ESL Teachers

Alyson Glenz,


Laura Brueggeman,

Sparta ESL Newsletter                                    January 2014

The purpose of this newsletter is to share tips, tricks, and information to help all of us serve our ELLs. It is brought to you by your ESL department: Laura Brueggeman (Lawrence-Lawson and MVI), Michael Castle (MVM and High School), Alyson Glenz (Southside and MVI), and Daniel Gatica (Bilingual Aide). We thank the Sparta Learning Community, especially those extending their efforts beyond what is asked of them in order to help ELL students. We welcome your comments and questions!


  • Use templates, graphic organizer and story maps for ELLs for projects or writing. Most of what you do in the classroom can be adapted so that ELLs can participate in content-area activities.
  • Take notes with a bubble web or in guided notes (students just fill in the blanks)
  • Be culturally responsive. Please learn and use the correct pronunciation of your students' names.  In addition, try to include famous people from different cultures within your lessons. For example, if students are writing a report on inventors, you could add one or two Hispanic inventors to the list of possible topics.
  • Recognize their hard work. It takes tremendous effort to do what they do. They are learning the curriculum in a different language with little support at home if parents don't speak English. They are working harder than you think. ELLs with lower proficiencies are apt to get tired and give up.
  • Encourage their efforts. Effort affects progress more than innate qualities. Encouragement like, "I noticed you working hard." "Thank you for listening." "I can tell you work hard." "I can tell you listen to your teachers." is more effective than "I can tell you are smart." or "I can see you are intelligent." By recognizing effort, students realize that success is within everyone's reach: "If I continue to work hard, I will learn." On the other hand, emphasizing intelligence may make some students feel that success will never be within their reach: "I don't get it, so I must not be smart, so I'll never learn."


  • Please send notes home in Spanish for parents who speak Spanish, even if the student speaks English.
  • On conference scheduling notes, please ask in Spanish, "Do you need an interpreter?" Yes/ No "¿Necesita Ud. un interprete?" (Sí/ No)
  • Be sensitive to parents' work commitments. Many families have one parent outside the home working (day and night), and they exchange roles as caregivers. Try not to get upset when they cannot come to school.


CURRENT EVENTS: TESTING                                                                                                                            ACCESS for ELLs Testing began in December and will end in February. Thank you for your cooperation as we interrupt our regular schedules to complete the testing. 

* ACCESS for ELLs is an annual standards-based, criterion referenced K-12 English language proficiency assessment (as required by NCLB legislation) given to students who have been identified as English language learners (ELLs). It is used to monitor students' progress in acquiring social and academic English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains. Test forms are divided into five grade-level clusters: Kindergarten, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. Within each grade-level cluster (except Kindergarten), ACCESS for ELLs consists of three forms: Tier A (beginning), Tier B (intermediate), and Tier C (advanced). This keeps the test shorter and more appropriately targets each student's range of language skills.                          

* taken from  and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  • - Information about language proficiency assessment and standards
  • - The state of Wisconsin Bilingual and ESL programs.                                
  • - ELL link for Illinois State Board of Education info regarding ELLs.                                                                             

LEARN SPANISH!                                                                                                                                                   Classroom Spanish:   Mira. = Look. (MEE-ra.)                               Ven aquí. = Come here. (Bayn A KEE) 

Escucha = Listen. (Ays-KOO-cha.)                  Siéntate. = Sit down. (See-AYN-tah-tay.)       

Levántate. = Stand up. (Lay-VAHN-tah-tay.)     Escribe. = Write. (Ay-SCREE-bay.)

Please contact ESL staff for additional Spanish language learning opportunities.