English Language Learner

EnglishLanguage Learner

EnglishLanguage Learner

Proficiencyin the English language among non English speaking children is animportant aspect of the American education systems. Educationistshave developed several strategies that are aimed at facilitatingrapid English learning among students. One of these strategies isStructured English Immersion. This paper looks at the historical andlegal foundations of the Structured English Immersion. It alsobriefly outlines some of the most important impacts on the educationsystems and the society.

StructuredEnglish Immersion as an English teaching technique for Englishlanguage learners was proposed by Keith Baker and his colleague inthe early 1980s. It was proposed in the Canadian education systemthrough the French immersion system. However, the Canadian model ofStructured English Immersion was different from the American systemsince it was based on bilingual education system. The model wasintroduced in the American system to promote English proficiencyamong non English speaking minorities especially from the east. Themodern Structured English Immersion model involves sequential andstructured English lessons. The Structured English Immersionstructured for the non English speakers is incorporated into themainstream curriculum (Johanna, 2006).

Therehave been controversies on the impacts of the Structured EnglishImmersion on the students and the education system. This is mainlybecause of the relationship and impacts of the model on equality ineducation as provided for in the ‘Equal Education OpportunitiesAct’. The most famous legal proceeding related to StructuredEnglish Immersion was the Horne v. Flores case in the US SupremeCourt (Johanna, 2006). In the case, English language learners led byMiriam Flores sued the state board of education and superintendent ofpublic institution in Arizona. The case was a result of the failureof a district school to teach English to English language learners.By the year 2000, several states in Arizona had ruled that the statewas violating the ‘Equal Education Opportunity Act’ by notensuring that ELL were taught English despite the funds beingallocated to school with special need learners. Although the USSupreme Court argued that there are there is evidence indicating thatStructured English Immersion positively impacts on English learningamong learners, it overturned the decisions by the district courts. In the infamous 2009 ruling, the Supreme Court argued that the stateboard of education in Arizona had no case to answer. It also statedthat the state has the authority to determine the educationalrequirements for English learners within the state. The ruling wasbased on the argument that education programs should be based onoutcomes and benefit to the student rather that spending theallocated resources (Johanna, 2006).

StructuredEnglish Immersion had had numerous impacts on the education system.Due to the better planned and structured learning activities,Structured English Immersion is very essential in building thestudents’ vocabulary. The intensive and direct instructions havealso proved to be essential in faster learning of the Englishlanguage. However, Structured English Immersion has also beencriticized for being blind to the learner’s culture and linguisticbackground due to it focuses on direct contact of the learner withthe English language. The model creates a homogenous society whichwipes away the cultural heritage of the learners. While majority ofparents of ELL in local schools are likely to support the model toenable them adjust to the American way of life, conservative parentsmay have issues with the learning model (Tollefson, 2012).

Inconclusion, there are evidences that Structured English Immersion canfacilitate faster learning of the English language. However, therehave been controversies on whether it is an important aspect of the‘Equal Education Opportunities Act’ or an optional model. Inaddition to the legal issues that have characterized the model, thereare cultural issues that have been raised against the educationmodel.


Johanna,J. H. (2006). Structured English immersion: a step-by-step guidefor K-6 teachers and administrators, Thousand Oaks, Calif.:Corwin Press.

Tollefson,J. W. (2012). Language Policies in Education: Critical Issues,ISBN 0415894581, Routledge