English as a Second Language

Welcome to the exciting world of EL (English Learners), referred to in the past as Bilingual Class, ESL Class, EL Class, and now at times as GrapeSEED Class. Mars Elementary offers English classes to grades Young 5's through 2nd grade. Any student from another country, speaking another home language or even being raised around another language other than English, is required by the federal government under the No Child Left Behind Act, to be assessed using the state language assessment (WIDA) to see if they qualify to receive extra assistance with English. It is our job to provide students every opportunity to learn and be successful.


The philosophy of the Mars EL Program is to assist your children in achieving a functional English vocabulary while removing the fear of making mistakes in the second language. This is accomplished best by making learning, speaking, reading, writing, listening, thinking, and practicing as fun, memorable, real, and challenging as possible. Through 35 minute pull-out services, they are provided with small, non-threatening, relationship-building group activities in which they can receive more individual instructional attention in academics while enhancing vocabulary and speaking abilities.

Program utilized

In 2012 the Berrien Springs EL Program was the first school in the United States to pilot the cutting edge GrapeSEED Program, and continues to be a leader and distinguished example of language acquisition. GrapeSEED is an oral language acquisition and critical listening program of English that is designed for the way children naturally learn language. The GrapeSEED program for children was born out of more than four decades of English teaching success by American educators at the MeySen Academy in Sendai, Japan. It is a student-centered, intensely interactive program that incorporates the Common Core Standards with research to back the claims. The results gained, from using GrapeSEED in the EL classrooms, convinced the Berrien Springs Administration to utilize the progressive program in the Young 5’s Program and in all of the Kindergarten classrooms as well. For more information please see 

GrapeSEED Program Website

In the first weeks of school

New Students

The first few weeks of school, the EL (English Learner) team will be busy assessing all the new students with the W-APT. This test assesses the four domains of language; listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The test is now being used in 33 states to help determine language levels of new students. This wonderful tool helps guide us in planning for your child's English advancements. When all the testing is completed, Mrs. Michele Tucker will send a Notification of Placement letter home that explains how they performed on the test which also requires a signature and return of the final page indicating that you give permission for your child to attend EL classes.

Current EL Students

The previous spring your child took the WIDA Access English Proficiency exam that is required in many states, including Michigan, to assess the progress of English proficiency levels in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The state results are not released until the middle of the summer, so this information is sent home the first week of school. The results indicate if your child qualifies for continued EL services or has scored proficient and no longer needs EL services. A note will accompany the results, which requires a signature and return of the final page indicating that you give permission for them to again attend EL classes.