English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education
Here, as elsewhere in our country, not all students in public school speak English. In Washington, these students get support from the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program while they learn English. Some schools have specialized programs where students learn English at the same time that they receive help to maintain their first language.
English Language Learners (ELL) face a variety of challenges, including learning academic subject matter at the same time they are acquiring a new language. They must also find their way in an unfamiliar culture.
Washington schools are challenged to find enough certified ELL teachers. To compensate for this lack of certified ELL teachers, school districts train teachers in the necessary methods to educate ELL students.
A majority of our schools only offer English as a Second Language programs, but some offer bilingual instruction. These schools combine students who only speak English with those who are learning English. Long-term studies show that bilingual students achieve greater academic success than do their monolingual counterparts.
Bilingual programs have a good reputation for the academic advantage they give each student. It is important for parents to know about the benefits that bilingual education programs offer.
Our educational system has the obligation to help all students in Washington learn English and to help students conserve their home language. Schools need family support as well. This support is fundamental for students to gain the skills and knowledge they need for success in the future.
The Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA) is used to determine English language levels and student eligibility for English language services. Currently, this is the only assessment of reading, writing, speaking, and listening knowledge and skills used in Washington state for English language proficiency for English language learners.
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