How to Choose the Right School for your English Language Learner

Middle school is a transformative time. At this stage, your child is beginning to discover more of themselves, all while learning to manage their day-to-day responsibilities at home or in school. Learning English as a second language can add additional complexity to this unique season.

You desire for your child to succeed — and you want to make sure that they have all the support they need to achieve their academic and language learning goals. During this season of growth, it’s even more important to find the right-fit school for your English Language Learner (ELL). But how do you know what to look for as you get started?

These three questions can help guide your charter school search.

Choosing the Right School for Your English Language Learner: Questions to Ask

1. How is the program designed to support my middle schooler who is learning English as a new language?

Each child learns at a different pace and requires a different level of support when it comes to learning a new language. As you look at a school’s ELL program, it’s essential to consider the resources available to your child, both inside and outside of the classroom.

At St HOPE Leadership Academy, we offer several programs for your pre-teen not just to adapt, but to actively learn English in unique and interesting ways. 

Classroom and one-on-one support: We have a push-in and pull-out service for scholars in need of extra support during classroom hours. This means that your child can work with an ELL teacher to receive help in understanding material, reading instructions, or following through with any classroom requirement.

Honoring your child’s native language: St HOPE wants to build confidence that your child can learn English, but recognizes the value of every scholar’s native language. We build rapport by engaging with each scholar in their language learning journey.

Immersion approach: ELL scholars are active members of Plant Club, a program in collaboration with Harlem Grown, where your pre-teen can interact with others to develop speaking skills while learning about agriculture. Scholars also get to enjoy field trips and other hands-on activities, making language learning a dynamic experience.

For some children, learning a new language can feel overwhelming — especially without the right support. More than reading through textbooks or answering worksheets, language learning should also incorporate real-life experiences so your child will know how to use English in different scenarios.

St HOPE is a charter middle school that strives to immerse scholars in unique language learning experiences. Our ELL scholars get to enjoy field trips, clubs, and other activities in and out of the school that further enrich their language learning.

“Something that can’t be measured is the joy our ELL scholars have participating in exciting learning opportunities. How thrilling it is to go on field trips with friends and classmates, proof that many memorable learning experiences happen outside of the four classroom walls. Things like the Plant Club and Fish Club allow our ELL scholars to not only be in community together — it allows them to feel the unique joy that comes with participating in fun extracurricular activities that enrich their language skills.”

-Courtney Adams, Office & Community Relations Manager

2. What tools are available to accommodate my child’s needs?

Another crucial piece of the puzzle is having access to resources that will help your child overcome barriers in learning English. Translating devices can be helpful for children who are just starting to converse. Books that read both in your child’s home language and English allow learners to compare how sentences are formed.

Having dedicated teachers who empathize with the needs of your middle schooler is also essential for language learning. Teachers and staff who honor your child’s first language while bridging the gap towards English proficiency are key to their success. St HOPE gives teachers the right resources to support your middle schooler, including:

Technology-enhanced learning: We provide access to Lexia Core 5, an interactive and adaptive learning program that helps middle schoolers in building literacy and reading skills. Scholars also use Achieve 3000, a computer-based application where they can read nonfiction articles to improve their comprehension skills.

Dual language books: Scholars get to read books with content in their native language and in English, helping them in understanding sentence formation within proper contexts. Audiobooks and visuals are also available for scholars to use, with guidance from ELL teachers as needed.
Translation tools: St HOPE provides digital and physical materials to help in translating and understanding English for new learners. Scholars are taught how to use programs such as Google Translate for vocabulary, while teachers translate materials and conversations if necessary.

“The ELL program has supported me so much. The last few years have been difficult for learning English because of COVID. Now that we’re in school, I’m learning so much from my friends in the ELL program and outside of it. I am having conversations with them in English and that’s very helpful. The small groups I’m in for ELL have been helpful in terms of building my confidence to speak in English.”

St HOPE 8th grade scholar

3. How does the school provide support to families of English Language Learners?

A school that extends support to families of language learners creates a lasting impact. The whole family is involved in a child’s language learning, so it’s important that a school extends support to the families of ELL scholars. St HOPE provides resources for the family, such as assistance filling out applications and paperwork, as well as communication between the home and school in the scholar’s home language.

Family involvement is also central to St HOPE’s teaching initiatives. Families are welcome to express any concerns they have about their child while receiving advice on how they can support their language learner at home.

Ready to learn more about St HOPE? 

Please reach out to Yamel Gonzalez, our Director of Student Recruitment and Enrollment, to find out how we can help your middle schooler succeed in learning English.

Yamel Gonzalez