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Native Language

Native Language: WISEdata

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Native Language is the language or dialect first learned by an individual or first used by the Parent/Guardian with a child. This term is often referred to as primary language.

This field is required for WISEdata records if either English Language Proficiency Code = 1 - 5 or Immigrant (Title III)= Y (regardless of Grade Level). 

School districts should identify first/native languages of English Learners using this list of 3-digit alpha codes for languages: ISO-639-2 spreadsheet.

This is a more comprehensive list than previously used that may contain languages not currently spoken; districts should identify the language that most accurately describes the language spoken by a student. For example, instead of using the former code for Latin American Languages, a student’s home language should be identified by the specific language group, such as Portuguese. For detailed information about languages, go to the Ethnologue website.

USES: Native language is used to meet the requirements of 115.96(1), Wis. Stats (Annual Count of Limited English Proficient Students). Other data elements required by law for this Count are already included in WISEdata and include English language proficiency, grade level placement, and age. Native language is also required in the Pre-ID roster file for the DPI-approved English language proficiency test (i.e., ACCESS for ELLs).


FAQs, Details, and Points to Note

  1. Definition: The definition of Native Language is the one provided in the NCES Student Data Handbook.
  2. American Sign Language: Note that American Sign Language is on the native language code list and may be the language first learned by a child or first used by the Parent/Guardian with a child. This fact has implications on the child's ability to demonstrate English language proficiency in the same ways that other native languages do. Students may be American Sign Language proficient but not fully English proficient.
  3. Multiple Languages: If multiple native languages are identified and two or more languages identified are not English, error 6644 will be triggered (Only one native language may be identified for this student). If this error is not corrected, the native language of the student will be set to ‘mul’ – Multiple Languages in the Data Warehouse.
  4. Macro Language: If a family uses 'individual language', WISEdata rolls up the value into the 639-2 macro language, which is what is loaded into Ed-Fi. For example, 26 individual languages for Hmong roll up to 'hmn' macro language. For more on macro languages, see the SIL page
  5. Federal Language Reporting Guidance: The following federal guidance includes a document that defines what an improbable language is and a list of all languages. The list of languages includes why the language is not likely to be in use by any native speakers today. If a language from the list of Improbable Languages is used, it will likely trigger a warning in WISEdata. Note: Where (B) and (T) codes are used in the federal list, WISEdata will always use the (B) code. 
  6. Obsolete Languages: Obsolete languages refer to languages that are no longer actively spoken in a country around the world. These languages are still studied, but they are not actively spoken. A common example is Latin. Many students study Latin, and some people may actually be fluent speakers of Latin, but there are no countries in the world that declare Latin to be an active language that is spoken daily amongst residents as a primary mode of communication. Obsolete languages cannot be listed as a 'native language' in WISEdata Portal. Please refer to this table of obsolete languages for further details.  


See Also:

 Historical: 2016-17 Native Language Codes Master Spreadsheet


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