Teaching and Learning » English Language Learners

English Language Learners



An English language learner (often abbreviated to ELL, ESL, ESOL, or LEP) is a person who is learning the English language in addition to his or her native language.  The instruction and assessment of students, the acceptance of their cultural background, and the attitudes of classroom teachers towards ELL students have all been found to be factors in ELL student achievement.

Guidelines for Identifying English Learners

Every school district in Missouri must have procedures in place to identify students who meet the federal definition of an English learner. As stated in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, an English learner is an individual who is:

A)  age 3-21

B)  who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary or secondary school

C)  (i) who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English; (ii)(I) who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and (II) 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; (iii) 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

D)  whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual – (i) the ability to meet the state’s proficient level of achievement on the State assessments …; (ii) the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or (iii) the opportunity to participate fully in society (DESE).

The obligation not to discriminate based on race, color, or national origin requires public schools to take affirmative steps to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) students, now more commonly known as known as English Learner (EL) students or English Language Learners (ELLs), can meaningfully participate in educational programs and services, and to communicate information to LEP parents in a language they can understand.” --Office of Civil Rights (see LINKS)