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Services for English Language Learners (ELL)

October 20, 2021
Special Education

If a student communicates in a language other than English, the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) may identify the student as an English Language Learner (ELL).

Identifying an ELL Student

When a student is enrolled in a New York City public school, the family will be asked to fill out a Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS) to determine the student’s English Language proficiency with the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL). Depending on the results of that test, the student may be identified as an English Language Learner (ELL).

Every spring, the student’s English language development will be measured with the NYS English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). There are five possible results of the NYSESLAT:

  1. Entering
  2. Emerging
  3. Transitioning
  4. Expanding
  5. Commanding

There are three ways for the student to be considered proficient in English, or no longer an ELL student:

  1. Score of “commanding,” or
  2. Score of “expanding” and a level 3 or above on the grade 3 to 8 NYS ELA exam (grades 3-8), or
  3. Score of “expanding” and a score of 65 or above on the NYS ELA Regents exam

For up to two years after being considered proficient, your child will be a “former ELL” and will still be eligible for ELL services.

Programs and Services

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) provides three different programs for ELLs: English as a New Language, Transitional Bilingual Education, and Dual Language. You can choose which program you would like for your child, regardless of what program your zoned school offers.

English as a New Language (ENL)

  • Every student identified as an ELL will receive ENL instruction
  • Students are taught only in English.

Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE):

  • Instruction is provided in both English and the student’s  home language.
  • As the student develops his/her English language skills, home language instruction will be phased out.

Dual Language (DL):

  • The goal of the program is bilingualism.
  • Target language of the program is based on demographics of the school and district.
  • Classes will be 50% in English, 50% in the target language.
  • Half of the students are ELLs and half are not. Priority for enrollment will be given to ELLs.

The Transitional Bilingual Education and Dual Language Programs are optional.