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English Language Requirements in Immigration Reform

Posted on 02/21/2013

NCSDAE

The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education (NCSDAE External link opens in new window or tab) has released a new position paper addressing the current push for comprehensive nationwide immigration reform. A critical element that appears in almost every proposal for immigration reform is the requirement to learn English and civics, and to prepare for the citizenship examination. State Education Offices, funded through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), have the experience and expertise necessary to achieve the requirements of immigration reform legislation, according to the NCSDAE.

The NCSDAE is recommending expanded accessibility to current instructional and professional development programs with a federal investment over and above current levels. This will require a "major influx of funding" according to the NCSDAE. "Adult education programs across the country are generally at capacity, most with waiting list. At the present time we only can provide comprehensive intensive services to approximately two million individuals."

The need for expanding staffing levels is also addressed in the paper. "A new program should also allow for professional development for providers of ESL, civics, and citizenship instruction. We need to build capacity and ensure providers have sufficient staff members that are well trained in order to provide the best possible services to students."

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL External link opens in new window or tab) has also released a position paper External link opens in new window or tab on immigration reform. Like NCSDAE, TESOL calls for creating "opportunities for immigrants to learn English and civics by building and enhancing the capacity of current systems and programs."

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