According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 47 million people living in the United States spoke a language other than English at home in 2000, representing approximately 18% of the total U.S. population (NCES, 2004). It is expected that these demographics will continue to change, and minorities will become the majority by 2030 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Of special interest is the fact that the population of English language learners (ELLs), especially those who are learning English in K-12 school settings, will continue to grow (Chang, 2008). According to an "Issue Brief" by the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), about 20% of students were identified as an ELL in 2007, and a quarter of those students have difficulty with English (AYPF, 2009). A recent report from the Census Bureau (2009) suggests that one in every four children under the age of 5 in the United States is currently being raised in a home where a language other than English is being spoken. The major concern of educators who work with ELLs is that these children face many difficulties when entering the U.S. public education system. More specifically, these children tend to fall behind their mainstream counterparts in science, reading, and mathematics (NCES, 2003; U.S. Department of Education, 2001). A vast amount of research conducted in the area identifies several factors associated with ELL underachievement (Capps et al., 2006; Chang, 2008). For instance, sociolinguists have confirmed that ELLs experience difficulties learning a new language and a new set of cultural norms, resulting in poor academic performance (Teranishi, 2004). Mathematics is one of the critical areas in which ELLs have language-associated learning difficulties (Lee & Jung, 2004; Veel, 1999).
Early Childhood Education