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English as a Second Language




Edmonton Catholic Schools has experienced a significant increase of ESL students in the district over the past few years. The needs and trends within this population have changed and as a district we must respond to:


  • increase in students entering our district illiterate in both English and their first language with interrupted or no schooling in their first language.
  • growing concern in our schools over the need to better understand the diverse needs of the cultural communities now immigrating and registering in our schools.
  • need for literacy benchmarks for second language acquisition and professional development for teachers to understand these benchmarks and how to move students along continuum.
  • need to review reception of ESL families into our district/ intake protocol.
  • analyze achievement results, and drop out rates of ESL students in our district.

Trends over the past four years indicate the growing need for instructional sup​port for our beginner level English language learner. Research indicates it will take 5-7 years for these children to acquire the language skills required to successfully complete grade level appropriate learner outcomes (J. Cummins, 2001). Concern is with the growing trend of intermediate level students not advancing to the next stage of literacy development. This has implications on student achievement.

Our challenge in ECS for the next three years is to provide innovative programming that develops literacy skills in all content area learning for the intermediate students as well as BICS (basic interpersonal communication skills) as quickly as possible. Through professional development and on going first language support from the Liaison workers as a team, we can promote increased literacy and fluency enabling our English language learners to reach the highest level of English literacy.

ESL Program Goals:

Assess district need for literacy class for junior high age appropriate students whose needs surpass the instructional design of regular ESL programs in the community school.

  • Develop criteria for program, benchmarks for entry/exit.
  • Develop literacy program based on sound ESL and literacy pedagogical theory and research.
  • Identify, monitor and track progress and student achievement.
  • Students would return to the community school once ESL needs could be met in their community school.
  • Utilize data to determine priority areas for resource allocation and evaluation.

Build instructional capacity, district wide in the delivery of responsive effective programs for ESL learners.

  • Build capacity of both ESL teachers and content area teachers of best practices that are outcome based, differentiated and focus on instruction that promote and improve ESL student achievement in literacy, numeracy and all content area curricula.
  • ESL programming must be based on research, outcome based instruction, assessment, benchmarks and criteria for identification.

Access and monitor the level of ESL support international students are receiving district wide.

Provide academic guidelines for the admission of international students into Edmonton Catholic Schools.

Establish district intake protocol for the admission of all ESL students:

  • assess level of first and English language proficiency,
  • orient parents in their first language with the assistance of the Liaison workers to Edmonton Catholic and Canadian education system,
  • provide information on educational expectation and responsibilities in families first language.

Provide equitable support for Immigration Children and their families.

  • Liaison workers assist school staff to gain a better understanding of immigrant family needs and their stages of integration into mainstream Canadian culture.

  • Provide appropriate referrals to:
    • various community agencies
    • government programs
    • other settlement and adaptation services
    • work closely with school counselors, administrators, teachers, school medical personnel, social workers and law enforcement officers to help with educational and settlement issues.

  • Maintain interagency network with: Alberta EducationCitizenship and ImmigrationMennonite Centre for NewcomersMill Woods Welcoming Centre, and Catholic Social Services in providing support services for immigrant families.