Overview of the Program
The purpose of the English Language Learner Program is to provide English language development instruction to limited and non-English speaking students who enter our community and require these services. It is the goal of the program to assist students in becoming full participants in the general education program.
There are many program models for students who are acquiring English as an additional language. Because we serve a population that represents great diversity in language and culture, the ELL program in Millard is a content-based English Language Development (ELD) program in which students are grouped by language ability level. Group assignments are flexible and temporary, changing according to the learners’ needs. Students spend the majority of the school day mainstreamed in the general education program, receiving relevant, meaningful support services from highly trained ELL teachers in ELL classes.
The MPS K-12 English Language Development curriculum has been written by Millard teachers and is aligned to the Nebraska English Language Proficiency Standards (January, 2014). These standards draw on current theory, sound classroom practice, and educational standards from an array of national organizations and states. There is an emphasis on the critical language, knowledge about language, and skills using language that are found in college-and-career-ready standards and that are necessary for English language learners to be successful in schools.
Lessons in the ELL classroom are centered on language functions (what students do with language to accomplish content-specific tasks) and language forms (vocabulary, grammar, and discourse specific to particular content areas or disciplines) which are needed by English learners as they develop competence in the practices associated with English language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science. ELL teachers place an emphasis on building background and developing vocabulary to support students in the core content program. Instructional strategies based on research and practical experiences are used to maximize student involvement in classroom activities.
There is an explicit recognition that language acquisition takes place across the content areas and therefore collaboration among educators is required to enhance and excel the learning experiences of English language learners. Content area teachers and ELL teachers work together to understand and leverage the language and literacy practices used across content areas and to cultivate a deeper knowledge of the disciplinary language that English learners require to be competitive among their native English speaking peers (Understanding Language Initiative, 2012).