English as a Second Language
By Mrs. Stephanie Heard, K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher and
Dr. Anthony Lanzo, Principal of F.N. Brown School
English Language Learners (ELLs) make up about 10% of our public school students in the United States. F.N. Brown School has been designated as the elementary school in Verona where students attend who are in need of English as a Second Language (ESL) services. Students whose native language is other than English or live with a parent or family member whose native language is other than English are screened for language proficiency skills. The students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills are assessed using the WIDA screener, a state approved English language test. The proficiency assessment is one of multiple criteria which is used for students to be considered for English language services. Staff members administering the WIDA screener must be trained and certified by completing online WIDA sponsored training modules to administer the screener. New Jersey is one of 39 states that belong to the national WIDA consortium. Once a student has been identified as needing ESL services, he or she receives 30 minutes of daily instruction at the elementary school level and a class period or 40 minutes at the middle and high school levels.
We have close to 20 students currently receiving ESL services. The majority of the students are at the elementary level, attending F.N. Brown School. Our ELLs represent 12 different languages in our school district. Those languages include the following: Turkish, Gujarati, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Korean, Swedish, Malayalam, Farsi, Mandarin, Thai and Ukrainian.
Our ESL lessons are based on the WIDA standards and are correlated to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). The ESL teacher collaborates with the various classroom teachers to ensure that all ELL’s receive academic instruction and support that is aligned with curricular units. The lesson delivery addresses the various learning styles, creating attainable goals for each student. Individual student profiles are reviewed and analyzed to determine students’ proficiency levels. Lessons are designed and materials are adapted to support students’ language growth in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
It is recommended that a student achieve a state-determined specific overall score on the ACCESS 2.0, and he or she should be performing on grade level in order to exit the ESL program. The length of time a student remains in the ESL program varies for a variety of reasons. Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (B.I.C.S.) which a student may attain in 2-3 years and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (C.A.L.P.) which may take 5-7 years to achieve are guidelines used to understand the length of time it may take a student to be considered proficient in English and performing on grade level in their content area classes.
Verona subscribes to the WIDA “Can Do” philosophy where we believe that each student brings a unique set of assets that enrich the experiences of all learners and educators. We focus on what our ELL’s can do, therefore sending a message that students from diverse backgrounds contribute to our schools. We believe that languages and cultures that our ELL’s bring to our district are valuable resources. We take great pride as an inclusive school district that embraces diversity and celebrates all students’ contributions.
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