Gifted English Language Learners

The article, Identifying Gifted and Talented English Language Learners, explained that there is some disagreement over the characteristics of ELL gifted/talented students. The article noted, “Research has described gifted English Language Learners as having varying degrees of the following characteristics: •acquires a second language rapidly, •shows high ability in mathematics, •displays a mature sense of diverse cultures and languages, •code switches easily (think in both languages), •demonstrations an advanced awareness of American expressions, •translators at an advanced level (oral), •navigates appropriate behaviors successfully within both cultures” (p. 12). I think that identification with ELL students is difficult because there is a lot of grey area. More research needs to be done on identification with ELL students. When identifying students from different cultures, it is important to understand their culture. This is a lot of work for the evaluator. Unfortunately, time and money seem to get the best of the identification process for ELL students. The person identifying the students may not have a complete understanding of the student’s culture; therefore, they cannot effectively identify ELL students. It is important to understand an ELL student’s Language Proficiency. In my district, there should definitely be some changes made to best reach ELL students. Right now, when I give the screener to all of the second grade students, the directions are in English. If a student does not know English, then they will not be successful on the screeners. It definitely is not fair to ELL students. Quantitative and nonverbal areas should be the focus. Verbal screeners would not be accurate for these students.

I do not think that gifted ELL students should attend a different program than other gifted students. Aguirre and Hernandez (2011) explained, “We are striving for excellence for all students; therefore, we need to be instrumental in eliminating the barriers that keep gifted bilingual or SLLs from participating in programs for gifted and talented students” (p. 276). In an ideal gifted program, all gifted students in an entire school system would be able to attend a gifted center. Within the gifted center English Language Learners could attend classes to specifically meet there needs. I believe that gifted ELL students would greatly benefit from a center-based program. This way many different ELL students from different schools could come together. ELL students could work together sometimes, but they would also be able to work with other non-ELL gifted students. They could attend a small class designed specifically for gifted ELL students for part of the time they are at the center. They would also be able to work with other gifted students who are not ELL. I believe this would benefit non-ELL gifted students as well. According to Aguirre and Hernandez (2011), “Schools need to provide a healthy, constructive climate where gifted SLLs [Second Language Learners] will grow academically; will develop socially and emotionally; will feel safe; are free to take risks; and are provided a sense of belonging and pride and control over their own learning experiences” (p. 276). Having a place for a variety of gifted students would be extremely beneficial for every gifted student.


Aguirre, N., & Hernandez, N. (2011). Differentiating the curriculum for gifted second language learners: Teaching them to think. In J. A. Castellano, & A. D. Frazier (Eds), Special populations in gifted education: Understanding our most able students from diverse backgrounds (pp. 273-285). Waco, TX.: Prufrock Press.

Belin Blank Center. (2008). Identifying Gifted and Talented English Language Learners. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from


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