Department of Language Acquisition


Multilingual Learners and World Languages

  • The Department of Language Acquisition prioritizes the health, well-being, and academic progress of our Multilingual Learners (MLLs) and World Language students. This department encompasses several programs, including Bilingual Education, English as a New Language, and World Languages.

    Our main goal is to ensure that all students, especially our Multilingual Learners, experience academically rich, culturally responsive-sustaining, and positive teaching and learning daily to improve their academic, language, and literacy learning outcomes during these unprecedented times.


    Multilingual Learners (MLL) / English Language Learners (ELL) Programs


    Bilingual Education Programs

    Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) offers students of the same home/ primary language the opportunity to learn to speak, understand, read, and write in English while continuing to learn academic content in their home/ primary language. The students’ home/ primary language is used to help them progress academically in all content areas while they acquire English. The goal of the TBE programs at Yonkers Public Schools is to provide students with the opportunity to transition into a monolingual English classroom setting. However, there will always be home language instructional supports, allowing students the opportunity to develop bilingually. Yonkers Public Schools currently offers TBE programs in Spanish at Enrico Fermi School, Robert C. Dodson School, and Yonkers Middle/High School.

    Dual Language (DL) is designed to help native and nonnative English speakers achieve bilingual, biliteracy, cross-cultural competence, and academic proficiency equal to that of students in non-ELL programs. DL teachers provide instruction in both English and the home/primary language. The goal of these programs is for students to develop literacy and proficiency in English and in the home/target language. Yonkers Public Schools currently offers a two-way Dual Language program at Thomas Cornell Academy in grades Pre-K through 4th grade.

    English as a New Language (ENL)

    Formerly known as English as a Second Language, English as a New Language emphasizes English language acquisition. Language arts and content-area instruction are taught in English using specific ENL instructional practices. Some content classes are integrated ENL classes taught by a teacher dually certified in the content area and ENL or are co-taught by a certified content area teacher and a certified ENL teacher. Students receive core content area and English language development instruction, including the use of home/primary language supports and appropriate ELL instructional support to enrich comprehension. In Stand-alone ENL classes, students receive English language development instruction taught in order to acquire the English language needed for success in the core areas. ENL programs are offered in all Yonkers Public Schools.

    Identification and Assessment

    As prescribed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), in Yonkers Public Schools all newly enrolled students and students re-enrolling after two years are required to complete a Home Language Questionnaire (HLQ) at the time of enrollment. Through the HLQ and an interview by a qualified teacher, the District will assess if a language other than English is used in the home and if the child must take the English language proficiency test, New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL). The NYSITELL results are then used to determine your child’s English language level (Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding,and Commanding). During the spring, the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) is administered annually to all Multilingual Learners in grades K-12 in order to assess student English language proficiency growth, determine continuation of services, and be in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidelines and the CR Part 154.

    Based on the NYSITELL assessment, children who score entering, emerging, transitioning or expanding are identified as an ELL. ELLs are entitled to receive Bilingual Education (BE) or English as a New Language (ENL) services. Children who score at the Commanding (Proficient) level are not identified as an ELL.

    Parent Brochures (22 languages) about Identification and Assessment of MLLs/ELLs:


    World Languages

    World Language instruction is an integral part of the academic program for secondary students in grades 7-12. Students gain proficiency in World Languages and also gain knowledge and understanding of cultural, geographical, and economic qualities associated with the languages studied. Currently, Yonkers Public Schools offers Italian and Spanish. Courses range from introductory courses, to college level language courses and Spanish for Heritage Speakers.

    Identification and Assessment

    Most 8th graders can take Checkpoint A exams in Italian or Spanish. High school students can take Checkpoint B examinations in Italian or Spanish. These checkpoint exams are scheduled near the end of the school year, in the month of June. Details about the exam date and times can be found at the NYSED State Assessment website:

    New York State Seal of Biliteracy

    The NYSSB recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in English and one or more world languages.  The intent of the NYSSB is to encourage the study of languages, to identify high school graduates with language and biliteracy skills for employers, to provide universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission and placement, to prepare students with twenty-first century skills, to recognize the value of language instruction, and to affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society.  Successful candidates will earn three points in English and three points in each world language from a points matrix, which includes course grades, national and state exams, transcripts, and culminating projects.  The NYSSB takes the form of a Seal on the student's diploma and a medallion worn at graduation.

    In 2021-2022, eight schools awarded 172 NYS Seals of Biliteracy to 12th graders who demonstrated proficiency in English and Albanian, Arabic, Hindi, Italian, Malayalam, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Twi, and Urdu. Since 2018, Yonkers is proud to celebrate over 200 high school graduates who earned Regents Diplomas with Advanced Designation and successfully earning the Seal of Biliteracy. Read about our ongoing successes in the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages May-June 2022 Newsletter (p. 4)


    Ms. Lissette Colón-Collins
    Assistant Superintendent