“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” -Winston Churchill
Our Clear Creek community is very fortunate to have diversity in many forms. This diversity truly unites us all and is certainly cause for celebration. Today, we focus on one particular group of students who bring wonderful diversity and unique worldviews to our classrooms every day: our multilingual learners. Let’s celebrate these incredible students!
Multilingual Learners (MLs) are students who speak more than one language. To be multilingual is a superpower, and we honor the fresh perspectives that having multiple languages brings. Currently, there are 24 MLs in our Clear Creek School District, from PreK to grade 12. This number has grown over the years. For the academic year 2019-20, there were 8 MLs in the district. For the academic year 2020-21, there were 10 MLs. 2021-22 saw only 7 MLs. But in 2022-23, we saw a jump in numbers up to 15 MLs. And now, we have 24 MLs so far this academic year.
We can expect this growth to continue. Nationwide, there were 5.1 million MLs in 20191. Here in Clear Creek County, we are fortunate to benefit from both domestic and international migration patterns which bring us these students from fascinating backgrounds. We currently have students from seven countries across the globe. These students speak five languages other than English. Can you say “hello” in five different languages?
The Clear Creek School District is committed to helping each individual student be successful. To that end, the district implemented an English Language Development (ELD) program this year. This program supports MLs in achieving a high level of academic English proficiency and promoting cultural awareness. The program offers academic English classes, tutoring, classroom support, and social-emotional support. The curriculum of the ELD program is evidence-based and highly effective. The Colorado English Language Proficiency (CELP) Standards are developed by WIDA, part of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin.
Multilingual learners can be identified with different descriptions. For example, “Newcomers” are students who have recently arrived from another country, while “Experienced Multilinguals” are students who have been here in the U.S. learning English for five or more years2. Research shows that to learn a language to the level of proficiency for academic usage, it often takes 4-10 years3. Academic language is very different from social language. For example, writing essays, reading historical texts, decoding math word problems, and writing science lab reports are all highly challenging tasks. Imagine trying to do all of these in a foreign language. Our MLs are extremely hardworking and driven to succeed. We applaud them for their fortitude and tenacity in the face of linguistic adversity!
Looking ahead, by the end of this academic year, a comprehensive ELD plan will be formalized and shared with the community. Some topics under review as part of the ELD plan will include an analysis of registration procedures for multilingual families, graduation requirements for MLs, and communication strategies in languages other than English. Looking a bit further ahead, CCSD will work to implement the Seal of Biliteracy for graduating seniors. The community is strongly encouraged to join in the conversation about ELD programming and how best to support our MLs. Your input is highly valued!
For more information on MLs and ELD programming, here are some useful links:
Colorado Department of Education - Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
You are warmly invited to reach out and share your ideas about ELD at CCSD. Please contact:
Multilingual Learner Coordinator/Teacher
1 National Center for Education Statistics
2 Huynh, T. and Skelton, B. (2023) Long-term success for experienced multilinguals. Corwin.
3Colorado Department of Education. (2023). English language development guidebook: Designing, delivering, and evaluating instruction and services for multilingual learners. (page 11). Published online. https://www.cde.state.co.us/cde_english/eldguidebook