Whole language vs. phonics for English language learners

California is faced with a crisis! There are more English language learners than ever entering schooL Every effort must be made to determine which strategies best support these kids to learn to read and write in English. English language learners have different needs than their native English speaking counterparts. Teachers must determine how best to allocate time and determine strategies to insure English language learners both successfully learn to read and write in English, and are also engaged in their own learning. The Unz Initiative, or English For the Children, was just legally passed by voters in California. Many educators are terrified how this may affect the success ofour English language learners. Research shows they have done well with bilingual education. This has been for all intents and purposes, abolished. Certain districts have chosen to adopt a strict interpretation ofthe Unz Initiative, foregoing bilingual education, and plunging English language learners into complete English immersion. Due to this, careful consideration must be paid to using the best strategies to engage these students in their own learning, and to insure they learn to read. The whole language proponents are certain their method is the best for English language learners to learn to read in English. The direct phonics instruction proponents are certain their method is best to teach English language learners to read in English. Are they right? Are they wrong? Are they both right? Time in the primary grades is short. The teacher must research which methods best work for their students. Perhaps each situation is unique. Attention must be given to this large number ofstudents. Which method best meets their needs, whole language, or direct phonics instruction, or both?