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A Look at English Learners in Louisiana

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Louisiana has seen the number of English language learners (ELL) climb from 2.2 percent in 2013-2014 to 3.3 percent in 2015, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The small ELL population in Louisiana struggles to graduate, while the total number of these learners in the state continues to grow. NPR shows Louisiana has one of the lowest graduation rates for ELLs.

The Louisiana Department of Education has a section on its website and library devoted to English Learners that provides guidance to educators working with this group.

How Louisiana Determines If a Student Needs ELL Services

The Education Commission of the States reports that Louisiana defines an ELL student “as a child who is working to learn a second language (English) while continuing to develop his or her first (or home) language.”

What programs do Louisiana public schools have for ELLs? It varies based on the parish where the student attends school. First, the school identifies the students who need an ELL program.

Louisiana uses the following criteria to identify students who qualify for its ELL program:

  • Is between 3 and 21 years old.
  • Has spent less than a year at an English-speaking elementary or secondary school.
  • Lists birthplace outside of the U.S. or native language is not English.
  • Identifies as a Native American, Alaska Native or native of outlying areas and comes from a place where a language other than English has affected the child’s proficiency in the English language.
  • Comes from a location that primarily speaks a language other than English.
  • Struggles to speak, read, write or understand English to the point that it may affect the child’s ability to:
    • Attain the minimum required score on state assessments.
    • Thrive in classes where teachers give directions in English.
    • Be a part of society.

English language learner programs in public schools aim to help students improve their ability to communicate in English. The Statistical Atlas shows the most common non-English languages spoken in Louisiana are French Creole, German, French, Arabic, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.

How to Become an ELL Teacher in Louisiana

In Louisiana, parishes set the requirements rather than the state. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association (TESOL), an organization devoted to advancing ELL teaching, says that most teaching jobs in U.S. public schools require a teaching license in the subject being taught. Typically, this requires a license issued in the state where the teacher works. Moreover, TESOL indicates a bachelor’s degree is required and some states now require a master’s degree for licensure.

Louisiana legislation and state board policy outline the requirements for becoming an ESL teacher. The two key requirements as covered in Section 667 of Bulletin 746: Louisiana Standards for State Certification of School Personnel are as follows:

  1. Possess a valid standard teaching certificate.
  2. Complete four courses for 12 hours of credit in the add-on ESL endorsement.

In Louisiana, there are three types of teaching authorizations and certifications. The correct one depends on the teacher’s status and experience. After obtaining the ESL certification, teachers need to maintain certification by following the guidelines for renewal based on their certificate type.

Grantmakers for Education research indicates that English language learners comprise the fastest-growing population in American public schools. By 2020, half the students in public schools will not be native English speakers. Therefore, the need for ELL teachers will continue to increase.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe’s online M.Ed. C&I concentration in ESL program.


Bulletin 746: Louisiana Standards for State Certification of School Personnel

Education Commission of the United States: English Language Learners – State Profile – Louisiana

Grantmakers for Education: Educating English Language Learners

Louisiana Department of Education: English Learners

NCES: Table 204.20. Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state: Selected years, 2003-04 through 2013-14

NCES: English Language Learners in Public Schools

NPR: English Language Learners: How Your State Is Doing

Statistical Atlas: Languages in Louisiana

Teach Louisiana: English as a Second Language Checklist

Teach Louisiana: Types of Teaching Authorizations and Certifications

TESOL: Teaching Opportunities in the United States

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