• Even though English learners have always been present in the United States, many people have questions about ESL.  This page will attempt to answer some of those questions and will be expanded upon as new questions arise from parents, teachers, administrators, and other community members.  
     
    What does ESL stand for?

    ESL stands for English as a Second Language.  Many of us have studied another language in our lifetimes usually as an elective in high school.  In the context of a US high school, these languages are most likely being taught as a foreign language.  This means that the language being taught is not a language that the student will hear very often or see primarily in the community once they leave that classroom.  In contrast, when a second language is taught, this means that the language of instruction will be heard, seen, or commonly used outside of the classroom.  In most parts of the US, especially in Mississippi, English is the primary language used for communication in public contexts.  For our students who may be visiting from another country or who speak another language at home, English is a second language for them.  
     
    Who is an ESL student?
     
     
    As defined in ESEA Section 8101(20):
     
    Tthe term “English learner,” when used with respect to an individual, means an individual —
         (A) who is aged 3 through 21;
         (B) who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school 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; or
         (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; and
         (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 challenging State academic standards;
              (ii) the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is
              English; or
              (iii) the opportunity to participate fully in society.

    Can an ESL student be in gifted, special education, etc.

    An ESL student can be dually identified.  This means that they have been identified as eligible for two or more programs.  A student's language status does not affect their eligibility for any other programs.  This means that ESL students can be in gifted and special education, receive speech/language services, and participate in any extracurricular activities that they are interested in and qualified for.  An ESL student is just like any other student, except they are also learning English.
     
    What does ESL instruction look like?
     
    As was mentioned above, ESL instruction can be compared to instruction in most foreign language classrooms.  If you can imagine your high school Spanish, French, etc. class, then you have good idea of what an ESL class looks like.  However, there are some differences.  In some ESL classrooms, there are students from many different levels.  You may have a class with advanced, intermediate, and beginner students all learning together.  This is unlike foriegn language classrooms and most any other class where students are purposely grouped by their level.  Additionally, at the elementary level in our program, students are pulled out to work with ESL staff.  At the middle and high school, students take ESL class as a part of their daily schedule.