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At a Glance: Signs of Learning and Attention Issues in English Language Learners

By Shea Dean

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You know your English language learner (ELL) better than anyone else does. Have you noticed him struggling with school and language? Learn what some of those signs might mean—and why it’s important to tell the teacher.

12Found this helpful
At a Glance: Signs of Learning and Attention Issues in English Language Learners

English Language Learners (ELLs) have unique challenges. If they’re having trouble in school, it can be hard to tell if it’s because of a language barrier or something else. Here are some signs to watch out for.

Your child had trouble learning to speak his native language.
Why this matters: Kids start speaking at different ages. Significant language delays, however, could be a sign of learning issues.

Your child has trouble reading or writing in his native language as well as English.
Why this matters: If a problem shows up in English and in your child’s native language, this could mean that learning issues are involved. If his teachers don’t speak your native language, it’s especially important to mention your concerns.

Your child isn’t making progress in school.
Why this matters: If your child is lagging behind students from similar backgrounds, he might need extra support in school. You can talk to your child’s teacher about informal supports or having your child evaluated.

Your child has trouble sitting still, listening, finishing tasks or staying organized.
Why this matters: These could be signs of attention issues or trouble with executive functioning. Like kids who struggle with learning, kids with these issues might need special help. Talk to your child’s teacher to avoid a situation in which she thinks your child is just misbehaving.
Graphic of At a Glance: Signs of Learning and Attention Issues in English Language Learners
Graphic of At a Glance: Signs of Learning and Attention Issues in English Language Learners

What’s Next

Understanding the signs of learning and attention issues in ELLs is a good first step to finding out if your child needs extra support at school. It’s also important that the school have information about your child.

About the Author

Portrait of Shea Dean

Shea Dean

Shea Dean, M.A., is a writer and editor who teaches English as a second language (ESL) at New York University.

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Reviewed by Virginia Gryta, M.S. Jun 05, 2014 Jun 05, 2014

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