Welcome to ESL Portal PA!

This portal is designed as a “one-stop” online repository of information to support Pennsylvania educators and community organizations in the creation of equitable, high quality educational programs for English language learners (ELLs) and their families. These resources include professional development opportunities, updated federal and state guidance, current educational research, best practice guidelines, and more.

Click the buttons below to view upcoming professional development opportunities by topic:

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$100 Pennsylvania Educator Discount for the WIDA 2016 National Conference
Drawing on Life’s Experiences: Designing Bright Futures
October 12-15, 2016; Philadelphia, PA
WIDA’s annual conference provides preK-12 educators of language learners, opportunities for professional learning, idea sharing, relationship building and strategic collaboration.

The $100 Pennsylvania Educator Discount is ONLY available to: content teachers, administrators or ESL coordinators and/or specialists employed in Pennsylvania school districts, charter schools, comprehensive CTCs or Intermediate Units, and Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program staff. Discount offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in partnership with the Center for Schools and Communities.

Request your conference discount code at ESL@csc.csiu.org before you register.

More Information and Conference Registration


What’s New

2015-16 School Year Reminders
Welcome to the 2015-16 school year! To enable you to start off on the right foot and have a successful year, important materials related to your language instruction educational program and the education of your English language learners have been compiled. This helpful information includes a series of reminders, informational updates and schedules.

2015 PA Migrant Education Program and ESL Conference Presentation Slides and Handouts
On November 16-18, 2015, over 300 professionals from across the state attended the 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Education Migrant Education Program and English as a Second Language Conference – Education without Borders: Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

To build on the learning opportunities and conversations generated by the conference, select presenters have agreed to share their presentation slides and handouts. These materials may be used with written consent for education purposes only.

The 2015 Conference was designed to educate and assist those who work for and on behalf of migrant and ESL students in Pennsylvania. Showcased at the event were teacher collaboration strategies and models, culturally responsive instruction, and family engagement strategies, as well as networking opportunities between migrant education staff and ESL educators to facilitate capacity-building and increased cross-program communication.

Building Support for English Language Learners: Strategies for Creating a School Culture of Academic Success
This new research brief released by the Center for Schools and Communities with funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, identifies key strategies that principals and other educational leaders can use to foster collaboration among ESL specialists and content/classroom teachers that support the academic achievement of English learners. Co-authors, Karin Sprow Forté, D.Ed., and Denise G. Meister, Ph.D highlight school based strategies which include: providing dedicated time for collaboration, creating a culture and context for collaboration, and using professional learning to foster collaboration. Also recommendations that build positive school culture and environment, along with common pitfalls and limitations are detailed.

View the recorded webinar held on November 19, 2015 with the brief’s researchers discussing their research findings and hear a local perspective offered by Sally Rifugiato, Principal, Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 School and Jonathan Covel, ESL Director, Pittsburgh Public schools.

Freedom to Talk
Freedom to Talk, a short video featuring Dr. Kenji Hakuta, professor and co-chair of Stanford University’s Understanding Language initiative, gives a concise overview of the history of language educational policy in the United States, and also provides historical context for the rights of our nation’s English language learners, from the civil rights movement of the 1960s through the current climate of college-and-career ready standards.

This video is essential viewing for all educators of English language learners enrolled in school.


Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Mission for the Education of English Language Learners

Provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of education which includes the provision of quality, culturally-responsive and equitable educational programs for English language learners and assurance of their appropriate participation in all aspects of the educational system. The Department ensures that its programs will address the needs and rights of English language learners in all its initiatives throughout the entire process of planning and implementation.

Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Vision for the Education of English Language Learners

The Department promotes the recognition of these students and their parents as cultural and linguistic assets to the Commonwealth’s global initiatives. The Department is committed to using its Standards Aligned System to ensure that English language learners receive core curriculum instruction and achieve high levels of academic success.