English for Speakers of Other Languages

What is ESOL?
English for Speakers of Other Languages is a specific curriculum that is sequenced in order of increasing linguistic complexity. The purpose of ESOL is to provide targeted activities and practice with developmentally appropriate language forms and functions that will allow students to acquire the English language. Students are grouped by language proficiency level to ensure that the language they are learning and practicing is appropriate to their language proficiency level. Students practice language in all four domains (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

When should ESOL occur?
ESOL is a mandatory curricular area for all English learners via federal (Castañeda v. Pickard) and state law (ORS 336.079). ESOL must be a part of the daily program for every English learner. ESOL is not necessary for all students who learned English. Once a student has reached high levels of English proficiency, although not yet considered fluent, will continue to receive embedded English instruction through Sheltered instruction.

Why do we need ESOL?
English learners need a specific developmental curriculum designed to develop their basic and academic language proficiency in English. Students who are not yet proficient in English a need specialized environment that meets their particular needs by allowing them to the practice necessary to acquire the English language. ESOL provides English Learners with such an environment.

How is ESOL taught?
In order to provide appropriate English language instruction, the English learner’s current ESOL level must be taken into account. All English learners must receive daily ESOL instruction targeted to their proficiency levels. The content of an ESOL class is the English language. Students acquire the language by working with the functions and forms at a developmentally appropriate level.

Research shows that a second language is acquired in much the same way as the first. To facilitate the acquisition of English, ESOL should be taught where the use of the language is authentic and the atmosphere is one of low anxiety. English instruction that is relevant to the student and is presented in a student-friendly environment promotes the acquisition of English. Tapping prior knowledge helps students connect the new language to familiar topics and helps create a low-stress environment, which encourages learners to take risks and experiment with language.

What about grammar?
Grammar is a part of all four domains in ESOL, reading, speaking, writing and listening comprehension. Grammar in isolation is not recognized as a viable means of teaching the English language and does not promote language acquisition. In order for students to apply the grammatical rules of English they must receive grammar instruction embedded through the language domains.