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ESL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do these acronyms mean?

  • ESL = English as a Second Language 
  • ELL = English Language Learner
  • LEP = Limited English Proficient
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • ACCESS = Annually administered assessment for ELL’s in consortium member states to comply with federal accountability requirements in the United States
  • WAPT = WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test used by educators to measure the English language proficiency of students who have recently arrived in the U.S. or in a particular district
  • WIDA = World Class Instructional Design and Assessment – a consortium of states seeking equitable educational opportunities for English language learners.

How long does it take ELLs to learn English?

According to most research  it usually takes ELLs 2 years to learn social language (also known as BICS, Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills), but it takes 4 to 8 years for them to learn academic language skills (also known as CALP, Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). CALP is what students need in order to excel in school.

How will I know if my child qualifies for ESL services?

A student who is an English Language Learner (ELL), enters the ESL Program by a home language survey  and administration of the WIDA/WAPT English language assessment.

What kind of instructional services are provided to my child through the ESL program?

Depending on your child’s need as determined by the WAPT/Access assessment, and after discussions with the classroom teacher your child will receive pull-out instruction in a separate setting for upto 30-60 minutes daily or  3 times a week.   In some cases ESL teachers provide support within the regular classroom by supplying  materials and collaborating with the classroom teachers.  

Why does my child have to take the Access assessment in Spring even if he/she does not receive any direct ESL services?

Once a student is identified as LEP after the initial administration of WAPT he/she stays on the ESL roster till he/she exits out of the ESL program based on the performance on the Access test, and as such has to take the assessment to determine progress.  

What should be the role of our native language while my child is learning English?

As the ELLs are increasing their English proficiency, they are also encouraged to continue to honor and celebrate their language and culture at home and at school.  Research shows that literacy skills attained in the student’s native language will transfer to the second language.  A child who can read fluently in his own language will learn to be fluent in the second language faster than the one who has never learned literacy skills in his own language.  The same principle applies to learning math and other content area concepts as well. 

What can I do to support my child’s learning?

Staying involved in your child’s education is the best way of ensuring academic success.  Please ask your child every day what they learned and stay informed about day to day school activities through other means as well, e.g. newsletters sent by the child’s teacher, attending special school events such as ESL Night, Math Night and Literacy Night.  

Some other ways to help are:
  • Read with your child at least 20 minutes a day-  when possible both in English, and in your native language.
  • Play word/literacy games with your child.  Some examples are Bananagrams, Apples to Apples Junior, Word Pirates.  Other common games such as concentration and tick tack toe can also be adapted to reinforce linguistic/academic concepts.  For e.g. make  pairs using index cards.  One card can be a picture and other the corresponding word, or one card can have a vocabulary word and the other its definition.  Play matching game with these home made cards as a way of making learning fun.
  • Check out the websites listed under the ESL page and the online resources accessible through the school home page.  

What do I do if I can’t speak English, and I need to talk to my child’s teacher?

Please do not let the lack of fluency in English stop you from being involved in your child’s education.  At Rashkis we welcome and cherish families of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  We will make every attempt to facilitate easier communication between you and your child’s teacher.  The district provides translation and interpretation services as needed.  Please let your child’s teacher know as early as early as possible that you will need an interpreter for parent teacher conferences.  We will send certain key communications pertaining to the ESL program in different languages.  If you need additional help please contact the ESL teachers at Rashkis, and we will be happy to assist you in any way possible. 

Where can I learn English as an adult?

Online English course
  • Free English language training for adults, provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Includes both beginner and intermediate-level modules.
  • Mango Languages 
    Online language learning system accessible with your Chapel Hill library card.

Durham Technical Community College 

  • Morning and evening classes at various locations in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Hillsborough.
    919-536-7221, ext. 3228

Wake Technical Community College 
  • Classes in various locations around Raleigh.

Chapel Hill Institute for Cultural and Language Education (CHICLE)
  • 101 East Weaver St. (next to Weaver St. Market)
    Carrboro, NC 27510

NC State University in Raleigh

What are some good websites to learn literacy and math skills?

Check out the Student Tools link on our school’s homepage for online resources that students use to engage in learning.

For young beginners we especially recommend and

Some other websites for online practice in language arts skill building and math :

What can I do to involve my child in extra-curricular activities outside of school?

Enrichment and extra-curricular activities give children a great opportunity to make new friends, practice English in a fun, non-threatening manner and grow as individuals.  Here is a list of activities in the area:

Sports and Fitness 
  • Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department: Sports, swimming (indoor pool), dance, cheerleading, martial arts, rock wall climbing, after-school program. 968-2784.
  • Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department: Offers a variety of classes, sports leagues (including basketball & baseball) and special events. 918-7364.
  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA: Sports, swimming (in an indoor pool), after-school program. 980 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill, 942-9622.
  • The UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont: Children's fitness classes and swim lessons. 100 Sprunt Street, Chapel Hill, 966-5500.
  • Rainbow Soccer: A Chapel Hill & Carrboro children's soccer league. 967-8797.
  • Triangle Futbol Club: A competitive soccer league offers training and camps for players ages 5-10. 640-6032.
  • Spence's Farm: After-school program; classes in horsemanship, art, woodworking, blacksmithing (working with metal), pottery. 6407 Mill House Road, Chapel Hill, 968-8581.
  • Chapel Hill Equestrian: English style horseback riding lessons. 6609 Alexander Drive, Chapel Hill, 357-8509.
  • Blue Skies of Mapleview: English style horseback riding lessons. 3609 Pasture Road, Hillsborough, 933-1444.
  • Sport Art Gymnastics: Gymnastics classes and team. 2200 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, 929-7077.
  • Chapel Hill/Carrboro Tae Kwon Do, Inc.: Korean martial arts. 102 Brewer Lane, Carrboro, 933-7778.
  • Neill's Taekwondo and Fitness: Martial arts. 630 Weaver Dairy Rd. (Cedar Falls Courtyard) Suite 107, Chapel Hill, 942-6622.
  • Grupo Arte e Movimento Capoeira: Afro-Brazilian martial arts. Contact Professor Faisca, 968-6842.
  • The Bouncing Bulldogs: International Rope Skipping Demonstration Team. Gym in Ram's Plaza shopping center, Chapel Hill. 493-7992.
  • SkipSations!: Jump rope team. Contact Lucy, 918-7717.
  • Cub Scouts: For boys grades 1-5. Contact Mike Byerley, 1-800-662-7102 1-800-662-7102.
  • Girl Scouts: For girls ages 5-17. Call 401-4772.

Dance, Drama, Art and Music
  • The ArtsCenter: Classes in drama, dance and music; shows for children and families. 300-G East Main Street, Carrboro, 929-2787.
  • Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department: Classes in drama, dance, art, music, cooking, chess, fishing and more.
  • Hats Off Theatre: Classes in drama, acting, improvisation and storytelling. 610 Market Street (at Market Street Books in Southern Village), Chapel Hill, 475-0988.
  • Triangle Youth Ballet: Classes; annual Nutcracker show during the Christmas season. 1708-A East Franklin Street (behind Staples), Chapel Hill, 932-2676.
  • The Ballet School of Chapel Hill: Ballet, modern, jazz, tap. 1603 East Franklin Street, 942-1339.
  • Dancentre: Ballet, modern, jazz. 1714 Legion Road (behind the American Legion building), 967-4100.
  • Carrboro Music Studios: Lessons for piano, guitar, drums, bass, violin, banjo, voice and flute. 116-B West Main Street, Carrboro, 967-3878.
  • The North Carolina Boys Choir: For boys ages 8-11. Call 489-0291.