Englishlanguage learners (ELLs) experience challenges in their struggle tounderstand instructions delivered in English. Usually, theyexperience challenges in deriving meaning from English conveyedsentences out of various internal and external factors that interactwith them. According to The Council of the Great City Schools (2013),“English Language Learners (ELLs) are among the fastest-growingdemographic group in U.S. public schools.” This reveals that thereexists a thirst by many to be conversant with the language. However,this process proves tricky. While some are capable of getting alongwith it relatively smoothly, others appear to be dared by itsmaneuvers, both in spoken and written forms. Definitely, theplacement of these ELLs into the system of learning English is one ofthe key factors that contribute to their bottlenecks. To identify theELLs who might require special instructional services, assessment isusually conducted. This may take structure in either formal orinformal methods. This essay is a summary of findings afterconducting an interview with one of those Ells’ instructorregarding the subject.

Tostart with, limited access to a test can measure the skills andqualifications that are unrelated to the intended constructs. “Testresults underestimate the student’s level of achievement in thetarget content area”, (U. S Department of Education, 2010), thatis, when limited access allows construct- irrelevant factors tointerfere with the way in which a learner understands and responds toa test. For instance, in doing a Mathematics test, the testdirections and test items typically are presented in English. As aresult, the learner may fail to solve the math problem out of theirweakness in understanding the language terms used and not the problemin question.

Secondly,the culture of a learner acts as a major drawback as to interpretingEnglish language instructions. This has immense effect on the way inwhich he/she responds to a test. The first language “mother tongue”affects the process of learning the second one “English” wherethe learner may fail to connect, differentiate or discover thevarious discrepancies between those languages. In spite of that,his/her level of literacy, the amount of formal elementary andsecondary schooling they completed and the span of their academicknowledge.

Additionally,the instructor may affect the way in which assessment realizes itseffectiveness when his/her pronunciation, or generally his/her way ofspeaking doesn’t match as desired by the learner. The method inwhich the assessment is done also affects the results. While somelearners are good in communicating through writing, others performremarkably well in spoken language and interviews are better testfor them. The scoring approach the instructor applies is a factorthat determines the accuracy of the results.

Insummary, ELL’s assessment and placement is contingent of a seriesof connected factors that exist around an ELL’s environment. Thepeople involved should therefore be aware of the existing demographicfactors so that the assessment and placement are done effectively.The instructor should consider the language background of the ELL,his age and past experiences in English language, otherqualifications in earlier stages of education, the variables andobjectives of the assessment used in placement, the method andapproach applied in conducting the assessment and the learner’sproficiency in the use of formal or informal fields of assessment.


Councilof The Great City Schools. (2013) EnglishLanguage Learners in America’s Great City Schools: Demographics,Achievement, and Staffing.Washington, DC.

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Departmentof Education Accommodations for English Language Learner students:The Effect of Linguistic Modification of Math Test Item Sets.NCEE 2009–4079 U. S.