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Identifying and Meeting a Child’s Language Needs

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My son was adopted from a foreign country @ age 7. He is now 9 years old, in the 3rd grade. He did not speak English upon his arrival in this country.

We have formally requested (& it has been documented) 3 times, that he be placed in the SLD Resource Program.

He is currently given the title of ESOL student, although he has never attended an ESOL school.

Can you tell me what the Federal Law says about the requirements for qualifying a child designated ESOL for an SLD classification?

We all know that children must be proficient in English before they can become proficient in other subjects. If your child does not speak or understand English well, the IEP team needs to ensure that your child's language needs are identified and met.

The team must get an assessment of your child's English proficiency. This assessment must include objective data about your child's reading, writing, speaking, and understanding skills.

NE DOE has checklist for determining need and services -


If your child's English is limited, the school must provide alternative language services to help him become proficient in English. He is entitled to all educational services provided by the school, including special education and related services.

If he is not proficient in English, the IEP team must ensure that special education and related services are provided in his native language. The IEP must specify his needs for instruction in English and/or his native language, and his needs for English language tutoring.

If your child has a disability and is eligible for special education and related services, the IEP team must review his language needs as they develop his IEP. The team must determine how his limited English affects his needs for special education and related services.

The IEP team needs to make decisions about:

Whether he will receive instruction in English and/or in his native language so he can participate in the general curriculum
Whether he needs tutoring in English as a service in his IEP to meet his individual needs
Whether the special education and related services he needs will be provided in his native language.
If your child needs test accommodations that are allowed for general ed students with limited English proficiency (e.g. increased time, translating directions into the student's native language, etc.), these accommodations should be written in his IEP.

Search your state dept of ed web site - you can often find great help there.

Use Google to search for information. Be creative in your search terms. Search for information using terms like this: "limited English proficiency" "special factors" "IEP" "language needs" etc.

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net