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English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) are students who are learning English and mastering academic content at the same time. There are approximately 140,000 ELLs in the city’s public schools, and they are a diverse group. Among them, they speak some 158 languages. Some are newly arrived from other countries; others were born and raised in New York speak a language other than English at home. They are in every grade and every borough. It is a rare teacher that does not have at least a few ELLs in class.


The school system offers a variety of instructional settings for these students — ENL classes (both stand-alone and integrated), dual language programs and transitional bilingual education. State education law and New York City Department of Education policy govern some aspects of ELL instruction. You will find policies, regulation and guidance below: 

Support ELLs at your school

If English language learners in your school are not receiving required educational services, parents' rights are not being respected or educators are not receiving appropriate and sufficient professional development to serve ELLs, tell us.

File an ELL complaint

Where to get help and more information

  • Contact your chapter leader if you have questions or concerns about ELL issues in your building. Additional support is available through your district representative in your UFT borough office.
  • Questions regarding laws, regulations and policies may be addressed to ELL specialist Katie Kurjakovic at through the office of the UFT's Vice President for Education, Mary Vaccaro.
  • See the UFT's Tips and Resources for Newly-Arrived ELL students
  • English Language Learners Complaint FormThis complaint form, for use by educators, parents and other concerned individuals, will ensure English language learners (ELLs) receive the services and supports they need to succeed. Tell us why you feel students are not receiving required educational services or parents’ rights are not being respected, especially those required under Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154. We also want to know if educators are receiving appropriate and sufficient professional development to help serve ELLs.

How does the UFT support members who work with ELLs?

The UFT supports members who work with ELLs by:

  1. Providing information on laws, regulations and policies;
  2. Assisting members and parents in understanding and working with state laws and mandates;
  3. Providing professional development on ELL instructional strategies and best practices through the UFT Teacher Center
  4. Assisting members with the ELL services complaints process;
  5. Collaborating with parents and advocates to improve services and opportunities for ELLs;
  6. Visiting schools at the request of chapter leaders to discuss ELL issues;
  7. Holding citywide meetings to promote clarity regarding changes in policy and practice; and
  8. Engaging members in legislative, regulatory and instructional initiatives.

See resources for supporting effective instruction »
See the UFT's tips and resources for newly-arrived ELL students »