Program Services for English as a Second Language (E.S.L.) Students


English as a Second Language students are those whose primary language(s) of the home is/are other than English and who may therefore require additional services in order to develop their individual potential within British Columbia’s school system. Some students speak variations of English that differ significantly from the English used in the broader Canadian society and in the school; they may require E.S.L. support.English as a Second Language Policy Framework Ministry of Education, 1998

Program Goals
The purpose of the E.S.L. program is to assist students to develop the language skills and knowledge necessary for success in Canadian schools and society. E.S.L. services are designed to strengthen the intellectual, social and career development of E.S.L. students by helping them to:

  • improve their ability to communicate fluently in English at school and in the wider community.
  • acquire the English needed to make academic progress within the B.C. school system and realize their potential.
  • develop their other skills (e.g., numeracy, scientific understanding, group participation).
  • develop an understanding of the similarities and differences between their home culture and the Canadian culture.

Assessment and Placement
E.S.L. students new to the district will be assessed by an E.S.L. specialist and placed in an appropriate level of E.S.L. to meet the students’ needs. Individual programs and teachers will also adapt their service to meet the needs of the E.S.L. students in regular classes. E.S.L. students already in the district will be assessed by an E.S.L. specialist at various times throughout the year, and their E.S.L. program will be modified and updated as the student progresses in their English language development.

Program Delivery
Schools provide various levels of E.S.L. instruction to meet the developing needs of E.S.L. students. The E.S.L. programs in the district are designed to address both the communication and academic needs of E.S.L. students from beginner levels to advanced levels. Teachers, as they help students to move through the levels, ensure that students will be able to cope with the demands of the next level. Students can participate in school activities, clubs and sports teams which greatly enhance their English language skills and build connections with Canadian culture.

Elementary Schools
E.S.L. students:

  • are enrolled in regular classes in their age group for most of the day.
  • are taught in small groups in an E.S.L. class or in a regular classroom for part of the day.
  • participate in subjects which do not require a high level of language.
  • talk, interact, and play with their English-speaking peers to develop their English skills.

Secondary Schools
E.S.L. students in the beginning stages:

  • are placed in multi-grade E.S.L. classes until they are ready to move to regular classes.
  • may be able to move from one E.S.L. level to another during the school year.
  • take regular classes that do not require full fluency in English, such as Math, Business Education, Physical Education, Music and Art.
  • Students with more advanced English language abilities may be placed in Adapted Language Social Studies and English classes. These are full-year credit courses. To successfully complete these courses, students must demonstrate proficiency in both content knowledge and language skills.

E.S.L. Teaching Strategies and Structures
The E.S.L. teacher:

  • teaches language and course content.
  • uses images, diagrams, charts and tables to help students understand the content of the subjects.
  • develops students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
  • uses games, dialogues, stories, music and poems to allow students to experience and enjoy language.
  • uses experiments and activities to teach new concepts in the language of Science, Social Studies and Mathematics.

Learning a New Language
Research shows that it takes most E.S.L. students four to seven years to develop academic language skills equal to successful Canadian students. Learning a new language is a complex and gradual process. Unreasonable expectations of progress by parents, teachers or students themselves sometimes can interfere with language development. Progress rates can vary a great deal for two apparently similar students. Although many E.S.L. students may develop a high degree of English communication skills within about two years through exposure to English speaking peers, television and school, this does not usually reflect their overall academic proficiency in English. E.S.L. students learn English better when there is a meaningful and purposeful connection with their everyday lives and when they receive specific language instruction.