Skip to main content
You are currently in a sub-section of

English as a Second Language K-12

The goal of an ESL program is to improve the students’ level of English. ESL classes teach different language skills, depending on students’ English abilities, interests, and needs. All programs teach the following: conversational English, grammar, reading, listening comprehension, writing, and vocabulary.

Program Overview

Sheltered English Instruction

Sheltered English Instruction

Sheltered English instruction is an instructional approach that engages ELs in developing grade-level content-area knowledge, academic skills, and increased English proficiency. In sheltered English classes, teachers use clear, direct, simple English and a wide range of scaffolding strategies to communicate meaningful input in the content area to students. Learning activities that connect new content to students’ prior knowledge, that require collaboration among students, and that spiral through curriculum material, offer ELs the grade-level content instruction of their English-speaking peers, while adapting lesson delivery to suit their English proficiency level.

Sheltered English instruction in the the WCSD contains the following four components.

  1. English language development instruction is taught by certified teachers who have an ESL endorsement.
  2. Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) is used to facilitate the acquisition of cognitive academic language proficiency.  SDAIE includes a focus on advanced English literacy skills and sheltered English strategies in order to provide comprehensible grade-level core curriculum.  This instruction is taught by certified teachers who have an ESL and/or bilingual endorsement.
  3. Primary language support may be provided by teachers and/or teacher assistants, primary language materials, peer support, etc.
  4. A multicultural component is used to ensure that each student feels his/her culture is positively represented at the school and in its curriculum.
Instructional Goals

To meet academic achievement standards for grade promotion and to become proficient in English.

Identification / Home Language Survey

The Home Language Survey (HLS) is included on the school registration form and is completed by the parent/guardian when a student is registered. The HLS does not identify the student as an English learner. Rather, its purpose is to identify those students who may be potentially designated as English learners so that each student can be assessed in the domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing through the state adopted English Language Proficiency instrument (currently WIDA).

When a parent or guardian responds to any of the following HLS questions listing a language other than English, the student is assessed using the WiDA Screener to determine if s/he qualifies for English as a Second Language (ESL).

  1. What language do you prefer for school-to-home information?
  2. Which language does your child most frequently speak at home?
  3. Which language do adults in your home most frequently use when speaking with your child?
  4. Which language(s) does your child currently understand or speak? Do not include language(s) learned in a foreign language program.

Purpose of the Home Language Survey:

  • Identifies a student whose home language is not English; and,
  • Identifies a student who may be tested on the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English because a language other than English is spoken at home.
  • The English proficiency test determines if your student needs language support services along with the regular education program.
  • Your child is entitled to these language support services as a civil right.

School Responsibilities

  • At registration, Utah uses a standard form of the Home Language Survey that identifies a student with a language other than English, or who comes from an environment where a non-English language is used.
  • Students must be tested for these services within the first 30 days of school year or within two weeks of entry into school, if after the first 30 days. 

Utah is a member of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium (WIDA) and as a member uses the initial ELP screener/assessment (WIDA Screener) to confirm EL Status: students who score a composite of ELP level 1-4. Those who do not quality for language services receive a composite score of 5 on the WIDA Screener.

The composite score of level 5 is used for 1st through 12 grade to determine fluency. The beginning Kindergarten assessment is based on a 1-30 point range and students who score 29 or 30 points are considered fluent at the Kindergarten level. 

If the student qualifies for English as a Second Language (ESL), the parent is notified of the WIDA Screener results and the placement of the student in the ESL program.  Parents have the right to refuse ESL, however, if they do, this decision must be documented in writing each year the student is enrolled in the Washington County School District. Although ESL services are refused, the school is still responsible to ensure that the student is progressing in their academic English language acquisition.

Prior to creating the student’s class schedule, the student’s English language proficiency must be assessed.  To accomplish this, it may be necessary to have the student return at a later time after registration to be tested. Once the ALS testing is completed, the class schedule will be finalized and the student may begin attending.

Program Components

Students who qualify for ESL are placed in an English language development class that is taught by a teacher who has the Utah English as a Second Language endorsement.  This will help to ensure that ELLs receive instruction that is above and beyond that which is provided for native English-speaking students.  These services must include the following activities as organized by proficiency level.

Levels 1-4

  • 30 minutes daily of English language development. 
    • Teacher-lead English language development focusing on the components of literacy:
      • Phonemic Awareness
      • Phonics
      • Fluency 
      • Vocabulary Development
      • Comprehension
  • Teachers will also continually review their ELLs’ English language proficiency in relation to grade-level requirements and adjust the strategies implemented during instruction to reflect the students’ increasing English proficiency skills.
  • Students are assessed annually using the WiDA ACCESS assessment. These results are used to determine the ALS placement for the coming school year. 

Level 5

  • Students are enrolled in the appropriate grade-level and content-area classes. 
  • The academic progress of these students is formally monitored twice a year for two years.
Exiting Procedures

In Utah the reclassification or exit criteria is based on the following two elements: 1) English Learners receive a composite score of 5 on the annual WIDA assessment based on the increased rigor of the revised WIDA ACCESS for ELs 2.0; and, 2) a teacher-student-parent conference is initiated to discuss the necessary support for the student’s ability to make continuous progress within 30 days of receiving the WIDA scores. An Exit Rubric will be used by the team to develop written recommendations for continued support on the following four indicators:

 The student:

  1. Maintains progress as related to the increasing challenges of academic language in the content;
  1. Accomplish learning tasks appropriate to grade level content standards, through both productive and receptive language functions that is speaking, writing and listening, reading);
  1. Develops persistence as well as intra and intrapersonal skills to support self-regulation and prosocial behaviors; and
  1. Perform well in a range of educational opportunities, and courses such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), designated honor courses, and/or programs designated as Gifted and Talented.

Source: Joint guidance from Division of Civil Rights, Department of Justice; and Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education – September 3, 2016.

Select one of the Topics to the left to expand for the information regarding it.