2021 Student Essay Competition Guidelines

"Being an English Learner through a Global Pandemic"

The Bilingual Education Association of the Metroplex (BEAM) invites you to participate in our annual Bilingual/ESL Student Essay Writing Contest. The competition is open to all 3rd through 12th grade English Learner (EL) students.



Write an essay about being an EL, using the correct theme for the student's grade level:

  • Grades 3-5: What was the biggest change or challenge you and/or your family experienced during the pandemic?

  • Grades 6 – 8: What impact has remote learning made on you and/or your family and what have you learned from it?

  • Grades 9 -12: What economic and social inequities has the pandemic exposed? How have these inequities impacted you and/or your family?


Cash prizes will be awarded to first place winners in each category, as follows:

  • Grades 3 - 5: $250

  • Grades 6 - 8: $500

  • Grades 9 - 12: $750


  • Participation in the contest is limited to students who are identified as ELs or reclassified ELs

  • Participants must have a B average or better in core content areas as of the Fall 2020 semester

  • At least a 90% school attendance record, and

  • Previous TABE and/or NABE winners are not eligible to participate.


Each essay will be judged on:

  1. Development of the theme – 30%;

  2. Originality – 20%;

  3. Content and clarity of expression–30%; and

  4. Grammar and mechanics – 20%


Only entries that comply with the following rules will be considered:

  • Language: Essay must be written in the student’s second language. For example, if the student is participating in a dual language program and Spanish is her/his first language, the essay must be written in English and not in Spanish.

  • Subject: All essays must address the theme listed under “TOPICS” above for the appropriate grade level.

  • Length: The number of words must be listed at the end of each essay. Lengths must be as follows:

  • Grades 3-5: 150-200 words

  • Grades 6-8:  250-350 words

  • Grades 9-12: 400-500 words

  • Format: The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and follow the word count guidelines above for the student's grade level. Documents must be submitted as a PDF. Documents must be submitted electronically via online submission form at www.beamdfw.org.

A cover page must be provided with the essay title, the student’s name, and grade strand (3-5, 6-8, 9-12). The essay title must be included at the top of the essay, but the student’s name should not appear on the essay.

  • Application: The online application form must be completed with the essay uploaded to the form.

All entries must be submitted by February 14, 2021 11:59 PM CST


  • Any entries received after the deadline will be disqualified.

  • Any entries missing any information will be disqualified.


Winners will have their winning essay printed in the Symposium Program and be acknowledged at the BEAM Symposium on April 3, 2021.

  • Copyright: All essays become the property of BEAM and will not be returned. BEAM reserves the right to publish all essays.

  • Judging: A panel of judges will select the winners in each category. BEAM Board reserves the right to bestow or not to bestow the award for each category.

  • Deadline: All entries must be received by February 14, 2021 11:59 PM CST. Contest entries need to be submitted by the teacher. Applicants will be notified by March 15th, 2021. Entries from students from all language backgrounds are encouraged.

  • Eligibility Disclaimer: BEAM committee members and their family members are not eligible to enter the contest. Family members of committee members include siblings, parents, significant others, children, grandchildren, and grandparents. Additionally, students of committee members, or students of family members of committee members, are not eligible to enter the contest.



If you have any questions, please contact Eber Perla, support@beamdfw.org

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