Time to English Proficiency Among Young English Learners

June 01, 2007

Funding: Foundation for Child Development

Summary: Acquiring English proficiency early in school is a crucial step to high academic performance and, ultimately, to successful labor market outcomes and social integration. Yet there is substantial variation in the speed with which young children pick up their second language, and inconclusive evidence about the factors that influence these varying trajectories.  Aiming for a more complete understanding, this project investigates how long it takes students to become English proficient and how the time to proficiency varies according to students’ background characteristics (e.g. country of origin), the grade at which they enter school, and the type of English instruction they receive.  The study uses longitudinal panels of young English Language Learners in New York City public schools.