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What is ELD?

English Language Development

English Language Development (ELD) is a systematic instructional model designed to develop the English language proficiency of English language learners (i.e., students who speak English as a second language). ELD instruction emphasizes the development of all four language domains: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Effective ELD programs include the following components:
  • Phonology: the sound system of English
  • Morphology: the forms and formation of words, including prefixes, affixes, suffixes, root words, inflections, etc.
  • Syntax: the structure of language, including the rules that govern phrases and sentences
  • Semantics: the meaning of language, including vocabulary and academic language
  • Language functions: the purposes of languages
  • Language forms and structures: grammar and language structures
  • Pragmatics: situational appropriateness of language use 
During the English language development (ELD) instructional block, instruction is differentiated in order to meet the needs of students who are at various levels of English language development. There are five different English proficiency levels within the second language development continuum: beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced, and advanced. Instructional techniques and language development expectations will vary depending upon each student's particular needs as well as their respective English proficiency levels.
ELD can be taught during a separate ELD instructional block that focuses exclusively on language, or can be integrated with Science and Social Studies during a separate content-based ELD block. Content-based ELD is an instructional model of ELD that integrates both content objectives (i.e., Science, Social Studies) with ELD language objectives (i.e., ELD standards, English Language Arts standards). Content-based ELD promotes language development through the medium of content, with a focus on such language features as phonology, morphology, syntax, language structures and forms, academic language, language functions and other features. Content-based ELD is only considered to be English Language Development if ELD language objectives are integrated with content objectives. You can find additional information about content-based ELD by visiting the pages about the SIOP model or Project GLAD. Additional resources on content-based ELD can also be found in the ELD Strategies store as well as throughout the ELD Strategies website. 


Schools are required to provide English language development or ESL services to all English language learners, regardless of proficiency level, until they have been reclassified to Fluent English proficient. Teachers must be aware of the proficiency levels in English in order to ensure that students are receiving ELD or ESL services that are appropriate to their respective English proficiency levels.