Empire Gardens Elementary
Empire Gardens Elementary
English Learners Program

English Learner Programs and Support

English Learners (ELs) are students who speak a language other than English at home and are not yet fluent in English.  When a student enters school, parents complete the Home Language Survey.  If a language other than English is indicated on the survey, state tests are used to determine whether a student is designated an English Learner or is already fluent in English.

ELs need support in learning a new language along with learning mathematics, reading, and writing.  Empire Gardens values the languages and cultures that our English Learners bring to school.  We provide support in the acquisition of English and participation in rigorous academics through our academic programs (Academic Language Acquisition (ALA) and Structured English Immersion (SEI) as well as English Language Development (ELD).

Academic Language Acquisition (ALA):

Academic Language Acquisition (ALA) is an instructional program for Spanish speaking students in grades K-3 that accelerates the acquisition of English through an academic program that develops students’ literacy in their primary language, Spanish, in grades K-2. This gives students a solid foundation across the content areas while they are acquiring English.  They transition to a program primarily in English during their 3rd grade year.  In 4th and 5th grades, students are instructed entirely in English.  ELs in the ALA program receive 45 minutes of structured ELD daily along with phonics instruction in English. ALA teachers have a special teaching credential for instructing in Spanish and English, and for meeting the needs of their English Learners.  Students who attend Transitional Kindergarten (TK) in an English classroom are not eligible for the ALA program in Kindergarten.

Link to a video describing the SJUSD ALA program model here:
Hear from parents and experts about SJUSD’s Academic Language Acquisition (ALA) program and how it helps your child transition.
*At this time, this video is only available in Spanish

Structured English Immersion (SEI):

Structured English Immersion (SEI) is a program for all students that incorporates strategies for developing English while learning academics.  Teachers have credentials for working with English Learners and incorporate the development of English language throughout the day.  Instruction is entirely in English. ELs in the SEI program receive 45 minutes of structured ELD daily.

English Language Development (ELD):

Classes are regrouped, and students learn English with their peers who are at a similar language level for 45 minutes of structured ELD each day.  Students are provided many opportunities to talk, listen, read, and write in English through engaging thematic units.


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