By Para Los Niños
Keeping in step with our integrated approach to educating the whole child—emotional, social, and psychological needs—within the context of their family history and needs, Para Los Niños is building a foundation for engaged learning and academic success for our English Language Learner (ELL) students. These students face the unique challenge of becoming proficient in English while also learning grade-level content in English.
Our charter schools offer students a rigorous academic experience, but we know students have the best opportunity to succeed when their families are valued for the assets they bring to our schools. By creating a culturally and linguistically aware community, Para Los Niños puts families at the center of their child’s education.
Knowing the value of a child’s primary language, Para Los Niños’s instructional program uses their primary language as the building blocks for literacy. For ELL students to reach their potential, they cannot simply be plucked out of their classes for “special” language instruction or be provided accommodations during the course of their regular classes. One without the other is not good enough. They need—and deserve—both.
Para Los Niños’s ELL students are identified through language proficiency assessments which provide us with a roadmap to meet their language needs. Every school day, ELL students have dedicated instructional time to focus on acquiring the language—this time is known as Designated English Language Development (ELD).
During Designated ELD, students build their English language skills using content—from curriculum in subject areas like Math, Science, History, and English Language Arts—as examples.
Throughout the rest of the school day, students continue to receive language support during regular class instruction. Integrated ELD provides students with valuable support as they learn English, in addition to access to the subject content curriculum in all of their classes.
The focus on both Designated and Integrated ELD affirms the core beliefs of Para Los Niños. It falls on all of us to meet the needs of our ELLs. Our goal is that by fifth grade students will be bilingual and biliterate in English and Spanish.
We encourage all schools serving ELLs to create more inclusive educational environments while continually striving to engage and challenge these children so that they too can achieve their dreams.
Our government has only begun to recognize the unique language needs of ELL students which is why Para Los Niños will continue to advance this vital conversation locally and nationally. And, in cooperation with their families, we will continue to provide our students with positive educational opportunities to help them achieve their dreams.