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Bilingual and English Learner Education

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The Bilingual and English Learner program at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction supports school districts in educating students who are English learners (EL). We believe in the assets our bilingual students bring to school, and work with districts to honor those assets while preparing students for their bright futures.
There are approximately 48,000 English learners in Wisconsin, who speak over 100 different languages, including the six different American Indian languages spoken in Wisconsin: 
  • Hoocąk (spoken by the Ho-Chunk Nation);
  • Mahican (spoken by the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation);
  • Menominee (spoken by the Menominee Indian Tribe);
  • Ojibwe (spoken by the six bands of Ojibwe);
  • Oneida (spoken by the Oneida Nation); and
  • Potawatomi (spoken by the Forest County Potawatomi).


English Learners represent 5.8% of the overall school population of Wisconsin. The top five most common home languages spoken by Wisconsin English Learners are:

  • Spanish (80%)
  • Hmong (14%)
  • Arabic (2%)
  • Somali (1.8%)
  • Mandarin Chinese (1.4%)     

(data from 2017-18 WISEdata)

Seal of Biliteracy Update

The Department of Public Instruction is currently revising the guidance document to the WI DPI Seal of Biliteracy for clarity, however the criteria for the WI DPI Seal of Biliteracy remain the same. The DPI is accepting applications from districts to offer the WI DPI Seal of Biliteracy using the current guidance document and application form PI-9962. The review process may take a few weeks to a few months, so districts are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible if the districts anticipates offering the Seal of Biliteracy to students for the 2018-19 school year. You are welcome to contact DPI contact Audrey Lesondak at or (608) 266-7292 if you have any questions or would like DPI to preview your application. Thank you for your patience with this process as we strive to make our guidance as clear as possible.


tablet with handCommunication about events can be found on our Google+ Community: WI DPI English Learner PLC

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