In the context of recent debates for and against the reality of ~long-term English learners (LTELs)' in US secondary schools, the diversity of these students' classroom experiences and opportunities to develop academically valued forms of English is often overlooked. This analysis draws upon a data from middle school classrooms in the South Atlantic region of the USA and focuses particularly on the classroom experiences of six 6th-grade students classified as ~English learners' who have been in US schools since kindergarten. We use a multiple case study approach (Stake 2006) to analyze qualitative classroom observations completed in ~mainstream' classrooms alongside teacher and student interviews to examine the extent to which classroom-based peer and teacher-student interactions offer opportunities for language acquisition/development. Varied patterns of engagement and interaction were found, but most students had relatively few substantive academic discussions with peers or teachers. The diversity of our six students' experiences, and of the language expertise they demonstrate, suggests that ~LTEL' obscures more than it elucidates regarding these students' academic and linguistic strengths and needs.
Long-term English Learners