English Language Learners

English as a Second Language (ESL) students are students who first learned to speak, read and/or write a language(s) other than English and whose level of English language proficiency precludes them from full participation in learning experiences provided in Alberta schools. ESL students may have recently (im)migrated to Canada or may have been born in Canada and live in homes in which the primary language is not English.

Alberta schools have always included students who are learning English as an additional language. Children and their families (im)migrate to Alberta from every corner of the world. Many students who come to Canada from other countries speak languages other than English and have varying levels of English language proficiency. Canadian students of Aboriginal, Francophone and other descents, whose families have lived in Alberta for many generations, may begin learning English when they enroll in Alberta schools. Linguistic and cultural diversity is characteristic of schools and communities throughout the province. 

Students learning ESL need targeted instruction and structured opportunities to develop language proficiency and literacy. Young people entering post-secondary institutions or seeking employment generally require senior high school diplomas. There are few jobs available that do not require advanced levels of literacy and most employers will consider only those applicants who have completed senior high school, even for entry level positions. 

When ESL students are integrated with their English-speaking peers, they are able to work on language and concept development in all subject areas. English language proficiency is, however, not simply a by-product of other classroom learning. Specific formal instruction in speaking, reading and writing in English is essential.