In the interest of not stigmatizing their peers, students want to change the ELL label to reflect that English language learners are multilingual students.
The description states “The strengths-based label highlights the fact that being bilingual is a highly desired and valuable skill. It more accurately represents their intelligence and abilities and enables students to see themselves in a more positive light than the deficit based ELL label.”
Christine Olsen teaches seventh and eighth grade ELL students at Seven Hills. She says that she began to think about the significance of the ELL label after attending a conference last year.
“I wanted to know how my students felt about it,” she said. “And they were very honest and open about how they didn’t like it, how it makes them feel stupid and that they aren’t good enough in the eyes of their peers and teachers.”
She asked her class to come up with another term, and they suggested multilingual students. They spread their idea throughout the school. Since they didn’t want to stop at the school level, they came up with the idea of creating a White House petition.