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What Are English Language Learners?

By Kaitlyn Gilmore (‘22)

The English Language Learners (ELL) program is for students who do not speak English or whose first, second or even third language is not English. ELL is also frequently known as English as a Second Language (ESL).

As of now, there are 11 different languages spoken in the ELL program such as Hindi, Vietnamese and Italian among 21 students. The number of students in the program is always changing due to students advancing to regular classes and new people coming in.

To qualify for ELL, students have to be recommended by a teacher or a staff member and are required to take a test called the WIDA (World-class Instructional Design and Assessment) Model, which is a measure of assessing developing English language. This test measures a student’s reading, writing, speaking and comprehension ability. Depending on the student’s score, he or she may be placed in a specific ELL class. The classes are split into levels based on the students' scores on the WIDA model test.

When asked about the goal of ELL, World Language and ELL supervisor Mr. Thomas Decker said, “[It’s] not to teach English to students 100%. It’s to give them the foundation and vocabulary skills so that the natural learning process of the language can occur.”

The main goal of ELL is to help students to speak, write and understand English. By the time they exit the program, they should be able to understand English enough to write a resume, fill out an application, and gain independence.

Sophomore Nicole Tamayo said that being in ELL has helped her immensely, “I can speak more English and can talk with other students”.

Students in ELL are often offered volunteer opportunities to help strengthen their English speaking skills like working in the library or helping with kids at back to school night. It allows the students to practice English and get a sense of what it is like working.

ELL teacher Mrs.Karen Slater said, “We want to make them feel comfortable here and allow them to feel like they’re valued no matter where they are coming from.”

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