English Learner (EL) Programming

Pickerington Schools is home to nearly 500 English Learners (ELs) speaking more than 53 languages. The district provides various levels of services to this highly heterogeneous group of students who possess diverse gifts, educational needs, backgrounds, languages, and goals.  Our program accelerates English language literacy while valuing the social and cultural knowledge that a child brings to school. The district primarily serves ELs based on language needs through self-contained instruction and integrated instructional settings. Our department includes an EL coordinator, an EL administrative assistant, EL specialists, and paraprofessionals.

Administrative Team

Elizabeth Curtis
Elizabeth Curtis
EL Coordinator

EL Teaching Team

Cara Brill
Cara Brill
TESOL Teacher
Brigid Fry
Brigid Fry
English Learner Teacher
Sycamore Creek Elementary 614.834.6200
Beth Klamo
Beth Klamo
English Learner Teacher Pickerington Elementary
Tracy Massey
Tracy Massey
District Wide Instructional English Learner (EL) Coach
Maryann Miller
Maryann Miller
English Learner Teacher / PHSN
(614) 830-2799
Jodie Schlaerth
Jodie Schlaerth
English Learner Teacher
Christy Williams
Christy Williams
English Learner Teacher
614-548-1700 Ridgeview / 614-548-1800 PHS Central

About English Learning (EL)

What is EL?

According to an article found on the Ohio Department of Education’s website, “In Ohio, more than 39,800 limited English proficient (LEP) students/English Learners (EL) were enrolled in the state’s elementary and secondary public schools during the 2010-2011 school year. The terms ‘limited English proficient’ and ‘English Language Learners’ refer to those students whose native or home language is other than English, and whose current limitations in the ability to understand, speak, read or write in English inhibit their effective participation in a school’s educational program. The number of ELs reported in Ohio for school year 2010-2011 represents an increase of 38 percent over the number reported five years previously and an increase of 199 percent over the number reported 10 years ago.”

Parent Rights (Title III and Parent Notification)

The purpose Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act is to help meet the needs of Limited English Proficient students, develop high quality language instruction programs, build agencies’ capacities, promote parental involvement, streamline programs, hold state and local educational agencies accountable, and provide flexibility for agencies.

To assist districts when informing parents regarding Title III, the Ohio Department of Education has provided information in English and other languages.

Myths About English Learning

According to the Ohio Department of Education:

In the document ESL Standards for Pre-K-Students (TESOL, Inc. 1997), several myths about second language learning are discussed.

Myth 1: ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) students learn English easily and quickly simply by being exposed to and surrounded by native English speakers.

Fact: Learning a second language takes time and significant intellectual effort on the part of the learner. Learning as second language is hard work; even the youngest learners do not simply “pick up” the language.

Myth 2: When ESOL learners are able to converse comfortably in English, they have developed proficiency in the language.

Fact: It can take 6 to 9 years for ESOL learners to achieve the same levels of proficiency in academic English as native speakers. Moreover, ESOL students participating in thoughtfully designed programs of bilingual or sheltered content instruction remain in school longer and attain significantly higher rates of academic achievement in comparison to students without such advantages.

Myth 3: In earlier times immigrant children learned English rapidly and assimilated easily into American life.

Fact: Many immigrant students during the early part of this century did not learn English quickly or well. Many dropped out of school to work in jobs that did not require the kinds of academic achievement and communication skills that substantive employment opportunities require today. (TESOL, Inc., 1997, p. 3)

Read more on the myths of English Language Learning.

Services Provided

School districts have the flexibility to decide on the educational approach that best meets the needs of their LEP students and leads to the timely acquisition of the level of English proficiency the students need to succeed in school. Presented here is a brief description of federal law describing districts’ responsibilities for selecting programs as well as an overview of different approaches used in Ohio.

Small Group Instruction for English Learning (EL)

Using this educational approach, limited English proficient students are directly instructed in the use of the English language. Instruction is based on a special curriculum that typically involves little or no use of the students’ native language and is usually taught during specific school periods. For the remainder of the school day, students may be placed in mainstream classrooms. EL classes may focus on teaching formal English grammar and on promoting natural communication activities (free conversation, games, discussions on familiar topics). Reading and writing are practiced as well as oral communication skills in English.

Tutoring Sessions

Individual or small-group tutoring sessions are used most commonly when there are very few LEP students enrolled in a school district. The tutoring sessions may focus on promoting basic English communication skills or on English for academic purposes.

In-class Support (Inclusion and Co-teaching)

In this approach, LEP students are together with their native-English speaking peers in the same classroom, but an EL or bilingual education specialist is available in the classroom to support the LEP students. For example, the EL or bilingual education specialist may provide guidance to the LEP students as they are working on a group project or individual assignment.

Parent and Community Information

Enrolling and Registering in Pickerington Schools

All new students in Pickerington Schools start by registering through the district’s Welcome Center. To begin that process, visit the “Enrolling” section of our website.

Non-English speaking parents who need a translator or other assistance with this process may contact either Erik Barbon, EL Coordinator, or Tonya Nuss, Administrative Secretary.

Information about Free and Reduced Meals

Pickerington Schools offers free and reduced-price meals for students unable to pay the full price of meals or milk served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast, After School Care Snack or Special Milk Program. Each school office and District Office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

The Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines will be used for determining eligibility. Children from families whose annual income is at or below the federal guidelines are eligible for free and reduced price meals or free milk if the school participates in the Special Milk Program.

For complete information, see “Free and Reduced Price Meals” on the Food Services Department section of the website.

Adult English Classes

Numerous resources exist in the Columbus area to help adults learn English. Here are a few options:

Pickerington Schools (614) 920-6196

Pickerington Schools offers free English classes to adults in the community.

Beginner classes are held Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. at Tussing Elementary in the media center. Classes will resume in the fall 2018.

Intermediate classes are held Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at Tussing Elementary in the media center. Classes will resume in the fall 2018

Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE)

ABLE offers free English classes for individuals age 18 and over who do not have an F1 VISA.  They also provide an array of courses for adults through GED preparation, citizenship courses, employment success, college success, computer skills, as well as Work Keys preparation.

Columbus Literacy Council, (614)-282-7661

The Columbus Literacy Council was founded in 1970 to support immigrants with learning English. Today they offer many different classes to support individuals learning the English language.

Dominican Learning Center, (614) 444-7330

In 1994, the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs established the Dominican Learning Center to respond to the growing literacy needs in Columbus, Ohio. Today they support individuals one-on-one to enhance reading skills, prepare for GED examinations, or learn English as a Second Language (ESL).

Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS), (614) 252-5362

The ETSS assists immigrant and refugee families and low income individuals in Central Ohio through education, training, supportive services, and self-development opportunities.

Eastland-Fairfield Adult Workforce Development, (614)-836-3903

The Eastland-Fairfield Adult Workforce Development offers both full time and part time career programs for adults.

Columbus State Community College Language Institute, (614) 287-5858

Columbus State Language Institute helps individuals, companies, and groups learn to communicate in a foreign language or strengthen their skills in spoken and written English as a Second Language.

Homework Help

Pickerington Public Library, 201 Opportunity Way, Pickerington, OH 43147

The Homework Help Center is comprised of dedicated volunteers and staff who provide general homework guidance and support to grades K – 12.  Monday through Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Columbus Public Library

All Columbus Public Libraries offer homework help free of charge. Staff is available to support students and help them succeed in school.

  • Reynoldsburg: 1402 Brice Rd, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068. Hours: Monday – Thursday, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m / Friday, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Groveport: 3980 S Hamilton Rd, Groveport, OH 43125. Hours: Monday – Thursday, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m / Friday, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Colorin Colorado

Colorin Colorado is a bilingual site to support educators and families of English Language Learners. They offer great tips and ideas for both families and educators.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that allows students to learn at their own pace. They offer math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more.

Third Grade Reading Guarentee


Reading can happen anytime, anywhere!  Together, you and your children can explore the joy of reading.  The INFOhio website provides “Reading ‘Round the Clock” videos and “So You’re Parenting…” flyers (flyers available in English and Spanish), that offer easy tips for incorporating reading practice into everyday activities.  Visit the INFOhio website to view the videos and flyers provided.

INFOhio developed these resources in partnership with the State Library of Ohio, Ohio Educational Library Media Association, and the Ohio PTA.  Free downloads are available to all Ohioans.  Take a look for great tips on keeping your family reading and preparing your children for Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Family Services

Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS)

Community Refugee and Immigration Service (CRIS) is an independent non-profit agency serving refugees, asylees, and immigrants in central Ohio. They help refugees and immigrants achieve successful integration into the central Ohio community.

The Children’s Advocacy Project for Kids (CAP4Kids)

The Children’s Advocacy Project for Kids (CAP4Kids) helps families and school find out about free and low-cost community resources that exist to improve the lives of families. The website features after-school care, literacy resources, behavioral counseling, teen resources, and services for children with special needs. Handouts and information within the webpage can be translated into multiple languages.

Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services

The ETSS assists immigrant and refugee families and low income individuals in Central Ohio through education, training, supportive services, and self-development opportunities.

Intercambio Uniting Communities (Immigrant Integration) 

Immigrant Integration works on helping improve the lives of immigrants through English Education.

Latino Empowerment Outreach Network

The Latino Empowerment Outreach Network as a network of individuals and organizations to empower and enrich the Latino community in the areas of health, education, advocacy, and communication. Network meetings: September-June, 8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m, first Thursday of every month. Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland, Columbus,Ohio, 1700 Watermark Drive (Take Grandview exit off of I-670W. Go straight through light).

My Project USA

MY Project USA is a non-profit organization. It is the first and the only national initiative that is addressing the challenges facing the American Youth, especially in the immigrant and refugee communities from various Muslim countries.

Ohio Hispanic Coalition

The Ohio Hispanic Coalition works improve the well being and quality of life of all Latinos through advocacy, education, training and access to quality services.

ODE-Lau Resource Center

The mission of the Lau Resource Center at the Ohio Department of Education is to ensure equal access to high-quality learning experiences and standards for students with limited English proficiency in the state of Ohio.

Teaching Tolerance

This website provides guidance for educators on how to handle undocumented students that are going through the stress/fear of deportation.

Flex Credit

Information on Pickerington Schools Flex Credit program.

Visti the Ohio Department of Education’s Credit Flexibility Guidance web page to view additional information.  Under the “World Languages” portion of the page, you will find FAQs, proficiency measures, existing credit flex programs in Ohio and more.

Student Resources and Information

Content Bilingual Glossaries

Content Bi-lingual Glossaries

These bilingual glossaries are broken down into content areas and are offered in many different languages. The bilingual glossaries are intended to be used by teachers, EL students, test translators, and material and curricula developers.

Academic and Curricular Resources

Brain Pop

BrainPOP engages students through animated movies, learning games and interactive quizzes covering many topics.

Eureka math: tips for parents

These are tools and videos to support students with Eureka Math at home.

Gale Digital Library (Cengage)

This digital library gives students 24/7 access to top quality resources including National Geographic Kids, Kids Infobits, and 100’s of ebooks at the elementary level. At the secondary level, the digital library includes research material covering science and social studies.

Imagine Learning

Imagine Learning is a blended learning tool that our elementary and middle school ELL students use to enhance language acquisition.

InfOhio PreK-12 Digital Library

INFOhio is a digital library that offers a variety of content and services—most at no charge—to Ohio’s 1.9 million PreK-12 students, their parents, and their teachers.

Springboard login

Provides the login page to the Pickerington Springboard curriculum

ST Math

Spatial – Temporal (ST) Math is a blended learning tool students in Pickerington use to support math instruction. ST Math is the leader in visual math instruction.

STAR Testing

This is a link to the STAR testing login page for Pickerington School District.


Family Activities

Pickerington Parks and Recreation

Pickerington Parks and Recreation provides many affordable programs in the Pickerington area for kids and adults.

Experience Columbus

Experience Columbus provides calendars of events happening around Columbus.

Metro Parks

Offers many activities and programs at the Metro Parks around Columbus.

Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art offers free admission on Sundays and offers activities for all ages.

Columbus Commons

Columbus Commons is seven acres of green space located in the heart of Downtown Columbus with a state-of-the-art performance space. They offer many different activities throughout the year.

Teacher Tools and Resources

Building Relationships With Your EL Students

According to Ohio Department of Education:

Five principles of second language development are presented here, along with suggestions on how to implement these practices.

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 LEP students and their peers/teachers;
  • Promote cooperative learning activities;
  • Arrange for peer study partners;
  • Use language skills and cultural knowledge of LEP 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.


Krashen, S. & Terrell, Tracy. 1983. The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom. Hayward, CA: Alemany Press

Rigg, P. & Hudelson, S. 1986. One child doesn’t speak English. Australian Journal of Reading. 9, 3, pp. 116-125.

View the original article at this link.

Understanding Your EL Students

How do EL students feel?

Culture shock is precipitated by the anxiety that results from losing all familiar signs and symbols of social discourse. By leaving their country (a decision that they have no control over) they leave their friends, family, school, sense of being safe, and all other aspects of their lives to start a new life in an unfamiliar and unknown land, often with unrealistic expectations.

Overwhelmed: When they first arrive at school they don’t understand our schedule, our classroom set up, our student-centered classroom, cooperative learning, buying lunch, bringing clothes for gym, books for class, or anything else about school. They can’t understand anything because it is all in a language foreign to them.

Confused: Often they have no idea what is going on. Where do they go? What do they need? What can they do? What can’t they do? What bus do they take? What do they do when they have to go to the bathroom? Where are the bathrooms? What is everyone else doing?

Tired: Spending the day in a completely different language is exhausting. They may understand no English or some English but either way it is absolutely exhausting. They are trying to listen for words they know, translate words they don’t know, connect their new knowledge to their prior knowledge, which is in their first language.

Lost: Everything is foreign to them. The school set up, the choices at lunch, the room locations, where the assignments are listed, everything makes them feel lost.

Isolated: They feel very alone. Often they have no one to talk to or share their feelings with. That is why it is helpful to find someone in the building that can speak his or her native language.

Source: Ohio Department of Education

Suggested Accommodations

Instructional Accommodations for ELs

  • Assign a study partner.
  • Break lesson into smaller “chunks”.
  • Repeat directions.
  • Use more manipulatives.
  • Provide opportunities to retake tests.
  • Reduce auditory and visual distractions.
  • Use high interest reading material at an easier level.
  • Use highlighting tape and markers.
  • Use visuals and gestures to convey meaning nonverbally
  • Allow wait time for a response


  • Directions are in written form, as well as read orally.
  • Assignments are written on the board.
  • Make sure the student is on the correct page.
  • Allow extra time to gather material.
  • Make sure you have the student’s attention before giving instructions.
  • Break down multi-step directions.

Daily Assignments

  • Reduce the amount of the assignment. (volume)
  • Allow extra time to complete assignments.
  • Accept amount of work completed if time is used wisely.
  • Prioritize assignments.
  • Use peer tutoring/language buddy.
  • Reduce the amount of material covered. (chunk and chew)
  • Accept short answers as opposed to complete sentences.
  • Accept oral recordings as an alternative to writing assignments.


  • Provide multi-sensory presentations of lessons. (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
  • Vary group structure/cooperative learning.
  • Tape any available text.
  • Allow peer to take notes for students or carbon copy notes.
  • Allow student to tape lectures
  • Provide a study sheet/lecture outline.
  • Focus on key vocabulary for various units
  • Read information orally with a peer or a small group
  • Simplify vocabulary without reducing content.


  • Read test orally.
  • Give short answer tests.
  • Allow dictation of answers.
  • Allow student to list ideas rather than sentences or essays.
  • Simplify tests.
  • Divide tests into smaller parts.
  • Allow use of different test formats.(time chart/outline)
  • Do not penalize for spelling of other grammatical errors.
  • Allow extra time for tests.
  • Allow open book and/or open note test.
  • Allow the test to be taken with ESL teacher.
  • Use a variety of alternative assessments to evaluate student work.

State assessments in a variety of formats that assist in providing accommodations to students whose IEP, 504 or Limited English Proficient (LEP) status allows for use of special testing accommodations.

For information about special testing accommodations, including Foreign language audio format, language translation scripts for state assessments, large print, bilingual forms, and visit the Ohio Department of Education’s website.

Source: Ohio Department of Education

Two Types of Language (BICS and CALP)

What is BICS?

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills is (BICS) is the form of language that is commonly associated with conversations in the hallway, or before class, or at some kind of recreational or social event. It takes approximately 2-3 years for students to become proficient in BICS. BICS is also manifested in relation to CONCRETE concepts.

Many teachers are confounded by the fact that their ESL students have developed BICS proficiency but appear to have little success in the formal classroom setting. That’s because the students have not yet developed CALP-Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency.

What is CALP?

CALP is what students must develop if they are going to be able to make sense out of the abstract concepts the teachers are trying to teach them. CALP can take (on average 5-7 years) up to 10 years to acquire.

If a student has developed CALP in their native language, then our job is to facilitate the transfer of CALP by giving the student new labels for the abstract concepts they are familiar with.

Source: Ohio Department of Education

Stages of Second Language Acquisition


Pre-production or the silent period. New students just listen. Some may not speak for weeks or months. Don’t force them. Some will start using simple learned phrases and simple sentences.


Students will develop a vocabulary of about 1,000 words; speak in one or two word phrases, memorized chunks and simple sentences. This may last about 6 months.

High Beginner

Students will develop a vocabulary of about 3,000 words, use simple sentences, ask simple questions, read easy stories, and write simple sentences.


Now students have a 6,000 word vocabulary, use more complex sentences, and ask questions. They will still have grammar errors.


It can take 4 – 10 years to achieve this. Students are able to cope in the classroom but will still need help with vocabulary, idioms, writing and content such as social studies.

Communicating With Parents
  • Use a translator, which can be scheduled through your EL teacher.
  • Send written correspondence in the native language and English.
  • Schedule a home visit with your EL teacher and / or EL coordinator.
  • Ask for the assistance of the child or older siblings (although not ideal)
  • Ask for the assistance of the EL teacher.
  • Use an online translation site, like Google Translate.
  • To communicate information about the district, use the website content translation function on the district website (located on the lower left corner of this page.)
Ohio English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards

The Ohio English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards are a resource for teachers and other school staff who work with limited English proficient (LEP) students in kindergarten through grade 12.  The standards define progressive levels of competence in the acquisition of English and help teachers move LEP students toward proficiency both in the English language and in Ohio’s academic content standards.

The 10 standards highlight a set of language functions and forms that are needed by English language learners as they develop competence in English language arts and literacy, mathematics, science, and other academic content areas.  Along with the new Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA), the standards should guide the instruction and assessment of English Learners (ELs) in Ohio schools.  Divided into grades K, 1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12, the standards directly link to the Ohio Learning Standards.  They highlight and amplify the critical language, knowledge about language and skills using language that are needed to be successful in school.

Standards by Grade Band

Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA 21)

The screener to identify students as English language learners will be available for school year 2018-19. According to the Ohio Department of Education, it is scheduled to be posted on August 1, 2018.

The 2018-19 online and paper test administration window is Feb. 4 – March 29, 2019. Make-up tests are included in the test window. All tests must be completed within the window. There is no extension of the test window for any reason due to the large test window.

The ELPA21 consortium provides sample items that demonstrate features of ELPA21’s reading, speaking, listening and writing items for grades K-12.

Professional Development

Academic Reading

Realizing Opportunities for ELLs in the Common Core English Language Arts and Disciplinary Literacy Standards 

Providing Feedback on ESL Students’ Written Assignments


ELPA21 Professional Development Modules

The first two of six ELPA21 professional development modules are now available! These modules, produced for ELPA21 states, focus on implementing the new ELP Standards in the classroom. Module 1 is an introduction to the ELP Standards, and Module 2 focuses on task analysis.

Both modules are currently available to ELPA21 states through Stanford University’s Understanding Language program, and links are provided in the Operational Handoffs Basecamp Project under “Training.”

It is the consortium’s intent that these modules will be transferred to ELPA21 states’ professional development systems. Module 3, ELP Standards, will be available this month.

Source: ELPA21


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Guidelines for Referral and Identification of English Learners with Disabilities

The following guidance documents have been developed by the Ohio Department of Education to assist the identification and instruction of English language learners who do not make expected academic progress in school and who may benefit from individualized, intensive intervention services provided through The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004).

The two key question checklistsReferral and Identification of English Language Learners with Disabilities and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Literacy/Reading Instruction for English Language Learners are informal assessment tools developed by Ohio educators to provide more consistent and well-rounded assessment within the referral and identification processes established at the local level for ELs and students with disabilities. The checklists are presented as a list of guiding questions developed by practitioners to support the provision of school intervention for English language learners with suspected disabilities.

Educational Website Links

English For Everyone

EnglishForEveryone.org is your resource for printable English worksheets. You are welcome to use any of the materials on this website without asking permission, granted that our strict copyright policy is respected. 

Common Core Worksheets

These worksheets are modified for the needs of lower level learners or for first introducing a topic. They’ll often have an answer bank, multiple choice instead of fill in the blank or other modifications to meet different students needs.  You can also download the worksheets in multiple languages; Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, Vietnamese, and French.