English as a second language

Angel Vazquez is 9 years old, has hearing loss in both ears, has trouble speaking and struggles to concentrate in class. He's a year behind in school, just learned how to read and is still learning English. For nearly two years, his mom, Angeles Garcia, tried to get him evaluated for special education at his elementary school in Houston.

Garcia sent the school three letters, pleading for an assessment. She even included medical documents describing some of his disabilities, but she says the school ignored her.

Sixteen-year-old Na Da Laing struggled in elementary school.

"I was different from other students," she remembers. "I couldn't speak English at all."

Now, eight years later, she's reading George Orwell's Animal Farm.

In the U.S., roughly one in 10 students is an English language learner.
Many schools struggle to help them feel comfortable with their new language. Helping them get ahead and to college is another challenge entirely.