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English Language Learners

English as a Second Language

Pennsylvania currently has approximately 61,000 English Language Learners (ELLs) who speak over 200 different languages. Every Local Education Agency is responsible for the education of pupils whose primary language is not English and who are ELs (LEA). Section 4.26 of Title 22, Chapter 4 of the Curriculum Regulations requires the LEA to establish a program for every English learner student (EL). 

The purpose of language instruction educational programs (LIEPs) is to assist students whose native or first language is not English in acquiring English competence and academic success. Without instruction in social and academic English and proper support for understanding academic material, these students risk missing educational opportunities available to non-EL students.

Identification and Assessment

When registering a student for school, parents or guardians must complete a document called the Home Language Survey. This form requires the parent or guardian to respond to a number of questions on the primary language spoken at home. If the student's primary language is not English, the school district coordinator notifies the district ESL teacher. The district ESL teacher will interview the student's parent or guardian and, if necessary, conduct a screening process. If testing is required, the district ESL instructor will assess the student utilizing the WIDA Online Screener. Students are evaluated on their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. This exam informs the teacher of the student's English language competency level, which facilitates daily ESL lesson planning. When necessary, interpreters can be utilized to speak with students and/or parents/guardians.


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