English Language Learning Program
Gareth Lindwall Honig
Newton’s ELL Program is designed to create an interactive setting where students are taught strategies to help them master English as quickly as possible, develop appropriate academic and social skills, and progress in content areas without loss of achievement due to English proficiency level. Instruction integrates skills and concepts of the mainstream curriculum in the belief that language learning best occurs when the content is meaningful and useful to students. In an interactive setting, teachers can respond to a variety of learning styles, cultural backgrounds and language levels.
Students enter with a variety of experiences with learning English. While some students have been taught little or no English, others have been taught English as a foreign language. Some students have attended bilingual schools, or have parents or other family members who have instructed/supported them in learning English. The students bring a vast array of linguistic and cultural diversity to the system.
English language instruction is tailored to the individual linguistic, cultural, and educational needs of the student. In addition to regular instruction in the mainstream classroom, all English Language Learners receive instruction by specialized ESL teachers and instructional aides. Newton Public Schools currently offers program instruction at all 21 schools. Native language speakers of the most common language groups in Newton (Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Hebrew, and Japanese) may also receive bilingual support as needed.
Annual turnover with new students entering and others departing (through moving, returning to home countries, as well as mainstreaming into monolingual classes full time) is about thirty percent. Such movement requires constant communication and flexible staffing and scheduling at the school level. Teachers are encouraged to contact the program staff in their schools with any questions about appropriate instructional approaches, materials, cultural differences, etc.