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 understand.