Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Our ELLs & ESL/Bilingual ProgramAre all the students in bilingual education immigrants?
No. The Illinois School Code allows districts to collect place and date of birth information for all students at the time of their enrollment. Based on this information, we have learned that the great majority of our English language learners, especially those in bilingual education, were born in the United States. It changes every year, but in the school year 2016-2017, this represented more than 85% of all our EL students.
Do children in bilingual learn the same content as children in general ed?
Yes. In addition to learning to communicate orally, read and write in English, students in bilingual education learn the same core curricula than their general education peers. They are able to learn all these concepts either in English if it is strong enough by then, or in Spanish. In the end, when the child leaves the bilingual program once he/she is proficient in English, he/she takes with him all that knowledge and he/she uses to make connections with the new content taught in his new general education classroom.
Do students in ESL/Bilingual qualify for Special Education, if needed?
Yes, once the lack of English proficiency is ruled out as the reason for the lack of academic progress and learning difficulties. English as a Second Language services (including bilingual education) are coordinated with the ones provided by the Special Education department.
Don't ELs learn English faster without bilingual support?
Actually, no. There are several Screeners to support the learning of a second language that schools across the world have adopted based on research conducted over several decades. When a child who comes from a home in which a language other than English is spoken regularly, or if the child speaks this other language, and his English proficiency is limited the best way to support the learning of this new language is by developing the oral communication skills, as well as reading and writing, of the child in his native language. By teaching the child to read and write in his native language, the second language (in this case English) is learned faster and deeper and the child learns other content, like math and science, more effectively.
Children learn differently, and each situation is different. Factors like the amount and quality (vocabulary, correct grammar, pronunciation, etc) of the English used by the people surrounding the child, older siblings who have become proficient in English, the amount of reading and writing in English taking place at home and other environments, etc influence how fast and with what quality English is acquired by English language learners. Overall, bilingual education has proven to be an effective program to support the learning of English and to make sure the child learns all the concepts and skills monolingual English speaking peers are required to master, without falling behind.
The amount of native language in the bilingual classroom is reduced in the intermediate and more advanced grades. Children in bilingual education in grades 3 to 12 are not exposed to the same amount of native language as younger students since their native language developing needs are not as substantial as those in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Parents of bilingual students can expect the use of English increasing as the language of instruction once their child reaches these higher school grades.
How do ELs in bilingual K-5 transition to gen. ed.? What is part-time ESL?Once a child in K-5 bilingual education reaches a level of proficiency in English that his teacher, using CCSS and ACCESS data, considers is enough for the child to benefit from spending part of his day outside the bilingual classroom, the child is recommended for a partial general education placement. Even though sometimes this transition takes place sooner, most of these changes take place during the second half of the school year.
Every English language learner’s second language proficiency is measured every year through a state-approved series of tests. Bilingual students who reach a minimum overall proficiency of 4.0 (in a scale that goes from 1.0 to 6.0) at the end of the school year are reclassified as part-time English language learners. These elementary school children start the new school year in a general education classroom, in which English is the only language of instruction. They become part of our English as a Second Language (ESL) program and are instructed by our ESL specialists for several minutes a few times a week. The goal is to contribute to the reinforcement of the child’s reading and writing English skills, in coordination with the child’s classroom teacher. Once the child’s English proficiency reaches an overall level of 4.8, these services are suspended.
How do middle and high school ELs start their transition to general education?Once a child in middle or high school ESL/bilingual education reaches a level of proficiency in English that his teacher considers is enough for the child to benefit from spending part of his day outside the bilingual classroom, the child is recommended for a partial general education placement. Most of these transitions take place during the first week of school, with ESL/Bilingual teachers and administrators having spent the last few weeks of the previous school year analyzing each child’s readiness for these instructional adjustments. These adjustments in schedules can also happen at the beginning of the third quarter.
For as long as the child remains eligible for ESL/bilingual services, his schedule is prepared carefully to expose the child to the right mix of ESL supported classes and general education non-supported ESL ones. The higher the child’s English proficiency, the fewer ESL supported classes he is placed at each year. The process is finalized once he reaches the minimum proficiency in English to stop being considered limited in his English skills. He is then removed from the ESL/bilingual program and continues his education in general education classes.
How is bilingual education funded?
Every eligible school-age child who resides within the geographic/demographic limits of Valley View school district is eligible for a seat in our of the district’s classrooms. These basic services are funded, in different percentages, by the federal, state and local governments. Elementary age children who are limited in English and who qualify for bilingual education services are grouped in classrooms/schools that offer these special language development services, in addition to the basic services that would be provided to the child if left in a general education classroom. When seen this way, having a bilingual program in Valley View is the equivalent to distributing and regrouping students and teachers and, thus, of resources. Every seat taken by a bilingual student represents one less seat needed in the general education classroom. Still, there are costs associated with the grouping of students from different buildings into the 8 schools hosting our K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 ESL/ bilingual program. Transportation is one of them. State law requires lower class sizes in bilingual; 10% lower than in general education. The teaching of a second language requires materials and textbooks in native language and textbooks specifically designed for the development of English as a second language that would not be needed in a general education classroom. These extra expenses are for the most part funded through state and federal grants our district qualifies for.
How is bilingual in grades K-2 different than bilingual in grades 3-5?The learning needs of students in the primary grades (kindergarten through second grade) are different than the ones of students in the intermediate grades (third through fifth). In the lower grades children, in general, need support learning to read and write. They need to develop these skills so they can later use them as tools to learn more complex and extension concepts, once they move on to the intermediate, middle and high school grades. They need to develop academic vocabulary and grammar, as well as math skills and scientific knowledge. The same applies to bilingual students in these grades. Students focus on developing all these skills and learning mathematical and scientific concepts and operations, as students in general ed do, but they do so using their native language. They need to learn to read and write using the vocabulary and oral language (sounds, vowels, consonants) that are familiar to them and that is used at home. These are the bricks used to construct and develop their reading skills. Trying to learn to read using words and grammatical structures that are foreign makes the process very hard. They have to learn the skill. Once they master it, it can be used with multiple languages. Reading is a skill that needs to be constantly practiced and perfected. This doesn’t mean that English grammar and vocabulary are ignored in these important years. Children receive English as a Second Language instruction daily in sessions of 30 to 35 minutes. These lessons are usually incorporated during the social studies and science block of the day.
Whereas students in kindergarten to second grade focus on developing their basic reading skills, students in the intermediate grades focus on not only continue developing and perfecting these skills but now they are required to use them to learn new concepts and to construct knowledge and facilitate discussions. Students are required not only to acquire information through reading but to analyze and criticize it. They also need to be able to communicate their ideas orally but also through writing. Bilingual students in these grades are required to perform the same activities and develop the same skills and learning. The language of instruction used by the bilingual teachers at these grade levels is primarily English. Most of the bilingual students start leaving the self-contain bilingual classroom at the end of the third or fourth grade. They go ahead to become part-time ELs receiving instruction in the general education classroom. Bilingual education in the intermediate grades focuses on boosting the reading and writing skills of the children, so they can leave the program with the literacy and English skills they need to continue their education in the general education classroom/schools and be successful learners.
How long does the typical EL stay in the bilingual ed program?
The majority of our students that begin in our full-time program at kindergarten usually transition to partial placement at the end of third grade. We have some students who transition at the end of 5th grade.
How much Spanish is used in the bilingual classroom?
Full time transitional Bilingual Education (TBE); Designed for students whose primary language is Spanish. The students’ first language is used to the degree necessary to bridge academic success in VVSD’s core curriculum. The goal of this program is to develop English language proficiency necessary for academic success and to prepare ELs for their transition into the general education program of instruction. The time allocated for instruction in English and the native language varies depending on the students’ program year and/or English language proficiency.Kindergarten-First grade bilingual students receive 60% Spanish instructions. The rest of the instructional day is facilitated in English.Third-Fifth grade bilingual students receive mostly English instruction. Teachers provide support for students that are still in need of native language through one-on-one instruction or small group instruction.
My child attended Pre-K in English. Does he/she qualify for bilingual?
Yes, during kindergarten round-up any student that speaks another language will be administered the Kindergarten Screener English language proficiency placement test. If the student scores a level of 1.0-5.0 the student qualifies for either full time or part-time bilingual.
On average, how long does it take to become proficient in English?
According to Jim Cummins and his research on language acquisition, he states that English language learners who had no formal instruction in their home countries needed 7 to 10 years of instruction in English to reach grade level. English language learners who had two to three years of formal schooling in their home countries and who entered schools in the United States between the ages of 8-12 needed 5 to 7 years of instruction in English to reach grade level. In VVSD, the average EL meets/exceeds in PARCC after 7 years of being identified as EL.
What does Limited English Proficient (LEP) mean?
The state definition of limited-English proficient (LEP) is taken from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, S. 9101, 25, of Title IX:
“(25) LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT. – The term ‘limited-English proficient’, when used with respect to an individual, means an individual –
- who is aged three through 21;
- who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;
- who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English; who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency; or who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and
- whose difficulty is speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual the ability to meet the State’s proficient level of achievement on State assessments described in Section 1111(b)(3) and the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or the opportunity to participate fully in society.”
What if I don't want my child to receive ESL/Bilingual services?
Parents have the right to refuse full time or part-time Bilingual programs for their child. Waivers are signed by those parents who refuse at the time of enrollment. Parents also have the right to withdraw their child after he or she has been placed in one of our programs. The school is notified of the change in program placement. Student’s records are updated on the CIMS/AS400 and a copy of the waiver is sent to the school to be placed in the cumulative folder. Students that have a waiver are held to the general program standards for instruction, assessment, and promotion.
What is the ESL Pull-Out program? How does it work? Who is in it?
Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI): Designed for students whose primary language is other than Spanish and where there is an enrollment of 19 or fewer ELs of the same language background. The goal of this program is to develop academic skills in English while in a general education classroom. Depending on the language levels of the child, the ESL teacher will pull-out the child in small groups and will decide how many days a week and times that he or she will provide services.
Part-Time Bilingual Education Program: Designed for Spanish speaking students that obtain a level higher than 3.5 in reading and writing in English or an overall level of English below 4.8 on his/her language proficiency evaluation. If a child is in elementary (kindergarten through fifth grade), he/she will be enrolled in the school that corresponds to him based on his/her address (the district has 12 elementary schools) and will receive part-time bilingual services.
Middle School (grades 6-8) or High School (grades 9-12) Students in these levels will be with other children with similar needs, they will receive intensive English classes. The student will receive classes in mathematics, social studies and/or science with or without linguistic support (it will depend on his/her level of English proficiency and academic yield). These services are offered at Brooks Middle School (Gr. 6-8) and Bolingbrook or Romeoville High School (Gr. 9-12).
What is the goal of the bilingual program? Will my child read in 2 languages?
The bilingual program is designed for students whose primary language is Spanish. The students’ first language is used to the degree necessary to bridge academic success in VVSD’s core curriculum. The goal of this program is to develop English language proficiency necessary for academic success and to prepare ELs for their transition into the general education program of instruction. The time allocated for instruction in English and the native language varies depending on the students’ program year and/or English language proficiency.Yes, the students will learn to read and write in both languages.
What kind of programs does VVSD have to address the needs of our ELs?
VVSD meets the needs of our K-12 student population with limited English proficiency through various programs:
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE): Designed for students whose primary language is Spanish. The students’ first language is used to the degree necessary to bridge academic success in VVSD’s core curriculum. The goal of this program is to develop English language proficiency necessary for academic success and to prepare ELs for their transition into the general education program of instruction.
The time allocated for instruction in English and the native language varies depending on the students’ program year and/or English language proficiency.Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI): Designed for students whose primary language is other than Spanish and where there is an enrollment of 19 or fewer ELs of the same language background. The goal of this program is to develop academic skills in English while in a general education classroom.
Transitional Bilingual Education at Middle and High School
Valley View School District offers English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for students in grades 6-12. Students who are eligible attend Brooks Middle School (Bolingbrook and Romeoville residents), and Bolingbrook or Romeoville High Schools.
Some strategies used include the following:
An extensive assessment plan to document a student’s language and academic progress.
Efficient and timely communication with parents regarding program services, placement recommendations, and student language and academic progress.
Students are placed in ESL l, ll, lll, or IV based on their ACCESS or Screener English proficiency levels.
Newcomers who are Spanish speakers are enrolled in bilingual content area classes.
Use of the District’s curriculum for all subjects in grades 6-12.
Use of state standards for English language learners in grades 6-12.
- Use of instructional strategies including Sheltered English, cooperative learning, hands-on activities, and projects.
What special training do bilingual and ESL teachers have?
All VVSD teachers in our bilingual program positions must have:
- Teaching licenses with a Bilingual or ESL Approval/Endorsement
- Educator License with Stipulations. This certificate is a temporary certificate issued only once for a period of five years.
According to the Illinois Administrative Code, it requires that all teachers in a state bilingual or ESL education programs participate in professional development trainings related to these programs. VVSD is committed to providing effective and extensive professional development in the area of guided reading, reading workshop, writing workshop, ESL instruction, Common Core Standards, Teacher Clarity, Responsive Classroom and Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP); many VVSD general and special education teachers have also been trained on SIOP and/or become ESL endorsed. Our teachers also participate in other professional development activities such as conferences or workshops.
Who is an English Language Learner (EL)?
An English Language Learner means any children of limited English‑speaking ability" (1) all children in grades pre‑K through 12 who were not born in the United States, whose native tongue is a language other than English, and who are incapable of performing ordinary classwork in English; and (2) all children in grades pre‑K through 12 who were born in the United States of parents possessing no or limited English‑speaking ability and who are incapable of performing ordinary classwork in English.
Who qualifies for ESL/Bilingual services?
TBE and TPI Eligibility is based on the scores and levels of the English language proficiency assessment. If the student's Overall Composite Level is less than 5.0 in the Screener or ACCESS assessments the student is eligible for the full time or part-time bilingual or ESL Programs.
Why does my child have to take the English proficiency screener upon enrollment?
According to the Illinois School Code, any students that the parents indicate that there is a second language spoken at home will be administered an English language proficiency assessment called the SCREENER. Students will be assessed in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. TBE and TPI Eligibility based on English language proficiency are as follows: If the Overall Composite Score is less than 5.0 the student is eligible for the bilingual or ESL program.