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Facts about English Learners in California

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

In the 2022–23 school year, there were approximately 1.113 million English learners in California public schools, which is less than the year 2021–22. The California Department of Education (CDE) provides assistance to local schools and districts to achieve the following goals:

  • Ensure that English learners acquire full proficiency in English as rapidly and effectively as possible and attain parity with native speakers of English.

  • Ensure that English learners, within a reasonable period of time, achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students.

Meeting these two goals will help close the achievement gap that separates English learners from their native English-speaking peers. In order to accomplish these goals, all English learners are provided with designated and integrated English language development (ELD) instruction targeted to their English proficiency level and appropriate academic instruction in language acquisition program. [California Code of Regulations - 5CCR (c)(1)] Program options may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dual-Language Immersion Program: A classroom setting that provides language learning and academic instruction for native speakers of English and native speakers of another language, with the goals of high academic achievement, first and second language proficiency, and cross-cultural understanding [Education Code (EC) Section 306(c)(1)].

  • Transitional or Developmental Program: A classroom setting for English learners that provides instruction to pupils that utilizes a pupil’s native language for literacy and academic instruction and enables an English learner to achieve English proficiency and academic mastery of subject matter content and higher order skills, including critical thinking, in order to meet the state-adopted academic content standards [EC Section 306(c)(2)].

  • Structured English Immersion: A classroom setting for English learners in which nearly all classroom instruction is provided in English but with a curriculum and presentation designed for pupils who are learning English. At minimum, English learners will be provided a program of Structured English Immersion. [EC sections 305(a)(2) and 306(c)(3)].

Basic Facts—California Language Census: Fall 2022

English learners are a significant portion of California public school students:

  • The 1,112, 535 English learners constitute 19.01 percent of the total enrollment in California public schools.

  • A total of 2,310,311 students (English Learners and Fluent English Proficient) speak a language other than English in their homes. This number represents about 39.5 percent of the state's public school enrollment.

  • The majority of English learners (65.8 percent) are enrolled in the elementary grades, kindergarten through grade six. The rest (34.2 percent) are enrolled in the secondary grades, seven through twelve, and in the ungraded category.

Although English learner data are collected for 108 language groups, 93 percent speak one of the top ten languages in the state:

Language Percent
Mandarin (Putonghua)
Farsi (Persian)
Filipino (Pilipino or Tagalog)


Questions: Data Reporting Office | | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 7, 2024
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