An ESL or English as a second Language program, as the name suggests is for students or people in general who do not speak English as their first language and have an interest in learning this language for certain reasons which may range from applying to a college or university in United states or elsewhere or they would want to get accustomed to this language for the purpose of conducting business overseas, for communication with peers at work or it can be for the simple reason of communicating with people at different situations.
In this article we are going to focus on ESL programs for students at a school district, comparing and contrasting on the ways they are executed and the ways they should be executed. English as a Second Language programs for students are offered to students by either scheduling classes in between their regular course classes or they can be undertaken as a separate programs by certain individuals who are accommodated in the vicinity of the university.
Today, since the ratio of international students is increasing at an alarming rate in United States or Canada, offering an ESL program is more of a legal requirement for most districts so that all students are taken forward together at university or when they enroll into one in future. It is also due to this very fact that a lot of emphasis is given to ESL programs at elementary and middle school levels to prepare students to use English as a channel of communication in future. The execution and the effectiveness of these programs however, vary with different school districts depending upon trained teacher, the program and the dedication of the students themselves.
The duration and intensity of an ESL program varies with the individual or university requirement and can be full time or part time, ranging from a couple of weeks to even a year. These details as mentioned do differ, so for example the ESL program offered at the Greenwich public school which aims at providing students academic and communication skills In order for them to succeed in U.S universities as effectively as possible. The elementary school offers this program for an average 2- 4 years with one to eight hours of instruction every week depending upon the grade and language individual needs of students. The school also focuses on very small groups and emphasizes individual attention to students to better understand their weaknesses and fill I the gaps.
The Greenwich Public School district has been offering ESL programs for the past 28 years and has seen an influx in the number of ESL students over the years. In the year 2004-05 approximately 731 students enrolled in the program altogether from 54 countries. The elementary school curriculum includes a variety of materials according to student needs such as work books, songs, CD’s, learning of poems, class presentations etc. this program is more content based and strong emphasis is give on the reading aspect in this program. The program is organized around themes and aims at teaching critical thinking along with language skills to enable success in mainstream class rooms.
In more specific terms this ESL program for elementary students includes
In Greenwich Public School, after completing the elementary school program after reaching grade 2 or grade 3, ESL students are expected to formulate questions, read outside of class, compare materials in a text and also contrast them. They are also able to express a story in their own words with proper understanding and expressions, write small paragraphs and initiate conversations.
After completing the basic ESL program for elementary school, students can decide to move out of the program or advance to higher level middle school ESL program, which has its own curriculum and particular hours to be covered aimed at developing proficiency in English language. Placement in this program is based on entry tests and educational history.
After looking at the details of different ESL programs offered by various institutes, if one actually compares them with reality, one can say that ESL programs put students under a lot of stress as they try to achive excellence in a second language, therefore recreational facilities should be made affordable, also the students should be encouraged to mingle with American students in order to culturally adjust with them and pur into practice all the theories they have learnt in class. Also one of the most important things which teachers for this program need to understand is that students enrolled in an ESL program come from very different backgrounds and cultures, therefore the same methodoligies cannot be applied across the board for teachin purposes. Students must be carefully monitered and encouraged to use their strengths to achive succcess in the course. (Currie, 2003)
If one compares the ESL program offered by greemwich Public School with other ESL programs offered, we can say that most ESL programs are similar in conducting theme based activities, which can be selected by asking students what they want to say, moulding the curiculum in children’s interest.
Also at this stage most ESL programs are content based, songs are also one of the important keys to success in most ESL progrms. One of the methods which can contribute towards the improvement of an ESL program at Greenwich is that revision of matrial is very important before every new leson taught, this can be best achived with the help of songs before proceeding forward. Each lesson should be broken down into three to four parts, starting with warm up and revision of previous material, then teaching new lesson, for example new vocabulary words etc, the third part should incorporate games or activities t practice the new lesson and the ending of a esson sholud be on a happy thankful note, referably a song. This approach has been teted at ther ESL program and has proved to be very succesful.
Different approaches to learning can be adressed thorough ESL games, making learning lessions fun and more effective. Depending on the students theses ESl games can vary from auditorylearnig style in which games involve more listening through peoms or repitation etc. Visual ESL styles ca be used for students who are more comfortable with videos of games involving flash cards etc and finally tactile learnig styles can be used in which “touch” are used. (Vernon)
In conclusion, if the current ESL program in a School district is evaluated in terms of the comparisons and details mentioned above, I would say that diverse approach towards the students is missing and teachers are adopting a homogenous method towards all students. In my opinion more effort needs to be diverted in this angle where different games and teaching styles are used after analysing the capabilities of students and more emphasis should be place on practical learning.
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Topic: English As A Second Language Program
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