English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)/ Dual Language Bilingual Education (DLBE)
Adrienne Viscardi, Director of ESOL Programs, K-12
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Serving a distinct and dynamic population, the K-12 Department of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) aims to promote the academic excellence, creativity, and wellness of English language learners. Specifically, the Department endeavors to advance district efforts to reduce the achievement gap among students of culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds. New York State’s recent adoption of the Common Core Standards prompts a timely review of the ESOL Department’s structure, resources, and instructional approaches
The district recognizes that ELLs come to the country and classroom with varied educational, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. Among the factors affecting students’ academic achievement and community membership are the experiences of literacy, migration, and financial hardship. ESOL faculty and staff actively participate in community efforts that fortify the home-school connection with this segment of the population. The ESOL Department seeks to collaborate with leadership and clinicians in a thoughtful review of existing programs and services to determine whether the district or larger community adequately addresses the specific needs of ELLs and their families.
At every grade level, ESOL instruction is designed in alignment with the Common Core Learning Standards and the TESOL Standards of English Language Proficiency. Specifically, students develop academic language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing through the content areas. Entering and emerging ELLs receive intensive language instruction in small groups concurrent with the literacy instruction of their native English-speaking peers. The ESOL faculty strives to develop students’ basic interpersonal communication skills and instructional language, laying a foundation in academic language proficiency for studies across the disciplines.
In addition to their mandated English language and literacy instruction, ELLs participate in mainstream classroom experiences upon entry into the district. Where larger clusters of ELLs exist in a single section, essential scaffolding is provided through a co-taught model or with the support of a teacher and/or instructional assistant. Optimally, transitional and expanding ELLs receive small-group language instruction in addition to receiving grade-level content instruction in the mainstream classroom, where ESOL and content-area teachers work collaboratively or with content-area teachers in sheltered classes in accordance with the SIOP protocol.
The ESOL faculty recognizes that achieving English proficiency according to state measures is only one indicator of academic achievement. To this end, the Department aspires to monitor the continued progress of former LEP students through direct instruction, co-teaching, and consultation with mainstream teachers. Similarly, the Department believes that language minority students who are not LEP eligible but demonstrate similar gaps in vocabulary and comprehension would benefit from ESOL instruction.
Our Guiding Principles
Theory, research, and evidence-based practice in multiple arenas drive the work of the K-12 ESOL Department. Specifically, the Department has derived a shared set of beliefs rooted in the fields of second language acquisition, bilingual studies, multicultural theory, and immigration studies. The ESOL Department aims to develop and maintain a continuum of service rooted firmly in these principles.
- English language learners rise to the same high expectations that are established for all students.
- Language learning is a developmental, not remedial, process.
- English language learners receive distinct language instruction designed for second language learners.
- A learner’s ability in his or her first language informs instruction in the second language.
- Culturally and linguistically diverse learners require thorough and explicit instruction in content and language.
- English language learners actively develop proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in classes exposing them to demanding content material and strong models of language.
- Smaller instructional groups and classes maximize teacher-student interaction and interaction among students, accelerating ELLs’ language development.
- Educators evaluate ELLs using appropriate and valid assessments that consider a student’s level of English proficiency and cultural background.
- All educators share responsibility for the academic success of ELLs with the family and the community.
"Language should be a central part of the curriculum but not [only] because bilingualism postpones the onset of dementia: any intellectually engaged activity requiring intense involvement will keep your brain healthy. Learning other languages is important because it helps you understand other people, other cultures, other ways of thinking. Even if it didn't change your brain, there are just so many benefits."
----Dr. Ellen Bialystok
Neuroscientist and Distinguished Research Professor at York University