Identifying with ESL or ELL: Knowing the Difference

Telling the difference between ESL and ELL could be difficult for some people. ESL was most commonly used in the past (especially when I was growing up), and ELL has become the term to use in recent times. ESL is the acronym for English as a Second Language. This was what I commonly knew as I was placed in ESL classes during my first three years of elementary school. ESL is well known to be an phenomenon in which students had to be pulled out of their classes in order to take other classes that focused on just the development of the English language.

English Language Learning focuses on a student’s full integration into English and American class culture. Instead of being pulled out of class to learn English, English is concurrently taught at the same time as other courses and materials. Instated after Bush’s administration’s No Child Left Behind, students have been able to improve their English while also staying on track in other classes. While some administrators have seen the positive in this, many others have critiqued it. The question on whether students are fully prepared or not is commonly brought up.

With such different terms meaning similar things, it is easy for people to get confused or use them interchangeably. Some students might be the products of ESL classes while others might have had to deal with the new term and curriculum. Others might have identified with it at one point in their education but might not relate as older students. Regardless of whether a student wants to identify with it or not, it is important to be knowledgeable.

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