Program Services for English Language Learners

An English Language Learning (ELL) student is defined as a student enrolled in a B.C. school who needs additional English language development support in order to access the provincially prescribed curriculum and succeed in the academic environment.

School districts provide ELL supports and services, enabling ELL students to develop their language and literacy skills, to achieve the expected learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum and to become capable young people thriving in our diverse society.”

Ministry of Education: English Language Learning (ELL) Teaching Resources

Research shows that it takes most ELLs four to seven years to develop academic language skills equivalent to their English-speaking peers. Learning a new language is a complex and gradual process. Progress rates can vary a great deal for two apparently similar students. Although many ELLs may develop a high degree of English communication skills within about two years through exposure to English speaking peers, television and school, this does not usually reflect their overall academic proficiency in English. ELLs are more successful in learning academic English when they receive specific language instruction that is meaningfully and purposefully connected to their everyday lives.

Assessment and Placement
An ELL assessment is recommended for students who meet the following criteria:

K – 12 Students:

  • New to the Burnaby School District


  • Have spent 4 years or less in a native English-speaking school system or received ELL support in previous school


  • Speak a language other than English

Incoming Kindergarten students:

  • students for whom there are additional languages other than English in the home

Students are assessed at the District Welcome Centre by an ELL teacher. Results are then shared with parents and the student’s school. ELL teachers at the school level will determine the type and frequency of support an ELL student will receive to ensure continual language growth.

Program Goals
The purpose of the ELL program is to assist students to develop the language skills and knowledge necessary for success in Canadian schools. ELL services are designed to strengthen the intellectual, social and career development of ELL students by helping them to:

  • improve their ability to communicate fluently in English at school and in the wider community.
  • acquire the English needed to make academic progress within the B.C. school system and realize their potential.
  • develop their other academic skills (e.g., numeracy, scientific understanding, group participation).
  • develop an understanding of the similarities and differences between their home culture and the Canadian culture.

Ways to Support
Parents are strongly encouraged to continue to speak their home language with their children. Bilingualism or multilingualism has many important benefits including connection to culture, academic achievement and future career opportunities. Maintaining your home language can actually help your child learn English as they can make vocabulary connections between the two languages.