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English as a Second Language

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The Elementary ESL Program teaches children in grades 1 to 8 how to communicate in English effectively. A strong command of the English language will help make your child successful in Canadian society.

English Language Learners (ELLs) are supported by System Itinerant ESL/ELD Teachers. While every elementary school in HWDSB has access to a System Itinerant ESL/ELD Teacher, the amount of support available to schools depends upon the number of ELLs in the school population.

Some schools have a full-time System Itinerant ESL/ELD teacher on-site providing students in the early stages of language acquisition with English language literacy instruction or in-class support. Many schools have a System Itinerant ESL/ELD teacher making daily or weekly scheduled visits. These teachers also provide regularly scheduled literacy instruction or in-class support to the ELLs in those schools. Other schools have a System Itinerant ESL/ELD teacher who visits the school periodically to work with staff on effective instructional strategies for ELLs in their classes.

When working with students, the System Itinerant ESL/ELD teachers employ a Balanced Literacy approach, adapted for ELLs, that allows students to acquire English literacy skills and develop oral communication proficiency by simultaneously developing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills through authentic, meaningful tasks. The System Itinerant ESL/ELD teachers also provide support to student learning in all other subject areas through in-class support and capacity-building with their colleagues.

How to get Started

The first step in enrolling your son or daughter in the Elementary ESL program.

An ESL Assessment

  • Gathers information regarding educational history and background
  • Assesses students to determine proficiency in Mathematics, English and first language.
  • Identifies the appropriate level of language and literacy acquisition.
  • Informs teachers of program adaptations and instructional strategies.
  • Provides information on programs available within the school board and the community.

Who Needs to be Assessed?

  • Students who are new to Canada, entering the Ontario school system for the first time and whose first language is not English.
  • Grades 1 – 8 students who are re-entering the Ontario school system after an absence of two or more years and whose first language is not English
  • Grades 9 – 12 students who are re-entering the Ontario school system after an absence of one term
  • Any students from a French-language school in Canada.
  • All International students.
  • All students who attended schools where English was not the language of instruction.

NOTE:  Children entering junior or senior kindergarten are not assessed at the Welcome Centre.

Documents that may be needed at the Assessment

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Immigration Documents
  • Permanent Resident Card or Canadian Citizenship Card
  • Proof of Address and Telephone Number
  • School documents (report cards, transcripts), if available

How does a Newcomer register a child in grades 1-8?

  • Parents and children go to their home school to be registered.
  • The school registers child(ren) and processes information.
  • The school makes an appointment for the family with the Welcome Centre.
  • Children can begin attending school as soon as they are registered.
  • Child(ren) and parent(s)/guardian(s) attend the Welcome Centre for the scheduled appointment with required documentation.

Phone (905) 521-2554 and book an assessment today!

Additional Links and Resources:

Practical Guide for Ontario Educators Gr 1 – 8

Many Roots Many Voices

Ministry’s Multilingual Parent Information Page

Resource Description Features for ESL and Accessibility
Unite for Literacy A multilingual free digital library for preschool and primary learners that celebrates cultures and languages. Read Aloud
Sora (Emax) eMAX is HWDSB’s e-book and e-audiobook library. Use it to find a book to read or to listen to. A valid student OEN (9 digit) of staff ID (7 digit) is required to borrow books. Multilingual books available in 24 different languages
Go to Preferences > languages > select language > apply
Storyline Online Video recordings of celebrities reading a huge variety of popular children’s books. Videos come with teacher and parent. Select Youtube read aloud.
To access multilingual subtitles go to:
Settings (gear icon) > select subtitles > auto translate > choose preferred language
Storybooks Canada Storybooks Canada is a free open educational resource that promotes literacy and language learning in homes, schools, and communities. Multilingual
5 different reading levels
Read aloud
Adjust reading speed
Books are downloadable
Scholastic Education  “Talk About” ELL Series Fun and engaging writing and reading activities for ELLs that develop vocabulary in science and social studies Excellent Visuals
Story Weaver A free digital library of multilingual books from around the world. Stories are levelled and cover a wide range of topics. Multilingual
Reads aloud
Learn English  Kids K-8 Free English language learning online games, songs, stories and activities for children K-8 Interactive activities, videos, read alouds
Britannica School Elementary An engaging website about a variety of topics for students to explore. Two different reading levels are available to match student level. Translation, Text to voice
Read Aloud, Font options Reading level options
ESL at Home Low tech ideas and available in many languages.

Every effort has been made to acknowledge original sources and to comply with copyright law. If cases are identified where this has not been done, please use the Contact Us tab. Errors or omissions will be corrected.

If you have any further questions regarding ESL/ELD programming, please contact the HWDSB Welcome Centre at 905-521-2554.

Updated on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
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