Students arriving from other countries during their secondary school years face great challenges in learning the academic English of the content areas. Typically, ESL students are mainstreamed into traditional middle and high school classes with their native English speaking peers. These students receive ESL instruction and support throughout their day according to their individual need. The ESL teachers at the middle and high schools maintain communication with the content teachers and provide assistance in modifying and adapting curriculum, lessons and assessments to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of the English language learners. ESL teachers also pre-teach the language of the content area and help to prepare students to understand the content.
Instruction in the content areas such as science, math, social studies, and health is modified and adapted to the English language proficiency of the ESL student. Content-area teachers are responsible for modifying and adapting instruction and assessment, with the ESL teacher collaborating with all teachers for support.
The methods that teachers employ to teach non-native English speakers include the following:
- Extra-linguistic cues such as visuals, props, and body language
- Linguistic modifications such as repetition and pauses during speech
- Interactive lectures with frequent comprehension checks
- Cooperative learning strategies
- Focus on central concepts rather than on details by using a thematic approach
- Development of reading strategies such as mapping and writing to develop thinking
The goal of the English as a Second Language program is to help students acquire English language proficiency and specifically the academic English that will allow them to perform successfully in the classroom alongside their proficient English-speaking peers.