Students need to have their identity and culture affirmed as a starting point for further learning. They need to see the connections between who they are, what they value, and what they are learning in school in order to make sense of the learning and integrate it into their whole being.[1]

This page serves as a reference for teachers; it will help us to understand the difference between ELD and ESL students while identifying language goals for them. I have added some useful tips, bits and pieces of information, things to remember and some suggestions for in the classroom.The diversity in Ontario means that a significant and growing proportion of Ontario students arrive in English-language schools as English language learners - that is, students who are learning the language of instruction at the same time as they are learning the curriculum.[2] This means that as a teacher, we are responsible for knowing how to approach teaching English language learners and acquiring as much information about them as possible.

What is the Difference Between ELD and ESL?
English Literacy Development (ELD) programs are for students whose first language is other than English or is a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs are most often from countries in which their access to education has been limited, and they have had limited opportunities to develop language and literacy skills in any language. Schooling in their countries of origin has been inconsistent, disrupted or even completely unavailable throughout the years that these children would otherwise have been in school. As a result, they arrive in Ontario schools with significant gaps in their education.

English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are for students whose first language is other than English or is a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs have had educational opportunities to develop age-appropriate first-language literacy skills.[3]

What Knowledge and Skills Do We Want English Language Learners to Acquire?
  • use English to communicate effectively in a variety of social settings;
  • use English to achieve academically in all subject areas;
  • take charge of their own learning, independently and in groups;
  • select and use effective learning strategies;
  • integrate confidently into mainstream courses;
  • use English effectively to advocate for themselves in all areas of their lives;
  • make a successful transition to their chosen postsecondary destination (work, apprenticeship, college, university);
  • function effectively in a society increasingly committed to the use of information technology;
  • use critical-literacy and critical-thinking skills to interpret the world around them;
  • participate fully in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of their communities and of Canada.[4]

To achieve these goals, we must integrate several skills such as language and literacy with the concepts of the subject being taught along with critical thinking skills. The curriculum strands of ESL and ELD include Listening and Speaking, Reading, Writing and Socio-Cultural competence and Media Literacy.[5]

DID YOU KNOW?
  • ELLs with limited prior schooling lack academic experiences, but not life experiences. They bring a richness of international understanding and experience that enhance the education of the entire school community.[6]
  • Some varieties of English are very different - not only in pronunciation or accent but also in vocabulary and sentence structure - from the English required for success in Ontario schools. Some varieties are so different from standard English that many linguists consider them to be languages in their own right.[7]
  • ELLs with limited prior schooling must cover approximately two academic years I each year to catch up to their age peers.[8]
  • Second-language learners in English-language schools “benefit academically, socially, and emotionally when they are encouraged to develop and maintain proficiency in their first language while they are learning English. Language skills and conceptual knowledge are readily transferable from one language to another.[9]

Things to Remember
Some academic factors affecting ELL with limited prior schooling:
Students might think:
-I have so much to say, but can only say it in my first language
-My teacher is as foreign to me as I am to him (or her)
-I want to learn how to read and write like other people my age
-I always wanted to go to school
-I wish I could show more about what I understand so my teacher would know I am smart[10]
First Impressions are important so read over the class list ahead of time and learn to pronounce unfamiliar names.


For some students, it is a challenge to trust any authority figure. Learners need an understanding teacher who sets clear boundaries, has high expectations for them and believes in their ability to learn.[11]

Teachers Can:

-provide a consistent, safe place in which to learn, with clear parameters, where values of equity and inclusion are evident and demonstrated

-ensure that learning environments reflect the diversity of the learners, so that all students can see themselves represented in their classrooms

-recognize that the learner`s needs go beyond academic needs
-learn about geographical, linguistic and cultural backgrounds of students through reading, settlement resources, and positive, informal interaction with students
-confer with other subject teachers to monitor progress, share information and ideas, and ensure appropriate degrees of challenge for students
-establish peer buddy groups, perhaps related to first language, and monitor relationships to ensure that the relationships are beneficial for all[12]

Modification of some of all curriculum expectations in all subject areas, as needed, to provide appropriate challenges and opportunities that accelerate


We should provide guidance and support for making transitions (e.g. Grade 5 to 6, 8 to 9, and secondary and beyond)[13] Suggestions
Assessment for learning: Ongoing assessment allows the teacher to monitor student progress while targeting and modifying instruction to support the student’s individual learning needs.


Some assessment tools: teacher observation, cumulative checklists, true/false listening quizzes, role plays, cloze exercises, matching exercises, sequence exercises, draw and label tasks, dialogue journals, oral responses, problem solving, making booklets, response journals, portfolios for writing, reading or a collection of student work from all subject areas.[14]

Assessment of learning:**


Achievement Chart Categories
Sample Activity
Knowledge and Understanding:
-Subject-specific content acquired in each grade (knowledge) and the comprehension of its meaning and significance (understanding)
-Language Experience Story: Find five words in the story that name things in our classroom
-Classify pictures or objects related to weather
-Match classroom objects with their pictures
-Make a list of things you have on your desk
Thinking:
-The use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes
-Give an opinion as to whether you can believe everything that is said in an advertisement
-Compare characters in two books using a Venn diagram
-Create a T-shirt logo to illustrate diversity (with teacher support)
-Make a list of five things that are big and five things that are small
Communication:
-The conveying of meaning through various forms
-Sequence pictures to retell a story or event
-Show all the actions you use when you move your body
Application:
-The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts
-Use pictures and words from a word wall to write a story
-If someone from our class were going to your country, find all the things on the word wall that they should take with them
-Write a new pattern book based on one read in class[15]


Show me what it is.
Teachers can:
-use picture books, effective visuals, age-appropriate informational text and media, and real objects to introduce vocabulary and illustrate concepts (e.g. magazine pictures, photos, posters, flyers, brochures, advertisements, forms, timetables, schedules, real objects, money, models, maps);
-include orientation and life skills
Show me how to do it.
Teachers can:
-read and interact with appropriate texts, beginning with talk and moving to reading and writing - begin with language experience;
-use a variety of simple graphic organizers;
-provide explicit and clear directions;
-address safety issues explicitly;
-model and correct selectively, as making mistakes is part of learning a new language
Help me do it.
Teachers can:
-provide targeted instruction;
-build background knowledge and explore prior knowledge;
-use techniques such as songs, music, drama ad reader’s theatre for both junior and senior level students;
-support the use of L1 for learning;
-use visual supports (e.g., word walls, labelling)
Let me try it on my own.
Teachers can:
-have students work in a variety of groupings: small groups, partners, individually;
-design meaningful tasks that are achievable by students;
-use technology to support language and literacy.[16]



  1. ^
    Literacy for Learning: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario, 2000, p.18.
  2. ^
    The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development, 2007 p. 3.
  3. ^
    English Language Learners/ESL and ELD Programs and Services: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Elementary and Secondary Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12, 2007, 2.5.1 and 2.3.2.
  4. ^ The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development, 2007. p. 4.
    >
  5. ^
    The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development, 2007. p. 16.
  6. ^ Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.8.
    >
  7. ^ English Language Learners/ESL and ELD Programs and Services: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Elementary and Secondary Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12, 2007, 1.2.
    >
  8. ^ Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.14.
    >
  9. ^ The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development: A Resource Guide, 2001, p.10.
  10. ^ **
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.9.
  11. ^
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.17.
  12. ^ **
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.11.
  13. ^ **
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.13.
  14. ^
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.26.
  15. ^
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.30.
  16. ^
    Supporting English Language Learners with Limited Prior Schooling: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 3 to 12, p.40.