Glossary of ELL Terms

  • ACCESS: is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains.

    Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. The language ability required for verbal face-to-face communication.
    CALP: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. The language ability required for academic achievement.
    Castañeda v. Pickard: On June 23, 1981, the Fifth Circuit Court issued a decision that is the seminal post-Lau decision concerning education of language minority students. The case established a three-part test to evaluate the adequacy of a district's program for ELL students: (1) is the program based on an educational theory recognized as sound by some experts in the field or is considered by experts as a legitimate experimental strategy; (2) are the programs and practices, including resources and personnel, reasonably calculated to implement this theory effectively; and (3) does the school district evaluate its programs and make adjustments where needed to ensure language barriers are actually being overcome? [648 F.2d 989 (5th Cir., 1981)]
    Content-based English as a Second Language: This approach makes use of instructional materials, learning tasks, and classroom techniques from academic content areas as the vehicle for developing language, content, cognitive and study skills. English is used as the medium of instruction.
    DRA: The Developmental Reading Assessment provides teachers with a method for assessing and documenting primary students’ development as readers over time within a literature-based instructional reading program. The DRA is designed to be used in K-3 classrooms with rich literate environments. The assessments are conducted during one-on-one reading conferences as children read specially selected assessment texts. A set of 20 stories, which increase in difficulty, are used for the assessment. The DRA evaluates two major aspects of reading: accuracy of oral reading and comprehension through reading and retelling of narrative stories. Both aspects of reading are critical to independence as a reader. Questions pertaining to concepts about print are also included in the assessment with lower leveled texts.
    Dual Language Program: Also known as two-way or developmental, the goal of these bilingual programs is for students to develop language proficiency in two languages by receiving instruction in English and another language in a classroom that is usually comprised of half native English speakers and half native speakers of the other language.

    EDL — Evaluación del Desarrollo de la Lectura: Developmental Reading Assessment (Spanish language version).
    EL: English Learner. A national-origin-minority student who is limited-English-proficient. This term is often preferred over limited-English-proficient (LEP) as it highlights accomplishments rather than deficits.
    ELP: English Language Proficiency
    ESL: English as a Second Language is a program or techniques, methodology and special curriculum designed to teach ELL students English language skills, which may include listening, speaking, reading, writing, study skills, content vocabulary, and cultural orientation. ESL instruction is usually in English with little use of native language.
    Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974: This civil rights statute prohibits states from denying equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin. The statute specifically prohibits states from denying equal educational opportunity by the failure of an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs. [20 U.S.C. §1203(f)].
    FEP: Fluent (or fully) English Proficient.
    Highly Qualified Teacher: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that, by the end of the 2005-2006 school year all teachers in core academic subjects must be highly qualified in the areas of teaching assignments. All teachers in programs supported by Title I funds or newly hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year must be highly qualified at the time of employment. Teachers are considered to be highly qualified if they 1) have a bachelor’s degree; 2) have a full State certification; and 3) have demonstrated subject-matter competence in the area(s) taught.
    Language Dominance: Refers to the measurement of the degree of bilingualism, which implies a comparison of the proficiencies in two or more languages.
    Language Proficiency: Refers to the degree to which the student exhibits control over the use of language, including the measurement of expressive and receptive language skills in the areas of phonology, syntax, vocabulary, and semantics and including the areas of pragmatics or language use within various domains or social circumstances. Proficiency in a language is judged independently and does not imply a lack of proficiency in another language.
    Lau v. Nichols:  A class action suit brought by parents of non-English-proficient Chinese students against the San Francisco Unified School District. In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that identical education does not constitute equal education under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court ruled that the district must take affirmative steps to overcome educational barriers faced by the non-English speaking Chinese students in the district. [414 U.S. 563 (1974)].

    LEP: Limited-English-Proficient. (See EL) .
    NEP: Non-English-Proficient.
    No Child Left Behind: NCLB was signed into law January 8, 2002.  It is the latest revision of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The overall purpose of the law is to ensure that each child in America is able to meet the high learning standards of the state where he or she lives.
    Notice of Enrollment / Parent Notification Letter: The permission of a parent to enroll their child in an ELL program, or the refusal to allow their child to enroll in such a program, after the parent is provided effective notice of the educational options and the district's educational recommendation.
    Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE):  the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) measures the achievement of grade 11 students using three components: ISBE-developed writing, science, and social science assessments; the ACT Assessment which includes reading, English, mathematics, and science tests; and two WorkKeys assessments. More information is available here.
    Sheltered English Instruction: An instructional approach used to make academic instruction in English understandable to ELL students. In the sheltered classroom, teachers use physical activities, visual aids, and the environment to teach vocabulary for concept development in mathematics, science, social studies, and other subjects.
    SUPERA: Spanish-language achievement test, is part of the TerraNova assessment series. This parallel version gives you the full benefit of TerraNova's comprehensive assessments with results that are based on the same scale as English-language results. You get a clear picture of student achievement regardless of the language of the test.
    Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VI prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. The Title VI regulatory requirements have been interpreted to prohibit denial of equal access to education because of a language minority student's limited proficiency in English.
    Transitional Bilingual Education Program: A Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program is offered whenever there are 20 or more ELL students with a common language enrolled in one school.  TBE programs must be taught by a certificated teacher who is fluent in one of the native languages spoken by the students. ELL students in the TBE programs receive ESL and native language instruction in subject areas with transition into English instruction as their English language proficiency increases.
    The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education also offers a Glossary of Terms for Programs for English Language Learners.   
    Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) offers an on-line Dictionary of Educational Terms.