Tucson Unified School
District Guide to the Language Rights of Students
Use of Languages Other
than English in TUSD Schools
State laws regarding instruction in structured English immersion
(SEI) classes specify "teachers may use a minimal amount of the child's native
language when necessary" but "no subject matter may be taught in any language
other than English." In other words, whole class instruction should always be
in English, while native language instruction for individuals and small groups
may be appropriate to clarify concepts and ideas not understood in English. The
law's restrictions on language apply only to teachers. The language used by
students is not restricted in any way.
To provide additional guidance in addressing such language-related
questions, TUSD has formulated the points of clarification listed below.
1. The fundamental goal both of English immersion and
bilingual education programs is to ensure that English language learners (ELLs)
acquire English and receive appropriate, comprehensible content instruction.
2. Since all instruction must be comprehensible, the teacher may use a
child's native language as a tool to accelerate the learning of English, as
an approach to making certain that the child learns the grade-level content,
and as an effective behavior management tool.
3. Recognizing that ELLs are more apt to acquire English in a
non-threatening environment that encourages the use of English but also
values students' other languages, Arizona law poses no restrictions on the
use of such languages by students themselves, whether in or out of class.
4. Bilingual dictionaries and other bilingual books are always appropriate
instructional tools, but teachers also may make available materials that are
exclusively in languages other than English so that students may self-select
such books in reading for pleasure or as support for homework.
5. As families are essential members of our school communities, all school
interactions and communications must be in a language that families