English Language Learners

Overview K-12

The English Language Learners (ELL) program provides services to students whose primary language is not English and who are not yet proficient in English. The program provides support at each school, with services focused on children’s English language acquisition, literacy development, and academic achievement.  Within the ESL Department, we focus on the development of the four skills areas of language learning (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

English Immersion Model

Massachusetts state law mandates that all classes must be taught in English. In the immersion model teachers shelter their instruction to meet the needs of English Language Learners.

Peabody ELL Program Model

Elementary School

ELLs are placed in their grade-appropriate class. However, depending on their language needs, they will receive in or out of class English language development by an ESL teacher.

Middle School

ELLs attend English class with an ESL teacher to improve their English proficiency.

High School

There are several ELL classes offered for students to aid in their English development. These may include: ELL English Language Arts, ELL Science courses, ELL Social Studies courses, ELL Math courses, and other support classes.

Each proficiency group (WIDA Levels 1 – 5) follows requirements for ELL instruction using two methods of instruction: Inclusion and Pullout. In addition to academic language, children are constantly exposed to social language in all school contexts.

ELL students participate in ELL program to strengthen academic vocabulary across the content areas, access or build background knowledge, read for comprehension, and write for different purposes. This “language-in-content” approach is essential to the academic program of each student, regardless of his/her English proficiency or amount of time in the U.S. since ELL students are required to participate in and pass state content tests along with the native English peers.

The ELL program is not part of special education; however, ELL students and former ELL students have the right to special education services, when appropriate. Before referring an ELL for special education testing, all regular education means, including the ELL program and reading and math general education interventions, should be used to support language, literacy, and other gaps in performance. At the school level, attention should be paid to:

  • Informing and involving parents using their first language, when appropriate
  • Testing ELL students using first language and culturally unbiased test instruments and procedures when appropriate
  • Providing culturally aligned instruction similar to those principles espoused in the current “sheltered English immersion” models required by the MA Department of Education for any classroom with even one ELL student.

Identifying ELL Students

The best way to assure academic success for ELL students is to identify them accurately and early, be sure that the ELL staff has assessed them so they can receive appropriate language development services, and adjust your teaching to their needs. You should receive an ELL program “Classroom Teacher Intake Summary” forms for each new ELL student and for each on-going/returning ELL student. This form provides the following:

Classroom Teacher Intake Summary

  1. The identified proficiency level (1 – 5) for the 4 language areas of listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. These levels are equated to the WIDA standards
  2. Background information such as home language, years of prior schooling in the home country and/or any other U.S. site, and the status of ELL enrollment (accept, opt-out by parent, waiver)
  3. The name of the ELL teacher at your school

ELL/ESL and “Sheltered English Immersion”

“Sheltering” English is a means of modifying curriculum, instructional strategies, assessment, and materials for all levels of English learners in the general education classroom. In MA, all classroom teachers and other professional staff are required by the MA Department of Education to complete courses that are aligned to the RETELL initiative by July of 2016 in order to meet licensure requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my child need to be tested?
All students entering Peabody Public Schools whose home language includes a language other than English must be tested for English language proficiency. (G.L.c.71A, sec. 4,5) – “The district has procedures that actively seek to identify limited English proficient students.” – Coordinated Program Review Procedures –Massachusetts Department of Education.)

How long will my child be enrolled in the program?
It depends. There are several factors that affect language development including age at which language is being learned, years of language study, literacy skills in the native language, etc. ESL teachers review grades, mandated state test scores, teacher recommendations, and other criteria to determine when the child will no longer need language support. Research demonstrates that on average it takes 5-7 years for students to learn enough English to be successful in the classroom. Some students may accomplish this in as few as 3 years.

Does my child need to take the state-mandated MCAS?
All students need to take the MCAS exam with the exception that recent arrivals can be waived from the English MCAS in their first year. However, most of the time, students take the English MCAS for test-taking experience. English Language Learners are provided with a bilingual dictionary, which can be used while taking the MCAS exam.

How can I get involved with the school?
There are several ways to participate in the school community including attending school performances, volunteering to chaperone a field trip, joining the Parent-Teacher Organization, etc. Speak with your child’s school teachers/administrators for more information.

What can I do to support my child?
Transitioning to a new country with a different language and culture can be both stressful and exciting. One way to help is by being supportive and patient with your child’s efforts to adapt to the new environment.

Other ways are:

  1. Reading
    -Create a routine or a special reading time for whole family.
    -Create a routine or a special reading time for whole family.
    -Reading a book together and share your ideas.
    -Take trips to the public library together.
    -Turn off the computer and the TV
  2. Writing
    -Encourage your child to keep a diary in English
    -Write grocery lists together in English.
    -Send letters and postcards to English-speaking friends and family members
  3. Speaking
    -Encourage your child to join a team or a club -Volunteer together in the community.
    -Encourage your child to work with English-speaking children (e.g. babystting & daycare)
  4. Listening
    -Get books-on-tape from the library and listen to them in the car or at home.
    -Rent movies together and discuss them.