U.S. Department of Education data show that English learners in grades K–12 in U.S. public schools in the 2015–16 school year numbered over five million students—about 10 percent of all enrolled students—and that roughly three-fourths of public school districts included students who are English learners. Many teachers, including those in small and rural districts, have one or more English learners in their classrooms—or soon will—and these teachers often use technology when instructing their English learners.
In other words, educators and technologists alike should be approaching EdTech with English learners’ unique needs in mind. To help them do that, the U.S. Department of Education has developed toolkits that clarify what you should know, what you should ask, and what you should consider doing when it comes to using or building EdTech to support English learners.
The toolkit for educators offers five guiding principles for educators to apply in exploring new ways of working with and supporting their English learners through technology, starting with recognizing their students’ unique needs and thinking through to the best technologies to help meet those needs.
The toolkit for EdTech developers provides guidance on the needs of English learners and their educators; supports to consider including with your product that may be especially useful for English learners; ways to communicate about products with districts and educators of English learners to facilitate adoption of your products; and the types of professional development and training activities that educators find most valuable.