Multilingual Learner Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Multilingual Learner Programs and Services FAQs

Find the Multilingual Learner Program Guides in seven languages which provide parents/guardians with key information for students who are Multilingual Learners, including programs, assessments, and support services. And review the FAQ's below if you need more information.

How do I determine which langauge program is best for my child?

Your family decides which program is best for your student. All language programs are based on research and aim to honor and celebrate language learning and diverse cultures and are described in the Multilingual Learner Program Guide. Enrollment Center staff can answer questions and provide information about each of the programs and schools, so you can choose the best program for your child.

What are the major differences between the Biliteracy and the Dual Language Immersion Programs?

Biliteracy Programs are for students who are fluent in their home language, either Cantonese or Spanish. In these programs, most students are learning English while developing literacy in their home language. Dual Language Immersion Programs serve students who are fluent only in their home language, students who are only fluent in English, and students who are bilingual. In SFUSD, we have Dual Language Immersion programs in Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish.

When will my child get English instruction in a Biliteracy or Dual Language Immersion program?

The amount of English language instruction increases every year, from 20-50 percent in Kindergarten to 50-70 percent in 4th and 5th grades. Additionally, English learners receive daily designated English language development instruction daily. Students are grouped by proficiency level. 

I want to enroll my child in a Dual Language Immersion program and we speak the target language at home. Why is my child assessed in that language?

Students must demonstrate proficiency in the respective program language even when the program language is indicated in the home language survey. This ensures the dual language model and the integrity of the program is maintained.

If my child has been assessed as non-proficient in the program language, can s/he retake the assessment?

Students are allowed to take the assessment once per school year. They are welcome to try again in the following school year.

Can I switch programs for my child if I do not like the program that s/he is in?

During the enrollment period, students may switch programs. Transfers are accepted on a semester basis, but it is crucial to consider the availability of space in your preferred program and school. School transfers applications are submitted through the Enrollment Center.

For the Dual Language Programs, will my child fall behind in English if instruction is mostly in the program language?

Studies have shown that some students might temporarily perform at a lower level in English in comparison to their counterparts learning only in English. Research demonstrates that students in Dual Language Programs consistently meet or outperform their peers learning in general education settings. The goal of Dual Language Programs is for students to achieve fluency in both languages by 5th grade.

What if I am interested in a language program for my child that does not exist for his or her school?

If the school your student is enrolled in does not offer a particular language program, you may submit a request to create a program by completing a language program request form. The form contains important information regarding the process and criteria.

How was my child identified as an English Learner?

Your child is classified as an English Learner (EL) IF when you filled out the “Home Language Survey” on the SFUSD Enrollment Application, you answered at least one of the following questions with a language other than English AND your child did not receive an overall score of “Initial Fluent English Proficient” on the Initial English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC). In SFUSD, we are intentionally shifting our lexicon to the term multilingual learner in lieu of using the term English learner. Multilingual Learners refer to students who are learning English as a new language while honoring, preserving, and developing the academic proficiency of students' home languages whenever available. When discussing students who are classified as English Learners (ELs), we will refer to them as Multilingual Learners (MLs). 

This page was last updated on May 29, 2024