When parents register children for school, one of the documents they fill out is a Home Language Survey. The purpose of the home language survey is to determine if any other language in addition to English is spoken at home. If additional languages are spoken by parents, caretakers, or children at home, we assess the English language proficiency of students with one of the state required language screening assessments, namely W-APT or MODEL, and the guidance provided to determine whether the student is or is not an ELL. We must test all identified ELL students who are new to Massachusetts, regardless of birthplace.
The home language survey tells us whom to test for English language proficiency. Many of the students who are tested, however, will not be eligible for the ELL program. Students may be dominant in English, fully bilingual, or multi-lingual. Nonetheless, we test students to protect their rights, and preserve a space for them should they need it.
Sensitivity about the Home Language Survey
Occasionally parents express anxiety over the need for the home language survey. They worry that their child will be segregated, or stigmatized for their cultural background, or the languages their parents or grandparents speak. In Bedford Public Schools, children are integrated in their classrooms. Most teachers in the district have earned the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement to better enable them to understand and meet the needs of ELL students. Finally, we are fortunate that in BPS, all children may begin study of a second language in third grade. Should any child have the natural advantage of a heritage language, we urge you to keep up the good news, and share it with us at registration! Being able to get extra instruction in English when a child needs it can be a critical advantage for ELL students.