ESL stands for English as a Second Language. ESL classes take the place of English Language Arts for those students enrolled in the SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) Program. In ESL classes teachers teach English to students who do not yet speak or write proficiently in English. Students may be very competent in reading and writing in their own language but still need ESL because they do not dominate higher levels of syntax and grammar in English. ESL provides direct instruction in all the parts of learning English: phonics, phonemics, morphology, lexicon, grammar and syntax.
ESL is offered to all students in the SEI program and is a mandated part of the SEI Program per Massachusetts regulations for the Education of English Language Learners.
This is a developmental program consisting of different levels of English language instruction based on each student’s current proficiency level. While Beginning ESL focuses on oral language proficiency, higher levels of ESL continue to focus on developing oral language but also on reading and written expression. Students progress from taking beginning levels of ESL that develop common everyday vocabulary and language to those levels that allow them to make meaning from texts that are written at higher levels of difficulty, requiring knowledge of advanced grammar forms, tenses, and specialized vocabulary.
ESL teachers do not need to know other languages or the native languages of their students to teach ESL. ESL courses are part of programs and curricula offered to students who do not understand, speak, or write English well enough to take regular English language arts classes with their native English-speaking peers.