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Language Acquisition and Development

The primary purpose of Language Acquisition programs is to help students acquire proficiency in English. English Learners should receive instruction in other subjects and should be assessed in these other subjects in their primary language until they achieve proficiency.

Teacher Preparation: Limited English Proficient Students
California students have greater language diversity than those in any other state or nation, and our state must meet the challenge of ensuring equal access for all. While knowledge of the primary language of the student is desirable, with the ever-increasing number of languages spoken by California students, the most basic need for teachers of these students is to acquire the language development (ELD) skills necessary to teach English to English Learners. Teacher preparation in California is going through changes as the demographics of our schools’ children changes. The CLAD/BCLAD certificates offer one route for the state’s current workforce to meet the needs of our changing classrooms. New teachers learn these critical teacher competencies – required for working for English Language Learners – in their preparation program.

English Plus
Laws and regulations that restrict the language of instruction are contrary to students’ educational well being. English is the primary language of political, social and economic communication in the United States and students must be provided with access to programs which result in Standard English proficiency and core curricular knowledge, regardless of their primary language or dialect.

Language Acquisition Programs Including Bilingual Programs
All students are entitled to equal access to all educational opportunities. Students without English proficiency are denied equal access unless appropriate educational support is provided. Language acquisition programs have two goals - language skills development and content learning. Bilingual programs should focus on proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing English. Before students achieve proficiency, schools should provide meaningful instruction in all curricular areas in the primary language.

Instructional Materials
English Learners (ELs) have specific learning needs. Research suggests it takes a minimum of 3-7 years to acquire a second language. EL students’ instructional materials should consider all levels of language proficiency, with special attention to Beginning, Early Intermediate, and Intermediate levels. Students’ scores on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) and the educational teacher’s expertise should determine the proficiency level. To provide the highest quality instruction to EL students, the adopted instructional materials should meet their specific academic and linguistic needs. EL teachers must have access to the highest quality instructional materials and professional development. All instructional materials used for ELs’ literacy development should align to
California’s English Language Arts and the English Language Development standards.

Testing/Assessment: Assessment of Student Learning
Assessment of student growth should be ongoing and comprehensive with the primary purpose of supporting learning. EL students should be given mandated tests in their primary languages until English fluency is attained. It is the responsibility of the State Department of Education to provide the state-mandated assessments in the child’s primary language.

(May 2017)

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association