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Multilingual Learners

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English Learners in District 35

EL Learners = English Language Learners

Educational Program for students who speak or are exposed to more than one language and need Support in understanding English used in the classroom & by peers

children and teacher working on computer

ACCESS Testing

In January of each year, your child will receive an English Language Assessment (ACCESS). This assessment will measure the progress that your child is making in speaking, listening, reading and writing in English.  In addition, it also determines whether or not your child continues to be an English Learner, and if so, the amount of support your child will receive. 

The ACCESS test will include assessments in the four domains of language proficiency: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. If you have any questions about the ACCESS testing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s EL teacher at South, West, or Central School.


students working in classroom

EL Level Descriptors

When a student takes an WIDA Access screener, you get a score. Often you’ll also get some indication of what that score means, expressed as an English level or label, for example “beginner” or “advanced”. There are many different English leveling systems in use, which have implicit or explicit leveling systems built into their scoring.

Level 1: Beginning - Entering
This student is often a new arrival with little previous English training and—this is the key—a very limited vocabulary. This student is lost in the classroom and has nothing on which to base his ability to function, comprehend, and respond.  The student has no knowledge of English beyond answers to simple questions like “What’s your name?” He/she may respond with “yes” or “no,” but not always consistently or correctly. He/she may not be able to write in Western script. He/she lacks sufficient vocabulary and oral comprehension to be able to follow directions or do simple classroom assignments. This student may have no knowledge of the American classroom and its participatory style. He/she is not able to work at grade level, even if he/she is placed in first or second grade.

Level 2: Emerging
This student can understand some classroom directions and attempts to do simple assignments but with great hesitancy and misunderstanding. Vocabulary is still greatly limited to commonly-used words. He/she reads and writes with great difficulty, usually below the assigned grade level. This student may be unable to respond to some activities which involve independent decision making, due to differences in the American classroom or teacher style. This student responds very positively to extra attention from the instructor or other students.

Level 3: Intermediate - Developing
This student participates in most classroom activities and follows directions adequately, though with frequent misunderstandings.  Vocabulary is limited but rapidly improving.  He/she may feel comfortable enough in the classroom to respond orally, despite frequent errors and incorrect word selection. This student may be able to do academic work close to grade level but needs frequent writing and vocabulary support. He/she exhibits growing confidence in his/her ability to comprehend and respond in English.

Level 4: High Intermediate - Expanding
This student easily participates in classroom and social activities, constantly adding to his/her knowledge of vocabulary, American culture, and teacher expectations. His/her speech still exhibits a considerable accent, but grammar and vocabulary errors should be receding. This student’s English is changing rapidly at this point, and his/her confidence level should be increasing at the same rate.

Level 5: Advanced - Bridging
This student is able to participate and excel in all classroom and social activities, requiring less frequent teacher intervention with vocabulary and directional assistance. He/she should be able to read at near-grade level with the help of a dictionary, but writing skills may require more teacher support. A noticeable accent may still be present, depending on the age the student was when he/she arrived in the US. This student can function adequately at grade level and often does extremely well because of a high motivation level.

Resources and Tips

students working on computers
Tips to help children learn English on websites:
  • Work Together and Learn Together: Explore various websites and apps together. Let your child explore the various options and model your enthusiasm to learn.
  • Find Topics that Interest Your Child: Find your child’s interest and explore topics that personally motivate them to want to learn more
  • Make it Fun: Play games on the computer, have friendly competitions and make it interactive.
  • Don’t Take Too Long: Limit activities online to 10 minutes or less.  If you are reinforcing an activity, spend no more than 20 to 30 minutes a day depending upon their age. 
  • Browse and explore various websites where your kids can learn English at home and school
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Ideas for Learning Extension at Home
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Multicultural Books Options for Read-Alouds:

Multicultural literature serves as a powerful tool in enabling students to gain a better understanding of both their own culture and the cultures of others. It helps to stimulate an understanding of diversity in the classroom and the world around them. Below are various read aloud options that promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness.

A New Home by Tania Regil
A Ticket Around the World by Kim Smith
Abuela by Arhtur Dorros
All Are Welcome by Suzanne Kaufman
Biblioburro by Jeannette Winter
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee
Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh
Drawn Together by Minh Le
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by Paul Fleischman
Happy in Our Skin by Fran Munushkin
Home by Carson Ellis
I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien
It Takes a Village by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Last Stop on Market Street     Matt de La Peña
Lovely by Jess Hong
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs
My Brother Charlie by Ryan Elizabeth Peete
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson
Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora
Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kosteckii-Shaw
Say Hello by Rachel Isadora
Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates & Juniper Bates
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
The Water Princess by Susan Verde
This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe
This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson
Tía Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina
What We Wear by Maya Ajmera
When We Were Alone by David Robertson
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt