In their first days of the new trimester at Ross School, students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes are discussing their course material, expectations, and the importance of the Ross Core Values in the context of their studies, community engagement, and overall experience at Ross.
Ross School English instruction differs from the stereotypical language immersion class one may expect. Courses are designed in ascending levels, from Prep 1 through 3.2, and are focused on reading and writing, speaking and listening, global studies, global literature and science; and eventually, transition into Ross core subject classes.
“The ESOL program at Ross offers students a well-rounded approach to their English proficiency, because they learn English skills mapped to the Ross Spiral Curriculum. It’s helped break down the classroom experience to something that all students relate to, regardless of their country of origin,” said Wes Howard, who teaches Reading and Writing Levels 2 through 3.2.
For example, in Anna Castellazzi’s Prep Science Level 2 class, as students learn about astronomy and biology, they also discover the origins of the scientific words, sentence structures, and meanings related to their discussions. Similarly, in Kristine Hart’s Global Studies Level 1 class, students are beginning their studies of the English language by learning about political, physical, and thematic maps. Students’ subsequent classroom conversations will build their vocabulary and expand their English comprehension.
As they progress and meet the benchmarks and standards at the Prep 3.2 level, students proceed to Transition level, where they take all of the core classes with their grade-level peers, and supplement those classes with two ESOL courses to support their reading, writing, and research skills.
Vincent Barbato’s class is currently studying creation myths, with students reading and discussing myths, scripts, novels, and other literature from key historical time periods. In their second week of class, students will read stories from the Bible, which relates to their learning about Christianity in Cultural History classes.
A major focus for all students this trimester is how storytelling, writing, and expression help to sustain and communicate our global cultures, as well as the role these forms of expression play in documenting experiences for future generations.
“Overall, students are diving into the Ross Curriculum from all angles, and their English language proficiency becomes another tool to help them along their lifelong path to discovery, learning, and success,” said Mami Takeda, ESOL coordinator at Ross.