English Language Learners

English Language Learners (ELL) come from a range of cultural backgrounds and bring with them a variety of educational, social and personal experiences. English Language Learners may have recently immigrated to Canada or they may have been born in Canada and live in homes in which the primary spoken language is not English. 

English as a Second Language (ESL) programming is provided to assist students who have insufficient fluency in English to achieve grade level expectations in English language arts and other subjects. Support for English Language Learners depends on the needs of the students, the nature of the school’s programming and the number of English Language Learners in the school. English Language Learners in elementary and junior high schools receive additional language and content instruction from their teachers while placed in age-appropriate classrooms with their peers. High school English Language Learners meet with counsellors to design a program which accommodates them in an ELL instruction block, options and/or core curriculum subjects. Beginning language learners may also receive small group instruction for a portion of the day and/or support from teacher assistants.

When an English Language Learner arrives at school, information is gathered about English language proficiency, academic achievement and recent experiences that can affect schooling. This information, plus any other documentation, is used to place the student in the appropriate grade and to determine what type of ESL support is needed. Although all English Language Learners receive report cards, grades are not reported in those areas in which language proficiency interferes with meeting graded outcomes. 

High School/Middle School ESL Refugee Intake Centre

Refugee English language learners face significant challenges as a result of the circumstances of their migration and their limited opportunities for schooling prior to coming to Canada. These students arrive with little or no literacy in their first language, significant gaps in their academic knowledge and social/emotional needs. They require instructional strategies and interventions beyond what is available through regular high school classes and general ESL supports.

Located at Wilson Middle School and Winston Churchill High School we have Intake Programs for refugee students. The intake programs assist in assessment of students to determine literacy levels and years previous formal school. Students then receive intensive literacy and numeracy instruction. Students are taught in a supportive environment that also assists in their cultural and emotional adjustment. When students have a solid foundation they receive a supported transition to regular ESL and curricular programming in their home school.

For more information go to: http://www.teachingrefugees.com/ 

Admissions and Registration

The Administrative Professional in Instructional Services registers all students new to Lethbridge School District No. 51 who are NOT Canadian citizens except those who are fee-paying students approved through the International Student registration process:

  • Landed immigrants (Permanent Residents)
  • Children of individuals who are lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent or temporary residence, or non-residents

To register, you will need to provide legal proof of your child’s name, date of birth, and citizenship status in Canada. The following documents are acceptable:

  • Permanent resident card or Confirmation of Permanent Residence or Record of Landing
  • Parent’s valid Work permit or Study Permit
  • Student’s Study Permit (International students)

If you are on a work or study permit you will also need to bring your child’s birth certificate. You will also need to bring information that confirms your address (e.g. a driver’s license or telephone bill).

Lethbridge Family Services – Immigrant Services provides settlement support to newcomers to Canada that promotes independence, integration and active participation in Canadian society. The School Based Settlement Support Workers work directly with the school district staff to help newcomer students be successful in school. For more information see http://www.lfsfamily.ca/IS/immigrant.php

Language Proficiency Levels

Students who are identified as English Language Learners are assessed regularly by their teachers. Progress in acquiring the English language is measured by using English Language Proficiency Benchmarks. Progress in listening, speaking, reading and writing is reported on both the regular report card and an English Language Progress report.

Students with Limited Formal Schooling have a separate set of benchmarks. After they are proficient in Level 1 (Beginning or Acquiring) they can begin the process of transitioning to regular ESL programming. 

English Language Learners are identified as:

  • Limited Formal Schooling Benchmarks
    • Early
    • Emerging
    • Acquiring
    • Transitioning
  • Level 1 – Beginning
  • Level 2 – Developing
  • Level 3 – Expanding
  • Level 4 – Bridging
  • Level 5 – Extending

For more information see http://education.alberta.ca/teachers/program/esl.aspx

For information on ESL programming, supports and services please contact:

Ann Muldoon, Director of Inclusive Education


Anna Ell, Administrative Professional, Instructional Services

Phone: 403-380-5298