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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on English-Only Instructional Policies - Previous Revision

2008 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in San Antonio, Texas


The National Council of Teachers of English, the professional home for English educators since 1911, has always held that curricular decisions be built on solid pedagogical and theoretical foundations. Instructional programs should provide effective learning experiences for all students, including those for whom English is not their first language. As language arts professionals, the members of NCTE are concerned with seeing all students succeed academically. This includes giving students who speak languages other than English at home the opportunity to develop fluency in English. This fluency represents a key component in "academic literacy," in acquiring and learning to speak "the language of a particular discipline" (from NCELA's "Resources about English Language Literacy, Academic Language, and Content Area Literacy").
The acquisition of English is not, however, intended to displace or denigrate the student's home language. To this end, English-only policies have the effect both of limiting the instructional options available to teachers and of depriving students of their voices. NCTE has acted over the years to recognize teachers as professional decision makers. NCTE also acts on behalf of students in the classroom who must be afforded every opportunity to succeed academically. Any educational strategy, tool, and/or policy that precludes these principles is inconsistent with NCTE's beliefs and positions. Be it therefore


RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English

  • Support continuing comparative study on the effects on students of English-only policies and other English language acquisition programs;
  • Oppose policies that fail to recognize, in all content areas, the importance of adequate materials in students' first language and the necessity for personnel trained in language-minority issues;
  • Oppose attempts by state legislatures to dictate curriculum, curricular materials, and/or teaching and learning strategies that exclude language-minority students from academic success, so that English language learners have access to the best resources for their needs;
  • Support the work of local, state, and federal organizations that oppose English-only policies; and
  • Label English-only policies as censorship designed to deprive language-minority students of their voices and their ability to receive "equal educational opportunity" in the classroom (from NABE's "Educational Excellence and Equity for ELLs," pt. 3).


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