English Language Learner (ELL) Resources

ELL: English Language Learner

Someone who's first or main language is something other than English

What does ELL mean?

ELL means English Language Learner. If your first language isn't English, then you can qualify as an English Language Learner. We used to use the term ESL (English as a Second Language), but many people speak more than just two languages. English might actually be their third or fourth or fifth language! "ESL" is now used to refer to specific courses or classes that ELLs may take.

You can be an ELL that has just arrived in Canada from another country, or you can be an ELL who was born in Canada but your main language isn't English.

Accommodations for the OSSLT

For ELLs, the OSSLT can be complicated since since the test is evaluating your skills in a new language. So to help you, there are some accommodations that you are allowed to have. You have to check with your English teacher or your guidance councellor to make sure that you have all of the supports you're supposed to have.

Some accommodations for ELLs include:

  • Extra time (up to double the amount normally given)
  • Any accommodations that you have for regular classroom evaluations

How do I get identified as an ELL?

Getting officially identified as an ELL is a process that begins when you start at Ontario public schools. For many high school students, this means that you may have been identified as an ELL while you were in elementary school. For new Canadians, you can start the identification process when you enroll in school.

Students do an initial assessment that will look at their abilities in speaking, reading, and writing in English, and their overall literacy and numeracy skills. Schools will then decide what supports are appropriate for the ELL and what that student might need to succeed in an English school.

You can talk to the guidance counselors or anyone in Resource for more information about getting identified as an ELL.

STEP: A Resource for ELLs

After the initial assessment, ELLs will be identified on the STEP framework. This scale shows where you are at with your language skills in the different areas (speaking, reading, writing, etc.), and it helps teachers to know what kinds of support you might need in the classroom.

To learn more about STEP, take a look at the STEP rubric that teachers use to help support ELLs in Ontario schools. This is a blank version, but normally your level would be identified for each of the categories on this chart depending on where you're at with your skills.

Nepean Copy of Blank STEP

Take a look at this short video that talks more about STEP and how STEP is used by teachers and students

For more information...

Talk to your English teacher or your guidance counsellor. You can also go see anyone in the Guidance office (room 2201, right underneath the main office) and they can help you find answers to your questions.