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November 14, 2017 05:08 PM

English Language Learners Growing In Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls

Students speak more than 90 languages in the Sioux Falls School District. That's why the district is putting an emphasis on its English Language Learner program.

Last school year, there were 627 new students in the ELL program. That was almost 200 more than the year before.

"It presents us with some staffing issues. We have to get creative and we have to move faculty around. Sometimes we have to hire in the middle of the school year," said Demi Moon, Director of Federal Programs and Assessment with the Sioux Falls School District. 

Moon says they get new ELL students on a weekly basis all year. From elementary through high school, there are nearly 2,400 ELL students in Sioux Falls. 

For kids who need more assistance, there are immersion centers in some buildings.

Nazrawit Zewdie was an immersion student who worked her way up to the ELL classes at George McGovern Middle School.

"It was like kind of boring. When I get to ELL it was like a little bit harder and like start challenging me and stuff. That's when I actually start doing stuff," said Zewdie. 

Zewdie says it was easier for her to adapt because her family already spoke a little English. For others, it's not so simple.

"Some of the kids didn't know much English so it's like kind of hard to communicate. But it was fun," said Zewdie.

Once Zewdie shows she's ready to move on, she'll join students in the regular classrooms.
"The cultural diversity that our students who have never lived anywhere other than Sioux Falls have the opportunity to be exposed to is wonderful," said Moon.

The school district says the average ELL student will be English proficient in 5 to 7 years.

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  • Sioux Falls, SD


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