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EL Program Design

The Highland Local School District provides pull-out tutoring services for Limited English Proficient (EL) students designed around the principles of second language development. The five research-based principles and their related application strategies are as follows:

Principle #1: Students need to feel good about themselves and their relationships with others in second language learning situations. (Rigg & Hudelson, 1986)

To put the principle into practice, educators should:

  • Foster friendships among EL students and their peers/teachers;
  • Promote cooperative learning activities;
  • Arrange for peer study partners;
  • Use language skills and cultural knowledge of EL students as resources in the classroom;
  • Have students make bilingual dictionaries for different content areas;
  • Have students provide information on food, music, dance, games, folk tales, etc.;
  • Have students share personal likes and dislikes;
  • Provide learning settings in which students feel at ease.

Principle #2: Comprehension naturally precedes production during the process of second language development (Krashen & Terrell, 1983)

To put the principle into practice:

  • Provide comprehensible input within meaningful contexts;
  • Give plenty of opportunities to read good literature that is age appropriate and suitable to students' proficiency level;
  • Allow students to show comprehension/competency non-verbally;
  • If possible, use students' native language as a means to develop necessary concepts.

Principle #3: Second language competency develops most quickly when the learner focuses on accomplishing tasks rather than focusing on the language itself. (Rigg & Hudelson, 1986; Krashen & Terrell, 1983)

To put the principle into practice:

  • Give chances for students to work on group assignments;
  • Begin with concrete experiences;
  • Focus on purposeful content-related activities.

Principle #4: Students can learn to read and write in a second language while they develop their oral skills. (Rigg & Hudelson, 1986)

To put the principle into practice:

  • Use the language experience approach to promote both oral and written communication;
  • Provide meaningful writing opportunities;
  • Teach note-taking skills;
  • Make authentic reading resources available;
  • Involve students in journal writing.

Principle #5: Learners acquire a second language through trial and error; mistakes are part of the natural process. (Rigg & Hudelson, 1986; Krashen & Terrell, 1983)

To put the principle into practice:

  • Focus on what students communicate rather than on how they communicate;
  • Don't correct students' mistakes all the time, especially when correction interrupts communication;
  • Use students' errors as indicators of their progress in developing second language skills.

Source: Principles of Second Language Development in Teaching EL Students. The Lau Center / Ohio Department of Education.

Students participate in language development services designed to teach English language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and to provide support in mainstream subject areas within a small-group setting during regular classroom periods and/or study halls. Ohio English Language Proficiency Standards for Limited English Proficient Students in Grades K-12, Ohio Department of Education Academic Content Standards and Highland Local Schools' curriculum are the basis for instruction.


Bringing EL students together for instruction while they explore, practice, and learn English is important. Anyone who has ever studied a new language knows that in the beginning it is difficult to understand native speakers. For many students new to English, the pressure of using the new language with native speakers can be stressful.


In order to provide effective program services for EL students, it is also important to understand the variations in their educational experiences. There are those students who are literate in their home language. They have solid language skills in their home language but need help in transferring their knowledge and skills to English. Immigrants or refugees might not be literate in their home language, making learning English even more challenging. It is also important to consider any major issues these students may be facing that affect learning, such as displacement, exposure to war, and poverty. For second language learners, the U.S. may be their home country, but English is not their primary or native language.


Understanding that proficiency in a second language takes from five to seven years to acquire (CALP), the Highland Local School District analyzes data (AMAO, OTELA scores) yearly to ensure that this program model is effective for all EL students.