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What follows are terms related to immigration itself — which can be examined in greater detail at the Web site for United States Immigration Support — and terms related to English Language Learners — which are often acronyms and can be incomprehensible without a ‘definition.’

Accommodation
    An accommodation is when language (spoken or written) is adapted to be more understandable to second language learners. In assessment, accommodations may be made to the presentation, response method, setting, or timing/scheduling of the assessment.

Affective filter
    It’s a "wall" a learner puts up if his/her anxiety level is high. The lower the anxiety level, the lower the filter. ELLs must have a low affective filter in order to learn English. The more comfortable students are in their school environment, the more ready they will be to learn.

Asylee
    An asylee is someone who asks for the protective status while in the United States. In order to qualify for asylum, the individuals must meet certain requirements. These include requesting for asylum while at any U.S. port of entry which include the border, seaport, and airport. In addition, it is mandatory that they submit an application for asylum within a year of being in the country. There are exceptions made to this rule in the case that the individual’s situation changes or if the conditions in their homeland have changed.

Beneficiaries
    Those who receive lawful immigrant status in the United States because of their relationship to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or employers are referred to as beneficiaries.

BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills)
    aka ‘playground English.’ This involves using language for social, face-to-face, everyday situations. It tends to be quite contextualized, providing abundant clues to comprehension. It refers to basic fluency in the language and is acquired very quickly, usually within two years. 

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CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)
    This involves language skills and functions of an academic or cognitive nature. This is the language needed to accomplish academic tasks. There are fewer context clues and students must draw meaning from language itself. CALP takes much longer to acquire, about 5–7 years.

Cognates
    Words in different languages related to the same root, e.g. education (English) and educaciĆ³n (Spanish).

Comprehensible Input
    Comprehensible input means that the spoken or written message is delivered at the learner’s level of comprehension. The concepts being taught should not be simplified, but the language used to present the concepts must be made comprehensible. Basic concepts should be presented in a variety of ways.

Culture Shock
    This is a normal stage in the acculturation process that all newcomers go through. Being in a strange place and losing the power to communicate can disrupt a person’s world view, self-identity, and systems of thinking, acting and feeling. Students feel frustrated, angry, hostile, sad, lonely and homesick. Students may develop physical ailments such as stomach aches and headaches. They are often devastated by the emotional upheaval caused by moving to a new culture. They may exhibit behavior such as depression or sleeplessness. They may become overly aggressive or withdrawn.

Dual language program
    Also known as two-way immersion or two-way bilingual education, these programs are designed to serve both language minority and language majority students concurrently. Two language groups are put together and instruction is delivered through both languages. For example, in the US, native English-speakers might learn Spanish as a foreign language while continuing to develop their English literacy skills and Spanish-speaking ELLs learn English while developing literacy in Spanish. The goals of the program are for both groups to become biliterate, succeed academically, and develop cross-cultural understanding (Howard, 2001).

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ELL (English Language Learner)
    Students whose first language is not English and who are in the process of learning English. This is the more commonly used name than LEP.

(EP) English Proficient
    Native speaker of English.

ESOL or ESL (English to Speakers of Other Languages; English as a Second Language)
    English as a second language (ESL) is an educational approach in which English language learners are instructed in the use of the English language. Their instruction is based on a special curriculum that typically involves little or no use of the native language, focuses on language (as opposed to content) and is usually taught during specific school periods. For the rest of the school day, students may be placed in mainstream classrooms, an immersion program, or a bilingual education program. Every bilingual education program has an ESL component (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1994).

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FLEP (Former Limited English Proficient)
    A student who received ESL services but tested out of the program.

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Green Card
    A Permanent Resident Card is also known as a Green Card. It signifies that the foreign national in possession of it has permission to live and work in the United States as well as to travel abroad and return to the U.S.

Immigration and Nationality Act
    The Immigration and Nationality Act regulates immigration, naturalization, temporary admission, and deportation.

Joint Sponsor
    A joint sponsor is a person who is legally responsible for the support of an immigrant to the United States.

L1
    Native language (first language)

L2
    Second language

LEP (Limited English Proficient)
    Limited English proficient (LEP) is the term used by the federal government, most states and local school districts to identify those students who have insufficient English to succeed in English-only classrooms. Increasingly, English language learner (ELL) or English learner (EL) are used in place of LEP.

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NCLB (No Child Left Behind)
    The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the main federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school. NCLB is built on four principles: accountability for results, more choices for parents, greater local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research.

Newcomer Program
    A newcomer program addresses the needs of recent immigrant students, most often at the middle and high school level, especially those with limited or interrupted schooling in their home countries. Major goals of newcomer programs are to acquire beginning English language skills along with core academic skills and to acculturate to the U.S. school system. Some newcomer programs also include primary language development and an orientation to the student’s new community (Genesee, et al, 1999).

Nonimmigrant
    A nonimmigrant is a foreigner who comes to the United States on a temporary basis. This set period of time is clearly established before the person's arrival.

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Principal Alien
    A principal alien is the foreigner who applies for immigrant status but who may be accompanied by a dependent, usually a spouse or child.

Pull-Out ESL
    Pull-out ESL is a program in which ELLs are “pulled out” of regular, mainstream classrooms for special instruction in English as a second language.

Push-In ESL
    In contrast with pull-out ESL instruction, in push-in ESL, the ESL teacher provides instruction to the ELL by going into the regular classroom and working with the classroom teacher.

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Quota System
    The quota system is a system devised to limit the number of visas awarded to each country for particular kinds of visas.

Refugee
    A refugee is an individual whose admission to the United States is permitted on the basis of a threat of persecution were that person to return to the country they have fled. Refugees are permitted to apply for permanent resident status after one year of uninterrupted presence in the U.S.

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Safe Haven
    Safe haven is protection provided to refugees or asylees whose return to the country they have fled may eventually be possible if conditions there improve.

Scaffolding
    This is a means by which students receive support in various forms from their teachers in an effort to promote skills and understanding, eventually resulting in student independence through the careful reduction of support as students make progress. (Instructional—teach, model, practice, apply) (Procedural—Whole class, small group, paired, independent)

SDAIE
    Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English is a program of instruction in a subject area, delivered in English, which is specially designed to provide ELLs with access to the curriculum.

Sheltered English Instruction
    An instructional approach used to make academic instruction in English understandable to English language learners to help them acquire proficiency in English while at the same time achieving in content areas. Sheltered English instruction differs from ESL in that English is not taught as a language with a focus on learning the language.  Rather, content knowledge and skills are the goals. In the sheltered classroom, teachers use simplified language, physical activities, visual aids, and the environment to teach vocabulary for concept development in mathematics, science, social studies and other subjects (National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, 1987).

SIFE or SWIFE (Students With Interrupted Formal Education)
    Students who either come from countries with the lowest/relatively low literacy rates, who had little or no formal schooling, or who did attend school regularly in their native country but who did not receive “quality” instruction. These students are at least three grade levels behind peers their own age.

SIOP Method (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol)
    A means for making grade-level academic content (science, social studies, math) more accessible for ELLs while at the same time promoting their English language development. Key language features are underscored and various strategies used in order to make content comprehensible.

Silent period
    This is a varying period of time during which a newcomer is unwilling to speak in the second language. Nearly all students go through a silent period. This stage could last for as long as one year. English language learners should not be forced to speak until they are ready to do so, but a supportive environment will encourage them to take the risk.

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Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
    Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is the status awarded to people seeking provisional refuge because conditions in their country—such as war or disaster—pose a risk to their safety and security. TPS is generally granted for 6 to 18 months but can be extended if deemed necessary.

Transfer
    One of the fundamentals of bilingual education is that knowledge and skills learned in the native language may be transferred to English. This holds true for content knowledge and concepts as well as language skills, such as orthography and reading strategies.

USCIS
    USCIS is the abbreviation for United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, a bureau within the Department of Homeland Security.

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