English as a Second Language Program

The English as a Second Language Program is designed for students preparing for college who are not native speakers of English. Students are placed in ESL levels by scores on the Institutional TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and TWE (test of written English) along with in-house oral and written assessments administered during the first two weeks of school and again in April of the school year.

If a student does not attain the score for advancement, we will request that he or she take a summer program to improve overall English skills. They will be retested at the start of the new academic school year. If the student has attained required score, and has not shown adequate improvement, the student will be placed on academic probation. If the student is not progressing in his/her English language acquisition, the student may be asked to repeat a year of school or he/she may be asked to leave the school.

The ESL program has three levels. The student will be placed in level one, two, or three, depending upon his/her initial TOEFL, TWE, and other in-house reading, writing, and speaking assessments. We honor each student’s different learning style and requirements, and we use testing only as a guide to placement. The student’s prior English and academic experiences are also taken into account when placing a student in ESL levels. Students are placed in first level classes with a PBT under 450 (45 IBT). Upon successful completion of the first level class, the student is placed in second level classes with a PBT of 450-500 (45-61 IBT) along with other assessments. Third level students are placed in ESL support if their PBT is under 550 (80 IBT). A student with a PBT of 550 (80 IBT) can be completely mainstreamed into our academic classes.

A Besant Hill School ESL student, by successfully completing the ESL program, is able to graduate with the class to which he/she was accepted. As a certified ETS (Educational Testing Service) testing site, students have a statistical advantage on the TOEFL from testing on their home campus.  By working with the Director of ESL, the Academic Dean, and the College Counselor, we ensure that the student has all the credits for high school graduation and college acceptance.

Course Descriptions

Level One ESL

ESL Literature

This introductory ESL course is designed to immerse English language learners into the realms of literature and writing. Students will read engaging academic short stories and novels, and write about them. They’ll develop their understanding of sentence structure and grammar mechanics and learn new vocabulary. By the end of the year, students will be able to produce comprehensive paragraphs and will have been introduced to academic essay writing. The course will maintain a college preparatory pace and students will be expected to complete thirty minutes of homework each night.

Language Acquisition through Community Learning

This multi-level ESL course is designed for English language learners to improve their overall ability to communicate in English as they gain mastery of the language. Using a communicative approach, students will improve their language production in a safe environment that encourages a desire to communicate in English. Students will be exposed to a variety of language that will provide opportunities to use and understand English academically, professionally and conversationally.

ESL Writing

This first level ESL course is designed to give beginning students a solid foundation in academic writing. The students will learn to write grammatically correct, coherent paragraphs in a number of genres, including descriptive, process, comparison/contrast, and definition paragraphs. They will focus on grammar skills and TOEFL. By the completion of the class, the students will write well-formed essays that demonstrate their ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly, with minimal structural errors.

Level Two ESL

American Literature

The first semester of American Literature begins with the learning and using literary terms to gain a common language with which to discuss literature. Next, we move into a study of the short story, reading several of the traditional American authors. We focus on an analysis of the literature, understanding setting, characterization, plot, and themes while also looking for examples of imagery, irony, foreshadowing and other figurative language. We then study poetry, analyzing works by Frost, Dickinson, Hughes, and others for both meaning and structure. We end the first semester reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Reading to understand major themes is a focus, along with plot, character development, and setting. The second semester concentrates of modern American writers, reading many minority and immigrant authors, using short stories and poems. Focus is on reading more independently, while gaining vocabulary and a greater understanding of literature. At the end of the semester, we focus on film as literature, looking at some of the great American films.

English II

This ESL writing course is designed for high-intermediate English language learners. Students develop and practice college preparatory writing assignments including paragraphs, summaries, and essays. They examine numerous writing models to assist them with their academic prose. They spend the year honing their writing process and continue to master English grammar mechanics. The development of both self-editing and peer-editing skills is also a focus of the course.

US History (S)

This course, designed for second level ESL students, is a survey of US history from prehistory to the Civil War. Topics include the migrations to the Americas, the colonial and revolutionary periods, the development of the Republic, and the Civil War. While this class focuses on US History content, reading textbooks and primary sources for both main ideas and details, writing test answers and critical essays, note taking, and oral presentations are also essential components of English acquisition and are emphasized. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in early American history.

Level Three ESL

Advanced Composition

This English III course is designed to introduce and immerse advanced language learners to the demands of college preparatory reading and writing. Students are exposed to provocative and thematic texts that encourage and assist in the development of high-order analytical and synthesis thinking skills. They learn to interpret public dialogue, stimulate their opinions, and engage in thoughtful discourse that inspires written work. This course expands viewpoints, improves academic speaking skills and strengthens critical analysis. In addition, the class emphasizes grammar mechanics, vocabulary and the development of thoughtful academic writing.

ESL Support

ESL Support is designed for Junior and Senior students to give them the academic support to assist their classwork and overall English language acquisition. With a 5:1 or smaller student-teacher ratio, the class will focus on all academic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Utilizing language tools such as Kurzwell text to speech literacy software, Grammarly proofreading and plagiarism check, and pronunciation apps, students will work with the teacher to improve their language skills. The students will also have an opportunity during this class to work on TOEFL and SAT/ACT preparation. The goal of ESL Support is to give the students guidance to improve their English language skills and become independent, lifelong learners.