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EL and Dual Language Programming

District 401 is committed to supporting the English language development of all English-learning students so they can achieve English language proficiency, grow linguistically and socially, and meet the rigorous academic demands expected of all D401 students.

District Bilingual/EL Director and Language Coach

Natalia Gomez is our Bilingual/EL Director, in addition to her role as Assistant Principal of John Mills School. Exciting updates in the English Learner department include increased opportunities for self-contained groups for newcomers and full-time English Learners K-12, as well as a new curriculum with robust EL components to differentiate learning and target language needs across levels. We are also proud to now have a Ukrainian EL teacher at each building.

Our commitment to English Learners is strengthened by a position dedicated to supporting EL instruction: District Language Coach, Dominique Byrnes. As District language coach, she Byrnes provides the leadership, professional development and data-driven support needed to increase achievement for EL students districtwide.

Contact Information

Feel free to contact Ms. Natalia Gomez, District 401's Bilingual/EL Director, at 708-583-6284.

District 401’s Policy on English Learners

EL instruction in District 401 is governed by the Board of Education's policy on English Learners, which can be found in Section 6:160 of the District Policy Manual.

Continuum of EL Services

Nearly 60 teachers across District 401's four schools have English learner (EL) certification, an indication of the District's commitment to serving our diverse student population.

As part of its wide range of EL programs, District 401 offers the following continuum of services to English learners.

Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE)

Illinois public schools are required to offer Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) programs when there are 20 or more English learners from the same language background in a school.

District 401's TBE programs are available to students in pre-K through 12th grade in Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish. They provide bilingual instruction moving toward a gradual increase in English language instruction to support the academic achievement of our Spanish language students.

District 401 provides two types of TBE programs:

Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI)

Illinois public schools have the option to offer TPI services instead of TBE programs when there are 19 or fewer students from the same language background in a school.

For District 401, this means we offer TPI services to students in pre-K through 12th grade who speak languages other than Spanish, Ukrainian or Polish. We support these students within the general education setting by using the collaboration approach.

English learners are placed in classes with non-ELs. Core academic subjects are taught in English. Co-teaching instruction in core academic subjects using specific strategies for English learners is provided, or the ESL-endorsed mainstream classroom teacher differentiates language instruction and uses specific strategies for English learners. ESL instruction is provided.

Newcomers Program

Students who are new to learning English may also qualify for our newcomers program.

Newcomers benefit from a short-term program that teaches English and acculturation to the United States. Students have targeted language instruction for short periods of time separate from their native English-speaking peers. 

In 2019, the program expanded to include a "Newcomers Camp" as part of District 401's Summer Academy. This is a multi-week class for incoming students who are English language newcomers (recent immigrants). Eligibility is based on English Learners' criteria. Tuition is covered by the District's Title III funding.

Student EL Identification

Illinois requires that any child registering in a public school district have a completed Home Language Survey (HLS) on file.

District 401 uses the HLS to identify and screen any student who speaks a language other than English or lives in a home where a language other than English is spoken.

It is essential that this is answered truthfully to provide your child with the appropriate services. If your child speaks a language other than English (fluently) or another language is spoken in the home (regularly), please answer yes.

Curricular Resources

District 401 has adopted new Language Arts curriculums K-12 being implemented this 2024-25 school year. These programs have ample EL components to support our English Learners instruction.  

K-5 McGraw Hills Wonders

6-12 McGraw Hill StudySync

Teachers that support Language Learners also utilize resources, such as Reading A-Z, IXL, Estrellita, Hands On English and Flashlight 360 to target language objectives, differentiate the general education curriculum and progress monitoring growth in acquisition.

Seal of Biliteracy

The Illinois Seal of Biliteracy award is intended to include students who speak a language other than English at home as well as those who are completing a course of study in a world language through high school. Being bilingual is an asset for everyone and a valuable skill in today’s global society. Language curriculums that guide students toward the Seal of Biliteracy encourage students to use their language skills rather than just learn about a language. The Seal gives students something tangible to strive for as they work to learn new languages and/or maintain their home language during their studies. 

The Illinois State Seal of Biliteracy is an award presented at graduation in recognition of attaining a high level of proficiency in English and in one or more other languages. It is officially designated on a student’s transcript and high school diploma.

Information will be shared with High School students and families in December. Students have the opportunity to take language proficiency tests in February/March. Results will be in by April. Students are honored at the annual Cultural Heritage Celebration. 

Click here to see the record number of EPHS students who obtained the Seal during the 2023-24 school year.

Annual Cultural Heritage Celebration

Besides receiving rigorous standards-based instruction, EL students also have the opportunity each spring to participate in the District's annual Cultural Heritage Celebration.

The event features cultural performances by EL students in their home languages, as well as displays, learning activities, and a festive community dinner.

All families are encouraged to be involved in the planning and invited to join the fun!

If you are the parent or legal guardian of an English Learner, you are invited to participate in the District 401 Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee (BPAC).

All other members of the District's EL community, including anyone involved in Dual Language programming or Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) services, are invited to participate as well.

2024-25 Meeting Schedule coming soon

What Is BPAC?

BPAC is a committee required for public school districts that have bilingual programs.

The committee consists of bilingual program parents, legal guardians of ELs, TBE/TPI teachers, counselors or other school personnel and EL community leaders. 

The majority of members are parents/guardians of children in the program. Membership is representative of the languages served by the District.

Our activities include the following: 

  • We review the District's bilingual service plan

  • We receive training from the District to make informed decisions

  • We provide information regarding the English learner program for the D401 community

  • We participate in the planning, operation and evaluation of bilingual and EL programs

  • We meet to plan parent evenings

After forming, the committee operates autonomously, including the election of officers and the establishment of internal rules and procedures.

Our Goals

BPAC's goals are to:

  • Advocate for students in the bilingual and EL programs in District 401

  • Help make decisions regarding the bilingual and EL programs in District 401

  • Connect with other parents in District 401

  • Support the academic achievement of EL student(s) by attending workshops, conferences and other events for bilingual parents

Contact Information

The contact person for additional information about BPAC is Natalia Gomez, the District’s Bilingual/EL Director. You can reach her at 708-583-6284 or gomezn@epcusd401.org.