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English as a Second Language

The District of West New York recognizes that the mastery of English Language skills is a prerequisite to effective participation in the state’s educational program. Bilingual education and English As a Second Language (ESL) programs can meet the needs of students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) and facilitate their integration into the regular school curriculum. Therefore, in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Education requirements to ensure equal educational opportunity to every student, and in recognition of the educational needs of ELLs, the district of WNY provides bilingual and ESL language programs for each student identified as an ELL in pre-Kindergarten through grade twelve.

Bilingual and ESL Program Frequently Asked Questions

Q- How are students identified as ELLs?
A- Upon enrollment families of new students complete a home language survey to establish the students’ language classification in order to determine whether the district is required to provide a bilingual or ESL program of instruction. After completing this multi-step process which includes, the home language survey, parent/guardian interview and prior school record’s review, students are registered in the appropriate school.

Q- How will I know the level of English my child knows?
A- After initial identification (see above) students will be tested with the NJ State approved language assessment, WIDA Screener to determine students’ English language proficiency level.

Q- What is the difference between Bilingual and ESL instructional setting?
A- Based on district’s language needs, WNY has a Spanish bilingual program for Spanish speaking students. If a students speaks a language other than Spanish, then the student would be placed in an ESL instructional setting.

Q- How does the bilingual program work?
A- West New York’s Bilingual program spans grades K-12 and includes all content areas, such as science, social studies, math and language arts. In grades K-6, Bilingual classes are self-contained and taught in Spanish and English by a certified Bilingual/ESL teacher. Students remain in one classroom all day except for special subjects such as art, music, physical education, computer classes, and the like where they are integrated with general education students. ELL students participate in enrichment opportunities such as STEAM learning activities and the Gifted and Talented program (if criteria are met).
In grades 7-12, students receive content area instruction in a class period setting by the bilingual/ESL certified personnel in Spanish and English depending on the students’ language proficiency. As in the elementary schools, students receive report card grades equivalent to those given to their monolingual peers. The students are also encouraged to participate in after school athletic and co-curricular activities.

Q- Will the bilingual teacher speak my child’s primary language?
A- West New York’s Bilingual Program is transitional in nature. In this type of program, the objective is to prepare students for a successful transition to the monolingual, English-only program. To this end, the teacher must develop cognitive level skills in the target language. The goal is to make content comprehensible to the students therefore the dominant language of instruction will match the students’ proficiency level.

Q- How does the ESL Program work?
A- To ensure that the district’s ELL students acquire and master the second language (L2), the West New York Board of Education offers, as part of its regular curriculum, a program of English as a Second Language (ESL) in grades K-12 to all ELL students regardless of their first acquired language. Instruction is done in-class in grades K-6 by a certified ESL teacher during the ESL period of 40 minutes minimal duration per day. ELL students whose first language is other than Spanish, and who, thus, are not in the district’s Bilingual program, are pulled out from their monolingual setting and they are integrated in these classes for ESL instruction. In grades 7-12, non Spanish speaking ELL students also receive at least 40 minutes of ESL instruction from an ESL certified teacher.

Q-Will the ESL teacher speak my child’s primary language?
A- No. The target language (English) is taught through the use of instructional activities that reinforce and promote students’ language proficiency levels. The ESL teachers use a wide variety of approaches, activities, contexts, and skill building techniques to create a comprehensive and dynamic language experience. The learning environment is positive and comfortable, encouraging students to use the target language (L2), in meaningful context and/or communication. The ultimate goal will be the successful transition of students from an ESL program into the mainstream program.

Q-How can I as a parent get involved with my child’s learning?
A- Attend Open House and Parents’ Night and other school related functions. In addition, the district of WNY has established a Bilingual Advisory Parent Committee with the goal of providing parents of limited English proficient students a voice and an opportunity to familiarize themselves with educational trends that will affect the ELLs’ academic and language progress.

Q- How do I know when my child is ready to exit the Bilingual/ESL program?
A- Annually, all ELLs are tested with the ACCESS language assessment and need to score an overall proficiency score of 4.5 or greater in order to be considered for exiting. In addition, West New York School District uses multiple criteria where academic review and teachers’ input are considered.

Q- Where should I go if I have any other questions regarding the Bilingual/ESL program?
A- For questions regarding K-6 students and program please contact Yvette Miranda at 201 553-4000 ext. 32101 or via email at ymiranda@wnyschools.net; for questions regarding 7-12 students and program please contact Maddy Miqueli at 201 553-4000 ext. 32109 or via email at mmiqueli@wnyschools.net