Frequently Asked Questions - Facts








             English as a New Language

         ENL: Frequently Asked Questions  


    Q.    Don’t you have to speak the students’ language to teach them English?


    1. No!  ESL methodology uses English to teach English.  Many ESL classes are composed of students speaking a dozen or more different languages-even if a teacher could speak all of the languages, to do so would probably be chaotic. For example, this district has had ESL students from Egypt, China, Russia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. We do provide teachers with charts/videos containing key words in several languages here: 





         Q. How on earth do you teach someone whose language you don’t speak?


     A. Comprehensible Input-we find ways to make the language comprehensible to the student (by simplifying, adding context clues, scaffolding, gesturing, etc.) so that it can serve as input to the language-learning part of the brain. The human brain seems to be wired, somehow, to acquire language.  Give it plenty of data, and it will sort out the patterns of language.


    You acquired English as a child through comprehensible input-people used language around you and helped you understand its meaning.  ENL students can acquire English in much the same way. (Actually you can still acquire a new language this way, too, if you are in the right environment.) Comprehensible Input with Stephen Krashen   

         The Natural Approach




    Q. What does an ENL Teacher do, anyway?


    A.  An ENL Teacher is a Language Development Expert who teaches literacy (ELA) :Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and American Culture

    ENL teachers follow the NYS ESL Common Core Curriculum and teach 21st Century skills. 



    Q. Is ENL a support or a remedial service?


    A. No. ENL is a developmental English Language Arts program. ESL programs have NYS ENL (New Language Arts) Progressions and their own annual  assessment (NYSESLAT). Please see NYS  Common Core curriculums  on this site.The ENL teachers will integrate literacy and content to teach language. In a coteaching situation,  ESL teachers and classroom teachers co-plan and co-teach lessons together equally. The SIOP Model is often used in a co-teaching situation. (See our SIOP Tools teacher page for more information about SIOP)




    The ENL Teacher administers the annual NYS ENL Assessment called the NYSESLAT.  This is a four part N.Y.S. Assessment given over four days each April/May to all ENL students in NYS. It consists of Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening sections. The scores are used to determine the language proficiency level for the following school year: Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding and Commanding.
















     (See our NYSESLAT Page.)




    Q. Do ENL students need ENL services every day?

    There are specific weekly time requirements for ELLs depending on their proficiency level: Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding & Commanding.  



    Minutes can be distributed across the week as scheduling allows (as opposed to a certain number daily), keeping in mind the best interest of the student.



    Q. Where are the NYS ENL ( New Language Arts) Progressions located?


    A. Proposed (but not yet approved) New Language Arts Progressions are located here:                                                                                                       


    Q. Do ENL students have testing accommodations?

    A. Yes. They are located here:




    Q. How are ENL students identified?

    A. The procedure:



    Q. Does the Dignity for All Act apply to ELLs?

     Yes. The Dignity for All Act took effect on July 1,2012.

    It seeks to provide students with a safe and supportive environment

    free from discrimination, intimidation,taunting, harassment and bullying

    on school property, a school bus, and/or at a school function. 



    Q. Does an ENL Teacher Also Serve As a Translator or Interpreter?


    A. No! The ENL teacher teaches the English language and the knowledge/skills your child needs to be successful in school.                                               


    A Translator or Interpreter is a completely different job description requiring the person to be bilingual and fluent in a specific language. Translators are hired by the school district on a part-time basis to translate key documents like report cards, student assessments and other school communications to parents into the student’s home language, interpret during parent conferences and home visits, and assist at Open Houses. They may also be used to translate NYS assessments into rare languages.                           



    Please click on the link below to view the ENL FAQ Page -NYS Bilingual Education Departmen


    Related Files

    doc What does an ESL Teacher Do? (doc file - 61 KB)


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    Related Links

    » Supporting English Language Learners 
    A Pocket Guide for Administrators