❮ English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL) Resource Guide

About This Resource Guide

English as a Second Language (ESL) classes teach people whose first language isn’t English to speak, read, and write English. These inspiring English Language Learners (ELLs) strive to achieve their goals to advance their careers and support their communities.

In this resource guide, you’ll learn about ESL goal setting, lesson planning, student eligibility, testing accommodations, classes in Eastern North Carolina, and mobile apps.


  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • English as a New Language (ENL)
  • English Learner (EL)
  • English Language Acquisition (ELA)
  • English Language Learners (ELLs)
  • North Carolina (NC)
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI)
  • World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA)
English Alphabet, Pen and Paper, Letter, Globe, and Laptop

Teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs)

Goal Setting and Lesson Planning Resources

Teachers working with an ESL Specialist use WIDA's Can Do Descriptors* to set student learning goals so they can progress through the English Language Acquisition (ELA) process.

*Available in English and Spanish.

Since some schools don’t have an ESL Specialist, ask your school’s administration about ESL services.

Teachers prepare lesson plans with activities to help ESL students apply what they know and learn new skills. If teachers notice ESL students struggling to meet their goals, they can provide instruction in small groups (Tier 2) and target specific skills (Tier 3).

Bladen County Public Schools has an MTSS resource packet for teachers. The "Quick Facts" sheet on page 4 and the flow charts on pages 33-34 are great starting points to review how the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) work.

Testing Accommodations and Scheduling Resources

Teachers provide specific testing accommodations for each eligible ESL student. The English Learner (EL) Documentation Testing Accommodations Chart and the Guidelines for Testing Students Identified as English Learners explain the ESL testing process in detail.

WIDA updates its testing schedule before the school year begins. Since WIDA test results let ESL students know if they are achieving their English learning goals, North Carolina teachers must lesson plan with these testing dates in mind and prepare accordingly.

English Alphabet, Pie Chart, Paper Airplane, Calendar, and Lightbulb

Parents/Guardians of ESL Students

Home Language Survey and ESL Services Eligibility

Parents/guardians enrolling a student fill out school paperwork, including a home language survey asking questions about a student's language(s). This survey helps students access screening (Kindergarten W-APT or the WIDA Screener) to determine their eligibility for ESL services.

Testing Accommodations

After screening, parents/guardians of eligible students will receive a letter from the school to sign-up for ESL services. Students entering the ESL program take yearly English proficiency tests, and their test scores determine their eligibility for testing accommodations.

Below are some examples of testing accommodations:

  • A student uses a dictionary or an electronic translator.
  • A student reads the test out loud to themselves.
  • A teacher reads the test out loud in English to the student.
  • A student takes the test within multiple sessions with breaks or over a certain number of days.
  • A student takes the test with a time extension.
  • A student tests in a separate room.

Exiting ESL Services

Students can exit ESL services if they score greater than or equal to a 4.8 on the annual English proficiency test (ACCESS for ELLs). If a student tests out, they will no longer take yearly proficiency exams or qualify for ESL testing accommodations.

English Alphabet, Messages, Megaphone, Folder, and Clipboard

Adult ESL Classes

Many community colleges offer free or low-cost ESL classes for adults living in Eastern North Carolina.

Click the link below for a detailed list of community colleges that offer ESL classes.
English Alphabet, Calculator, Coin, Pen, and Clock

Mobile Apps

  • Mango is a pay-to-use app that offers ESL courses to users according to their first language.
  • Duolingo is a free language learning app that offers an English course to users. (Premium app features cost money.)
  • WordReference is a free app and website that offers a dictionary, translation dictionary, thesaurus, grammar, and verb conjugation section.
  • Linguee is a free app and website that offers a translation dictionary with internet examples.
  • Google Translate is a free app and website that offers text translation. (Translations may not be accurate.)