contact info home page
» FAQs
» Academic Vocabulary
» Getting Started With Entering ESL Students
» Laura's Latest Links
» ELLs and the Common Core
» Helpful Resources for Middle & High School ELLs
» Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
» Scaffolding Texts & Tasks for ELLs
» Collaboration & Co-teaching for ELLs
» ESL Program Components, Policies and Procedures
» ESL/NLA: National and Local News
» Teaching Common Core Aligned Math to ELLs

My Resources
My Resources

My Blog
My Blog

Student Resources
Student Resources

My Puzzles
My Puzzles

Parent Resources
Parent Resources

My Calendar
My Calendar

My Slide Shows
My Slide Shows

My Booklist
My Booklist

My Links
My Links

Charles E. Riley Elementary School
269 East 8th Street
Oswego, New York 13126
fax 315-341-2980
email info

My ESL/ENL Page »






    ESL 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.  ESL 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 ESL Teacher do, anyway?

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

ESL teachers follow the NYS Common Core Curriculum and teach content area key concepts and academic vocabulary. 

He/she must be certified in ESL through NYS to teach in New York.



    Q. Is ESL a support or a remedial service?

A. No. ESL is a developmental English Language Arts program. NYS ESL programs  have NYS ESL (New Language Arts) Progressions and their own annual  assessment (NYSESLAT). The ESL teachers will integrate literacy and content to teach language. In a co-teaching situation,  ESL teachers and classroom teachers co-plan and co-teach lessons together equally.  



The ESL Teacher administers the annual NYS ESL Assessment called the NYSESLAT.  This is a four part N.Y.S. Assessment given over four days each April/May to all ESL 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: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and proficient. These levels will soon change to Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding & Commanding. See our NYSESLAT Page.




Q. Do ESL students need ESL services every day?

There are specific weekly time requirements for ELLs depending on their proficiency level.



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


A. New Language Arts Progressions are located here:                                                                                                       


Q. Do ESL students and former ESL students have testing accommodations?

A. Yes. They are located here:




Q. How are ESL 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 ESL Teacher Also Serve As a Translator or Interpreter?


A.No, an ESL teacher teaches (English Language Arts)                                                                                   


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.  


Q. How do we distinguish between a language difference and a disability?

A. The ESL teacher’s role is key when the school is determining whether a student is challenged by a language difference vs. a learning disability. The ESL teacher can provide valuable expertise in this area including questions to ask and the characteristics of both language differences and learning disabilities:

What to do Before a Formal Referral to SPED for an ELL Student?

ELL Checklist for IEP Team

Differentiating Language Difference from Language Disability

Please click on the links below to view the ESL FAQ Page -NYS Bilingual Education Department and Recent Changes to NYS ESL Programs

Laura Stevens