English Language Learner Program
The English Language Learner (ELL) program at Concordia is committed to providing students with the support they need to fully participate in the rich English learning environment we strive daily to create. All support has the ultimate goal of helping students improve their English proficiency to use academic language confidently in the areas of vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
What we believe
The ELL program believes in:
- Partnering together with parents, other teachers, and our students to foster language development.
- Promoting understanding and respect for cultural and individual differences.
- The power of continued mother tongue (native language) development and its positive impact on English language development.
- Language learning occurring most successfully through active engagement in school activities and social interactions.
- Cooperative planning between the ELL coach and classroom teacher providing the most impactful instructional delivery model.
Who We serve
The ELL program is designed for students who are learning English as an additional language. ELL coaches carefully review student records, observe interactions in the classroom, and conduct English proficiency testing to help inform the decision as to who requires additional support in the area of English acquisition.
Support looks different from one grade level to another, alternating among consultation with classroom teachers, in-class support, co-teaching, and focused small group pull-out lessons.
Students may receive support in the classroom from ELL coaches during the language arts block, as well as some social studies, science, or math blocks (dependent on grade level). In addition, students may receive small group or 1:1 instruction, which would target the development of specific skills or content knowledge. Classroom teachers and ELL coaches work closely with one another to promote and assess language growth.
In our Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten programs, classroom teachers and teacher assistants are offered regular consultative training from an ELL coach in order to best implement language development strategies into the daily routines and content of their play activities that invite learning.
In addition, students in our middle school ELL program may participate in an English Language Development (ELD) course, which meets every other day and focuses on the English language skills needed to find success in the content of the core classes. This course traditionally replaces the world language option in the student schedule.
It is important to note that no formal ELL services are available at the high school level at this time.
To provide a diverse and optimal learning environment for all students, the number of English Language learners is monitored in each grade level. An English proficiency assessment (developed by WIDA) is administered as part of the admissions process and can include scores in the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In grades K-8, this English proficiency assessment is also administered at the end of each semester to track the student’s level of proficiency in English. According to the student’s results, he/she will be placed in a classroom where his/her language support needs can be effectively met.
Although a student may initially be accepted to Concordia without ELL support, the student may be placed in the ELL program based on teacher’s recommendation and other classroom indicators.
In making a decision to exit a student from the ELL program, the following will be considered by the ELL coach and classroom teacher in order to determine whether the student demonstrates the level of proficiency needed for independent success within the regular classroom environment:
- ELL student’s ability to follow along and participate in the classroom lessons and activities without scaffolding and/or modifications for language.
- ELL student’s confidence and ability to work independently.
- ELL student performance and work samples, including report cards, internal grade-level assessments, and English proficiency assessment.
- The length of time an ELL student has been in the program and/or presence of other identified learning needs may also be considered.
Students (grades K-8) receive ELL progress reports at the end of each semester (twice annually) via the report card. In addition, parent/teacher conferences are scheduled twice during the school year and ELL coaches may be present at an ELL student’s conference. Any additional conferences with ELL coaches may be arranged at any point during the year. Parents, ELL coaches, and classroom teachers are encouraged to communicate any questions or concerns as they arise.
We recommend the following strategies to support your child’s language development and English fluency:
- Maintain your child’s mother tongue (native language) at home or in after-school language programs.
- If possible, model being a bilingual language learner.
- Keep multilingual materials around your home.
- Celebrate your child’s efforts while acquiring a new language.
- Obtain books about topics of study in your child’s mother-tongue (native language). Understanding concepts and vocabulary in the mother-tongue will facilitate learning through English.
- Plan social or weekend activities so that your child can maintain contact with English speakers.
- Access English CDs, DVDs, or online resources for your child to listen to. ELL Coaches can provide suggestions for appropriate resources.
- Be patient! Language learning is a process and research has shown that it can take 3-5 years to attain an advanced proficiency in English. At times, you or your child are likely to feel frustrated. Allow for time to become comfortable and confident in the English language.
- Read to your child every night (in English, your mother tongue, or both).
- Recognize that your child might go through a “silent period” while they are learning a new language. Most learners hesitate to speak in the beginning. But, during this time they are listening to the sounds of the language before attempting to speak it. This period can last up to several months and is a normal part of language learning.
- Get your child involved in co-curricular activities.
- Involve your child in programs that help build and maintain English skills over long holidays (summer and winter break).
- Maintain close contact with your child’s ELL coach (send an email or write a note).
- Ask for help if you do not understand something or have questions/concerns. The Concordia faculty and staff are here to help you!