguistic, cognitive, and social development of language-minority children. This model would be rich enough to suggest different programs for different types of students. The formulation of such a model would take time, and the participation of researchers from very different backgrounds, working collaboratively with practicing educators, would be required. Yet this model could serve as the basis for designing programs that would result in better outcomes for students. As this summary report has shown, considerable knowledge has already accrued, and as the full report indicates, there are many ways of strengthening and building on this knowledge. Our vision can be realized only through a strategic combination of theory, research, program development, evaluation, and monitoring. We hope that the review presented here will be useful to all those interested in improving the education of language-minority children.