The number of students who speak a foreign language in their homes is likely to exceed 50 percent of the school population, according to Fairfax County school officials.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 14.1 percent of the Virginia population ages five and older speak a language other than English at home, but it increases to 35.9 percent in Fairfax County.
When school started earlier this month, officials saw a huge increase in the amount of students who will need English language lessons. A projected 31,500 students — or 17 percent of the Fairfax County student population — will enroll in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), The Washington Post reported.
At Hybla Valley Elementary School, more than 67 percent of 831 students are classified as ESOL. At Mount Eagle Elementary School, the percentage is nearly 56 percent, as it the number at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary, with Groveton Elementary not far behind.
The number is nearly 50 percent at Bucknell Elementary, 33 percent at Hollin Meadows Elementary, 25 percent at Belle View Elementary, 7 percent at Stratford Landing Elementary, 12 percent at Fort Hunt Elementary and 3 percent at Waynewood Elementary.
Riverside Elementary had percentage of more than 34 percent ESOL students. The percentage was nearly 55 percent at Woodley Hills Elementary, 38 percent for Washington Mill Elementary, 27 percent at Woodlawn Elementary and 5 percent at Fort Belvoir Elementary.
However, not all the students who live in homes where English is a second language need more English instruction. Many of them are bilingual and fluent English speakers. Some ESOL students are immigrants, but the majority of them were born in the U.S. to immigrant families.
According to The Washington Post, the school system normally spends $3,300 per student for ESOL lessons, and this year, 7,652 students will enroll in lessons, costing $25.3 million.