Inspiring Each Student Every Day

English Learners

In Minnesota, an English Learner is defined as a someone who a) first learned a language other than English, comes from a home where a language other than English is usually spoken, or does not use English as a primary language; and b) lacks the necessary English skills to fully participate in classes taught in English.

Part (a) above is measured by a home language questionnaire (HLQ). The HLQ must be given to every student entering the district for the first time, whether in kindergarten or a later grade, regardless of perceived native language.

Part (b) above is determined by developmentally appropriate measures and practices, which might include observations, teacher judgment, parent recommendations, and/or developmentally appropriate assessment instruments.

General descriptions of the English Learner levels


  • Beginning: Beginners range from having no English to demonstrating a minimal understanding and use of English. Their comprehension is limited to simple language containing mostly high-frequency vocabulary and simple grammatical patterns. These learners derive a great deal of meaning from the context and nonverbal cues that accompany any English input, and benefit from repetition, rephrasing and a slower rate of speech. They can express basic personal needs. They tend to communicate about very familiar topics based on personal experience. Errors are frequent, expected and characteristic of language production at this stage. With appropriate instructional strategies and scaffolding of materials, beginning ELs can learn age-appropriate academic content in English through instruction using sheltered English techniques and/or bilingual education.
  • Intermediate: Intermediate-level learners can comprehend short conversations and simple written narratives in familiar contexts. A limited vocabulary range necessitates frequent repetition and rephrasing for their understanding. They frequently use contextual and visual cues to derive meaning and also rely on guessing. Their production is characterized by simple vocabulary, verb tenses and syntax. Many errors occur, some of which interfere with meaning. With appropriate instructional strategies and scaffolding of materials, intermediate ELs can learn age-appropriate academic content in English through instruction using sheltered English techniques.
  • Advanced: Advanced-level learners can understand much of the speech delivered in authentic settings with some repetition or rephrasing. Understanding grammatically complex structures proves problematic but, with support, these learners are able to master some grade-level academic content. Their productive vocabulary, with some circumlocutions, is adequate to accomplish many tasks. They can produce many of the basic and most frequently used grammatical structures, but their errors may become more abundant as they venture into less familiar topics and as they test hypotheses or take risks with more complex language structures. With appropriate instructional strategies and scaffolding of materials, advanced ELs can learn age-appropriate academic content in English through instruction using sheltered English techniques.
  • Transitional/Monitor: Transitional learners still benefit from EL support, but they understand most standard speech and writing in a variety of settings. These learners are approaching fluency in speaking and writing in a variety of settings. These learners are approaching fluency in speaking and writing in the content areas. They demonstrate an increasing ability to successfully use language to convey their intended message. They do not produce error-free instructional strategies and scaffolding of materials, transitional ELs can learn age-appropriate academic content in English.

If you think your child requires EL/ESL services, please contact the school principal.
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