English Language Learners

Date came into force or revised

March 3, 1999.  Revised, November 2011. Updated July 1, 2012



Policy statement

English Language Learning services assist students to become proficient in English, to develop both intellectually and as citizens, and to achieve the expected learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum.

Rationale or purpose of policy

This policy provides expectations and guidance to BC schools about English Language Learning services so that students whose primary language or languages of the home are not English can develop their individual potential within British Columbia’s school system.


Policy in full

English Language Learning (ELL) services are provided to assist students to become proficient in English, to develop both intellectually and as citizens, and to achieve the expected learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum.

Students receiving ELL services are called English language learners. Some students who speak variations of English that differ significantly from the English used in the broader Canadian society may need similar services to access the curriculum.

Boards of education identify and report English language learners to the Ministry of Education.

Boards provide educational programs and ELL services for English language learners based on the following expectations.

Educational Programs

Program planning should recognize the objective of integration into the mainstream school program as soon as feasible in order to achieve the expected learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum.

English language learners must follow provincial curriculum except where they are unable to demonstrate learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes set out in the applicable educational program guide for a course or subject and grade (Required Areas of Study in an Educational Program Order (PDF)).

To graduate, English language learners must meet the requirements of the Graduation Program Order (PDF). Schools may adapt instructional assessment methods, provide more time, and/or adapt educational materials to give these students the greatest opportunity possible to achieve the learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum.

Where English language learners cannot demonstrate their learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum, school districts should ensure that appropriate ELL services, including English language instruction, are provided.
The English language learner’s program should focus on the acquisition of language, knowledge, and cultural understanding that will enable the student to access the provincially prescribed curriculum.

Over time it is expected that support levels will diminish as students progress successfully in a fully integrated program.

Service should be adjusted on the basis of an ongoing review of student performance.

Progress reporting

The reporting requirements for English language learners who are following the provincial curriculum for a course, subject or grade are the same as for other students. These requirements are described in the Student Progress Report Order (PDF). Letter grades, and percentages where appropriate, must be used to indicate students' levels of performance in relation to the prescribed learning outcomes.

Letter grades are not appropriate where English language learners are not yet able, due to their level of language proficiency, to follow the provincial curriculum or a course in a locally developed program. In that case, progress reports must contain information describing what the students can do, areas in which they require further attention or development, and ways of supporting them in their learning.

Teachers have the professional obligation to report progress only for students whom they have personally instructed and evaluated. Where an ELL specialist is responsible for providing some portion of a student's educational program, s/he should provide written information on the student's progress for inclusion with the report of the classroom teacher.

Progress reports for an English language learner must include reporting on the student’s progress in the acquisition of English.

Effective reporting should recognize language and cultural differences of the student and his family. Wherever possible and appropriate, interpreters should be provided for parent/teacher conferences.


The Ministry of Education provides supplemental funding to school districts to enable them to deliver English Language Learning services to ELL students.

Procedures related to policy

For a school district to receive ELL funding for a student reported to the Ministry as an English language learner, all of the following procedures must be met and documented:

  • An annual assessment of English language proficiency has determined that the student’s use of English is sufficiently different from standard English that she or he is identified as requiring specialized services.  These services will enable the student  to adjust to the linguistic and cultural environment in order to be successful in the British Columbia school system.
  • An annual instructional plan is designed to meet the needs of the student.
  • Specialized ELL services are provided for each student, documented in a list or schedule
  • Progress in the acquisition of English is reported to parents in regular reporting periods, and evidence of reports is documented.
  • An ELL specialist is involved in planning and delivering services.
  • Additional ELL services must be provided and may include the following: 
    •  individual and/or small group instruction
    • reception classes
    • pull-out services
    • additional services provided within the regular classroom environment.
  • When the additional services provided to the student are adaptations within the regular classroom, there must be documentation of support provided that is specifically designed to address linguistic needs of each student identified in the assessment referenced above.
  • Progress reporting includes reporting on the student’s progress in the acquisition of English.