Rights and

Resources for 





As the number of English Language Learners (ELL) grows and language diversity increases, districts around the country have tried to implement effective academic approaches to meet the needs of students who lack the English language skills necessary to succeed in English-only classrooms.  This article will seek to help teachers to understand the rights of English Language Learners and their families. 

Lau vs. Nichols (1974)

In 1974 Chinese students sued the San Francisco Unified School District. They claimed they were denied meaningful education because they couldn’t understand the education they were receiving. They also claimed the school violated Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Court noted that several solutions were possible; Native-language instruction and ESL classes. This however, did not establish a constitutional right to bilingual education but it was a catalyst for public policy. New York City significantly expanded services to LEP students. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare promoted regulations regarding the identification and assessment of LEP students.


Plyler vs. Doe (1982)

This required free, equal, and unhindered access to appropriate schooling for all immigrant students. This prohibited many things including: inquiring about students’/parents’ immigration status for educational purposes, maintaining lists of students with/without alien registration numbers, reporting students to

the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services , requiring students to obtain a federal social security number.  


The Equal Educational Opportunities Act (1974)

This states that no state can deny equal educational opportunities to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.  LEP students must receive equal access to the curriculum. Equal access prohibits districts from placing LEP students in classrooms where they cannot understand the language being spoken.

Florida Consent Decree

The six settlement terms (outcomes) of the Florida Consent Decree are:

1. Identification and Assessment

 All LEP students must be appropriately identified to ensure the provision of appropriate services

2. Equal access to appropriate programming

 Each LEP student is entitled to equal access to programming which is appropriate to his or her level of English proficiency, academic achievement,and special needs.

3. Equal access to appropriate categorical and other programs for LEP students

LEP students are entitled to equal access to other appropriate programs as well as to dropout prevention and other supportive services, whether provided or funded under federal or state law or through local initiatives.

4. Personnel

All personnel must be trained to educated LEP students. Category I (Language Arts) educators  have to earn 15 semester hours.

Category II/III (teachers (math, science, social studies, and computer) educators have to earn 3 semester hours.

According to the Professional Development and Learning cite,

“ As of 2004, the district is also required to provide 60 hours of ESOL training to all school-based administrators and guidance counselors.  In 2005-06, Reading teachers of ELLs were added to the Category 1 list along with Language Arts teachers and were required to start the process toward ESOL Certification.  Category 2 or “basic” teachers (math, science, social studies, and computer teachers) must take one of the 60-hour courses to complete appropriate training that makes them eligible to teach ELLs; and an 18-hour ESOL training program was developed for Category 3 or “other” teachers.  Category 4 or principals, assistant principals, and guidance counselors are required to complete 60 hours of ESOL training(http://professionaldevelopment.brevard.k12.fl.us/ESOL-endorsement.htm)  .”

5. Monitoring Issues

Florida Department of Education shall regularly monitor local school districts to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Florida Consent Decree

6. Outcome Measures

Florida Department of Education will strive in the future to develop an evaluation system containing outcome measures for assessing the fulfillment of Federal and State law in regard to LEP students


Important Terms to Know  



 Stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

 International organization that wishes to advance professional expertise in English language teaching and learning for speakers of other languages worldwide



 Stands for Office of Multicultural Student Language Education

Assists school and districts with Florida’s ELLs

 Also responsible for ensuring that ELLs receive comprehensible instruction by monitoring schools and districts for compliance with rules and regulations



 Stands for National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition

 Authorized under Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

 Respond to Title III educational needs

 Implement NCLB as it applies to ELLs


For more detailed information click the following link.  http://professionaldevelopment.brevard.k12.fl.us/ESOL-endorsement.htm



1. Novodvorsky, I., & Weinstein, S.C. (2015). Middle and Secondary Classroom Management: Lessons from Research and Practice (5th Edition).  McGraw-Hill Education.


This book has a section titled Knowing Your Students and Their Special Needs. In this section of the book there is a section that discusses English Language Learners. It gives numerous practical tips for helping English language learners. This book is very useful for beginning teachers like me. It is very simple, straightforward, and practical for teachers to implement into their classrooms immediately.


2. Ferlazzo, L. & Sypnieski, K.H. (2012). The ESL / ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels. Josey-Bass Books.


This book is a wonderful resource for all teachers but especially ones with ELL students. It explains ways teachers can interact with ELL students but also how teachers can interact with their parents. In this book, there are tips about how teachers can create a positive learning environment that allow students to gain both English language skills and content area skills.


3. Peregoy, S.F. & Boyle, O.F. (2012). Reading, Writing, and Learning in ESL (6th Edition).


This book is a resource for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers. This book helps teachers to understand English language learners, it explores second-language-acquisition, and it discusses oracy and literacy for English learners. The most valuable thing in this book however is the practical strategies that it gives for developing those skills.


4. Echevarria, J.J., Short, D.J  & Vogt, M (2012). Making Content Comprehensible for Elementary English Learners: The SIOP Model. Pearson Education.


This book is an extremely resourceful book for teachers. This book discusses how teachers can make content comprehensible for ELL students. It gives practical strategies for teachers to implement the sheltered instruction model into the classroom. It provides lesson plans, teaching ideas, and many effective activities for working successfully with students who are English language learners or students that struggle with academic literacy.


5. Colombo, M. & Furbush. D. (2012).Teaching English Language Learners: Content and Language in Middle and Secondary Mainstream Classrooms. SAGE Publications.


This book provides practical ideas to implementing and assessing high-level, content-area instruction for English Language Learners. This book explains the cultural variables that impact teaching and learning, and it details planning strategies, units and lessons. It is very practical and it focuses on the content areas of middle and secondary math, English language arts, history, and science. This is especially helpful for me being a middle grades math teacher.


6. Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning: Teaching Second Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom.


This book is specifically for elementary teachers. It provides strategies for incorporating language acquisition skills through the instruction of core subject areas. It is very practical in nature and it also discusses the necessary skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It also provides projects and activities for students, particularly ELL students in science, mathematics, and social studies.



7. Rance-Roney, J. (2008) Creating Intentional Communities to Support English Language Learners in the Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.


This is an article that discusses the needs of ESOL students, the frustrations that teachers experience as a result of feeling unable to meet the needs of ESOL students and the fact that ESOL students should be viewed as a resource and not a liability. This article gives projects and assignments that can be given to ESOL students to promote ESOL students to interact.

Websites & Activities


8. Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire. North Carolina State University. Retrieved [July 1, 2015], from http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html


This resource is a questionnaire for students. It can also be used for ELL students. The importance of this resource is that it allows the teacher to figure out the different learning styles represented by the ELL students. This allows the teacher to be sure to use the different learning styles represented by the ELL students.


9. Activities for ESL Students. (2015). The Internet TESL Journal. Retrieved [July 2, 2015], from http://a4esl.org/


This website is a wonderful resource for teachers to have. It is very practical and straight forward. It has quizzes, tests, exercises and puzzles to help English language learner studnets learn English. The most useful resource from this website is that it offers all of these resources in multiple languages. The great thing also is that the materials have been given by thousands of teachers.


10. Buchanan, Matt. ChildDrama.com. Retrieved [July 1, 2015], from http://www.childdrama.com/


ChildDrama.com is a great resource for teachers who want to incorporate drama into the classroom. There is a wealth of resources for drama and classroom teachers to enhance student learning. There are many resources on this website including essays, lesson plans, projects, student monologues, and activities. This is particularly useful when working with ELL students because it can be used as a framework for reinforcing language skills.


11. Shulman, R. (2012). Supporting ESL Students: 10 Tips For Mainstream Teachers. Retreived [July 2, 2015], from http://www.weareteachers.com/community/blogs/weareteachersblog/blog-wat/2012/08/10/supporting-esl-students-10-tips-for-mainstream-teachers


As it says in the title, the website gives 10 tips for main stream teachers. These tips help teachers to creative a positive classroom environment. It gives them tips on how to appreciate culture and make use of it in the classroom. It gives tips on how to assess students informally. It encourages teachers to allow the native language use. It gives tips on the different kinds of manipulatives, visuals, games, music and hands-on activities that can be used in the classroom.


12. Graves, M.F., August, D., & Mancilla-Martinez, J. (2012). Teaching Vocabulary to English Language Learners. Teachers College Press.


Vocabulary is very important in all of the content areas. In math, we use a lot of vocabulary to understand mathematical concepts and procedures. This book provides ways for teachers to enhance the vocabulary of ELL students. It discusses the tools necessary for ELL students to be successful at learning the vocabulary that they need.