English as a New Language (ENL) Program

The English as a New Language (ENL) program at Hamilton Southeastern Schools serves over 1000 students whose first language is other than English. While many of these come from Spanish language backgrounds, there are at least 66 languages represented among our student body from 58 countries across the globe.

The Hamilton Southeastern Schools ENL program is committed to educational excellence and continuous achievement for all English language learners. The goal of the Hamilton Southeastern ENL Program is to raise English proficiency of all students of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) to that of native English speakers at their respective grade levels. The immediate goal is, of course, basic communication skills in English for these students. Equally important longer-range goals include: increased success of LEP students in academic classes, improved social adjustment, cross-cultural understanding, and successful exit from the program.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools consider two different levels of language proficiency. The first level involves Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) used in face-to-face situations. Fluency in these skills can take two to three years to develop. The second level often called Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) includes being able to read, write, and perform within a content-area classroom at grade level. These skills may take longer (four to eight years) to develop. Without fluency at both skill levels, the language minority student cannot succeed in school without special support from mainstream and ENL Staff.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools employs certified teachers, as well as instructional assistants, to provide direct ENL instructional services in the program. The instructors also may assist or train other staff to work with ENL students in the mainstream. Training opportunities include in-class modeling, consultative services, or Department of Education conferences.

ENL services are based on individual needs. Although in some cases it may be possible to give beginning students extra time for services by the ENL instructor, in general, the amount of direct ENL instructional services will be based on grade level (elementary, intermediate school, junior high, high school). Research and experience have shown that this is a sound policy in that those students who have a higher degree of oral proficiency (e.g. oral level 4) but are still lacking in academic language skills (e.g., CALP level 3) are still at risk and in need of ENL time and support in the regular classroom. 

Whenever possible, students of similar age, grade and skill levels will be combined into groups for ENL instruction. This is better for language learning than one-on-one instruction because it facilitates real communication. The ENL staff will arrange schedules in cooperation with classroom teachers and other building personnel. At the elementary level, ENL is currently a “pullout” program. ENL instructors and classroom teachers are free to arrange any additional inclusionary arrangements in accordance with the needs of students, preferences of teachers involved, and the philosophy of the school regarding these arrangements. In intermediate, junior high and high school, students are assigned to ENL for one period per day and may receive grades for that class. High school ENL students receive one elective credit per semester for the ENL class.

In addition, they may be enrolled in ENL English and ENL US government classes for credit. At the intermediate, junior high and high school, it is strongly recommended that students with very limited oral proficiency be enrolled in ENL in addition to the regular English until their basic communication skills improve to level 4.