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For many immigrant students, remote learning during COVID-19 comes with more hurdles

The Conversation |

Timothy P Williams – Adjunct Professor, Boston College

Avary Carhill-Poza – Associate professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

As scholars of immigration and education, we have conducted research into how immigrant students used technology for learning. Our recent paper draws on research carried out at a public high school in the greater Boston area between 2013 and 2016. More than half of the 1,850 students at the school speak a language other than English at home, and 38% of the students are growing up in economic hardship.

As schools implement hybrid and remote learning on a large scale, we recommend that educators consider three key lessons we learned in our research.

  • Access is not the same as equity
  • Language matters – it’s all dependent on immigrant students’ comfort using English
  • Many immigrant students work

There is a very real danger that the move to remote learning could reinforce the very inequalities immigrant students already encounter in U.S. schools. We argue that remote learning must be calibrated to attend to the needs of those students at the margins.