Bilingual Education & ESOL Programs

Evelyn Robles-Rivas, Ph.D.
Supervisor of Language and Community Partnerships
165 Miller Street

The Office of Bilingual Education:

The Office of Bilingual Education Programs is charged with the identification and assessment of language dominance and proficiency of all new students entering the Meriden Public Schools whose first language is not English. This office handles the placement, progress and exit procedures for all English Language Learners in the Meriden Public Schools.

The Bilingual Education Program Highlights:

The Bilingual Education Program (Spanish) is a mandated program from the Connecticut State Department of Education. The Bilingual Education Program in Meriden continues to be transitional in nature. As the year progresses the content area instruction flows from native language into English. The curricula is the same as for the mainstream students, at their appropriate grade level.  In addition, the students’ individual cultures are highlighted and celebrated within the instructional program.

After the 1999 Bilingual Education law passed and it became a State Legislative statute, three significant requirements changed the instructional model of Bilingual Education in Meriden. These changes are namely:

  1. The 30-month limit for students to stay in a bilingual education program
  2. By the end of the first year of instruction students need to have their content area instruction delivered  in English for over fifty percent of the time, and
  3. Qualifying students can not participate in a bilingual education program with less than thirty months to graduation (students arriving at or after grade 10). 

In order to get English Language Learners (ELLs) in Bilingual Education ready for mainstream classes, an accelerated English program has been implemented. More instruction in English is encouraged earlier in the school year, so that the students can obtain greater exposure of the English language. The use of the native language continues to be supported in the recent arrival classroom and it is used to maintain a basic level of content comprehension.

The District-Wide Bilingual Education Program in Meriden ranges from kindergarten to grade 12 at the following schools:

  • Thomas Hooker School (K-2);
  • Hanover (2-5)
  • Lincoln Middle School (6-8)
  • Maloney High School (9-12)

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program Highlights:

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program is a district-wide program implemented at six elementary schools (Barry, Franklin, Hale, Pulaski, Putnam, and Sherman), Washington Middle School, Platt and Maloney High Schools.  The ESOL Program continues to support the linguistic and academic development of ELLs in our district.

English Language Learners (ELLs) who qualify for the ESOL program come from more than 30 different language backgrounds. New students in grades K-12, who qualify for the ESOL Program, enter our schools throughout the academic year. Students whose parents refused services for the mandated Bilingual Education Program are supported by ESOL services at their respective neighborhood schools. Students from foreign countries, new to the Meriden School System, arrive with limited exposure to both the American educational system and culture. They often have gaps in their education due to many factors. These may include: mobility, age upon arrival, ranges of skills, diversity in educational background, and expectations of schooling, etc.

In the Meriden Public Schools, the ESOL Program staff recognizes that:

  • The number of ELLs continues to increase annually
  • The education of ELLs is the responsibility of all teaching personnel
  • The acquisition of a second language is a challenging and complex process
  • It is important to maintain the students’ native language and validate the students’ culture to promote self esteem

In order to ensure success in all content areas for ELLs enrolled in a mainstream setting, they need to develop Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), and academic English language early on in their school careers.