Bilingual and ESL Program

  • Our program supports students and parents who speak a language other than English. Our students come from approximately 50 different language backgrounds.

    The Kalamazoo Public Schools Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Program provides English as a Second Language Instruction and Bilingual/ESL content support. KPS also has a dual-language immersion program (Spanish and English) located at El Sol Elementary School.

    In order to maximize services, several bilingual centers with full-time staff have been established. Students who need bilingual services and support are encouraged to attend one of the centers. Services are provided at non-center schools on a limited as-needed basis.

    Goals of the Bilingual and ESL Program

    1. To enable students to become proficient in English.
    2. To enable students to achieve at grade level in content area instruction.
    3. To help improve the self-concept of students.
    4. To increase parental involvement.
    5. To increase the effectiveness of all mainstream teachers and other staff when working with English Language Learners.
    6. To increase awareness and understanding of language acquisition and the strategies that support the learning of ELLs.

    Concern or Complaint Regarding an English Learner

    Kalamazoo Public Schools offers services to students who are English Learners. Assessments are provided to determine the level of services required and to monitor student progress in English proficiency. There are ten Language Support Centers where services are provided to English Learners. Please contact the Coordinator of Bilingual Education, ESL, and World Languages for further information at (269) 337-1579.

    Concerns or complaints regarding services for English Learners will be promptly investigated. The concern or complaint should be brought to the teacher’s attention first whenever possible. If the concern or complaint is not handled at this level, then the building principal should be notified. If the concern or complaint is not handled or resolved at the building level, then the Coordinator of Bilingual Education, ESL, and World Languages should be contacted at (269) 337-1579.

    If you need assistance, but you do not speak English, please contact the Coordinator of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language (ESL), and World Languages at (269) 337-1579.

KPS Spotlight on English Learner Families

  • KPS Spotlight graphic

    Read this story in Spanish, French or Arabic.

    “She just wants to provide a life for us that she couldn’t provide for herself.”

    As Bibiane Niangi spoke about her and her husband Flory Muanda’s  decision to move their family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States in 2015, her daughters Alphine and Jeannecia translated for her. 

    Alphine and Jeannecia are a sophomore and junior, respectively, at Loy Norrix High School. 

    In Congo, Bibiane pursued an education in economics only to be met with obstacles. Congo is the largest country in central Africa, a region that is often misconstrued as being war-torn. 

    “It wasn’t like we were living in the active wars, but we felt the economic effects of it. There were less opportunities that were less likely to succeed,” said Bibiane, who became a U.S. citizen this spring. As one of 12 children, Bibiane had to make sacrifices, putting her education on hold to work “extreme hours to help support my family.” 

    A common narrative for many families across the globe, Bibiane and her husband long planned to come to America, which would not have been possible without the Diversity Immigration Visa lottery in Congo. Currently, the DIV lottery allows for 55,000 people a year from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to come to America to build better lives. 

    Arriving in America came with struggles as well. For example, Bibiane’s family lived with other family members until she and her husband found stable jobs. In order to ensure the “American Dream” for their daughters, other sacrifices were made as well. Bibiane and her husband sacrificed the promise of pursuing their own educations and dreams to provide a better foundation for their daughters’ futures.

    While Bibiane and her husband could not pursue the educational aspirations they once had hoped for, educational dreams are why they chose to live in Kalamazoo. 

    “I want better education for my kids, better opportunities. I want my daughters to become important people who work good jobs and are educated people,” Bibiane said. The Kalamazoo Promise guarantees just that — a solid, educational future for her daughters.

    Bibiane, and many KPS parents like her, have sacrificed being close to extended family members — parents, siblings, nieces and nephews — to give their children a promising future. However, despite all of the sacrifices they have made, there is one they will not compromise on: keeping their home culture and language alive. 

    Jeannicia and Alphine can navigate school in English, but they also are literate in French and can speak Lingala, a Bantu language from Congo. The family also cooks and eats Congolese dishes on a daily basis. 

    And, like many other parents, Bibiane says watching her daughters achieve academic accolades makes all of the difficult sacrifices worthwhile.

    Cutline: Jeannecia Muanda, Bibiane Niangi, and Alphine Muanda share a laugh.

Contact Information

  • 1220 Howard St.
    Kalamazoo, MI  49008
    Phone:  (269) 337-1579

    Program Staff:

    wessam abdelaziz

    Wessam Abdelaziz, Coordinator of English as Second Language, World Languages and Bilingual Services

    Myrna Phillips, Bilingual Instructional Secretary

    Rebeca Arevalo-Visuet, Home-School Liaison

    Susan Beechler, ESL Specialist