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My ENL Page
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» Teaching Language to ELLs in Content-Area Classrooms
» Academic Vocabulary
» ESL Program Components, Policies and Procedures
» Getting Started With Entering ENL Students
» Resources for Working with ELL Parents
» Scaffolding Texts & Tasks for ELLs
» ELLs and the Common Core
» ENL Strategy Videos
» The Language of Math, Science & Social Studies
» Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
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» ENL: National and Local News
» The Same Text at Different Reading Levels

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Charles E. Riley Elementary School
269 East 8th Street
Oswego, New York 13126
fax 315-341-2980
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My ENL Page »




   ENL Frequently Asked Questions  

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

  1. No!  ENL methodology uses English to teach English.  Many ENL 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 ENL students from Egypt, China, Russia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. We do provide first language support, and content teachers can access charts/videos containing key words/phrases 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. UDL (Universal Design for Learning) is another concept recommended.


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.)

Q. What does an ENL Teacher do, anyway?

A.  An ENL Teacher is a Language Development Expert who teaches integrated ENL-Literacy (ELA) :Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Content

ENL teachers follow the NYS Common Core Curriculums  

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


    Q. Is ENL a support or a remedial service?

A. No. ENL Units of Study are a combination of stand alone ENL and integrated ENL/ELA and core content area teaching. NYS ENL programs  have NYS ENL (New Language Arts) Progressions and their own annual  NYS assessment (NYSESLAT). The ENL teachers will integrate literacy and content to teach language. In a co-teaching situation,  ENL teachers and classroom teachers co-plan and co-teach lessons together equally.  



The ENL 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 ENL students in NYS. It consists of integrated Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening questions. The scores are used to determine the language proficiency level for the following school year: Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding & Commanding. 

Q. What can a content teacher do to help ELLs in the content classroom?

A.  Post content and language objectives daily. Post instructions daily. Provide models. Speak slowly and clearly, and avoid slang and idioms. Avoid cursive-print only. Use lots of gestures, visuals and graphic organizers. Pre-teach academic vocabulary with visuals. Provide a word bank of academic vocabulary for tests. Use story maps, sentence starters and sentence frames for writing. Give extra time for completing tests. Provide background knowledge; ELLs come from different cultures and don't have the same background knowledge . Identity Affirmation-value the language and culture of the ELL student.  Use group work and project based learning instead of lecture when possible.

When we learn a new language, we learn conversational language first. Reading, writing and academic language take longer, because  the student is both learning how to use the language and is  also trying to apply it to  academic  subjects. In general, it takes 1-2 years to learn conversational English and 5-7 years to learn academic language. Learning English is in addition to their native language, and is not meant to replace it.

Q. Do ENL students need ENL services every day?

There are specific Units of Study for ELLs depending on their proficiency level.                                                                                                             


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


A. New Language Arts Progressions are located here:                                                                                                       


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

A. Yes



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                                                                                    


A Translator or Interpreter is a completely different job description requiring the person to be bilingual and fluent in a specific language. Translators and Interpreters are hired by the school district 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 ENL teacher’s role is key when the school is determining whether a student is challenged by a language difference vs. a learning disability. The ENL teacher can provide valuable expertise in this area including questions to ask and the characteristics of both language differences and learning disabilities.

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

Laura Stevens