ERIC Identifier: ED289360
Publication Date: 1987-12-00
Author: McKeon, Denise
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Different Types of ESL Programs. ERIC Digest.
By the year 2000, it is anticipated that the number of
limited-English-proficient (LEP) students aged 5-14 in the United States will
reach approximately 3.4 million (Oxford, Pol, Lopez, Stupp, Gendell, and Peng,
1981). These are students who lack the necessary English skills for immediate
success in an all-English curriculum. To date, nearly one teacher in four has
had LEP students in class (O'Malley and Waggoner, 1984).
In an effort to meet the needs of these students, school districts have
instituted a variety of programs to provide instruction in English as a second
language (ESL), each of which appears to be as different as the students
themselves. However, regardless of program design, the minimal goal of an ESL
program should be to provide each student with the English skills necessary to
function successfully in an academic setting.
WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE THE DESIGN OF ESL PROGRAMS?
Several variables influence the kind of program that will be designed to
operate in any given district: (1) student population to be served, (2)
individual student characteristics, and (3) district resources.
--District Demographics. Districts find themselves with many varieties of LEP
students. Some districts have large, relatively stable populations of LEP
students from a single language or cultural background. Others have large groups
of LEP students representing several language backgrounds. Still other districts
may experience a sudden increase in the number of LEP students from a given
group: the number of Vietnamese, Hmong, Cubans, and Haitians in many districts
increased significantly in direct response to social and political changes in
students' countries of origin. On the other hand, some districts have very small
numbers of LEP students from many different language groups. Some report more
than 100 language groups with two or three LEP students from each, scattered
across grade levels and across schools. Characteristics of these
populations--including the numbers and kinds of students per language group, the
size of language groups anbd the mobility of their members, as well as
geographic and grade distribution of students--influence the type of ESL
instructional program design that a district will develop to serve its students.
--Individual Student Characteristics. Characteristics of individual students
can influence ESL program type. Some students enter U.S. schools with strong
academic preparation in their native language. They have attended school in
their own country, have learned to read and write well in their first language,
and are at comparable (or better) levels in such content areas as mathematics.
Other students may not have had such extensive academic preparation. Due to
social, economic, or cultural factors, their schooling may have been interrupted
or never begun (Ovando and Collier, 1985). Some students at every age level come
with little or no exposure to reading and writing, unable in some instances to
do even basic mathematical computations. Designing an instructional program to
serve students such as these becomes increasingly complicated.
--District Resources. Availability of resources varies from district to
district. Some have trained ESL personnel on site, while others are scrambling
to find someone to work with a few students on a volunteer basis. A few
districts can draw upon a large, stable community group for bilingual education
Some districts are experiencing declining enrollments, freeing up classroom
space to allow for such designs as magnet schools or resource centers. Other
districts are bursting at the seams, making it seem impossible to find classroom
space to house an ESL program. Thus, the capability of individual districts to
provide human and material resources will greatly influence the type of ESL
program organization that will be developed.
HOW ARE DIFFERENT ESL PROGRAMS CLASSIFIED?
ESL program designs can be broadly categorized as either stand-alone ESL or
ESL-plus. In general, stand-alone ESL programs group LEP students together and
instruct them in a manner similar to that used in foreign language classes. The
focus of the program is primarily linguistic. Stand-alone ESL programs operate
solely for LEP students who are taken out of their regular classroom environment
and placed in a setting where their need for instruction in and about English
can be addressed in a special way (Ohio State Dept. of Education, 1987).
Stand-alone ESL programs usually operate for small portions of each school day,
although in some less-than-ideal circumstances, they may operate less, with
students receiving special instruction only two or three times a week.
ESL-plus programs may include a component of special instruction in and about
English (like the stand-alone programs) but generally go beyond the linguistic
scope to focus on content area instruction, which may be given in the student's
native language or in English. ESL-plus programs generally serve students for a
longer portion of the instructional day than stand-alone programs, and in some
instances represent the student's entire instructional program.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF STAND-ALONE ESL PROGRAM DESIGN?
--Pull-out (generally used in an elementary setting). The student is pulled
out of the regular clasroom for special instruction in ESL. This pull-out
instruction may be provided by teachers who are assigned to just one building
(where the number of students needing instruction is large enough), or it may be
provided by one teacher who travels to several schools to serve small numbers of
children scattered throughout the district (Chamot and Stewner-Manzanares,
1985). Students from different first-language backgrounds may be separated into
groups for instruction. The teacher may or may not be trained in ESL (O'Malley
and Waggoner, 1984), and is generally not bilingual.
--Class period (generally used in a middle or secondary school setting).
Students receive ESL instruction during a regular class period, generally
receiving credit for the course, just like any other course taken in a
departmentalized setting. Students may be grouped according to their level of
English proficiency. The teacher is generally not bilingual (Ohio State Dept. of
--Resource Center. A variation of the pull-out design, the resource center
brings students together from several classes or several schools. The resource
center generally is an "enriched" version of the pull-out design, with materials
and staff being concentrated in one location to provide a wider variety of
language instruction and experiences. Students may be pulled out of their
regular classrooms for one or more periods of ESL instruction. The resource
center is generally staffed with at least one full-time ESL teacher, who may or
may not be bilingual (Ohio State Dept. of Education, 1987).
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF ENGLISH-PLUS PROGRAM DESIGN?
--Bilingual Education Programs (used either at the elementary or secondary
level (Seelye and Navarro, 1977). Bilingual programs are classified as "early
transition" or "late transition" programs, depending on the criteria used to
determine whether students can succeed in an all-English curriculum. In early
exit programs, students are mainstreamed primarily on the basis of oral English
proficiency. In "late transition," students are mainstreamed on the basis of
English proficiency--including reading and writing--sufficient for sustaining
academic achievement in an all-English classroom.
In both early and late transition programs, students receive instruction that
develops their native language skills, instruction in ESL, and content area
instruction in varying degrees in English or the first language. Students are
grouped according to first language, and teachers are bilingual
--Structured Immersion Programs (used either in elementary or secondary level
schools). Immersion programs include, in varying degrees, development of the
student's first language skills and content area instruction in English. No
structured ESL component is included. While students may address the teacher in
either their first language or English, teachers (who are bilingual) respond
generally in English. Content area instruction is based on the notion of
"comprehensible input," in which the teacher uses only the vocabulary and
structures that can be understood by students (Ramirez, 1986).
--Sheltered English or Content-Based Programs (used primarily to date with
secondary school students). These "alternative" content classes allow LEP
speakers from different backgrounds with some English proficiency to be grouped
into specific content classes especially designed to provide them with
"comprehensible input" (see previous section). A trained ESL teacher who is not
necessarily bilingual provides instruction. Sheltered English or content-based
programs may parallel virtually all mainstream academic curricular offerings or
may consist of only one or two subjects (Chamot and Stewner-Manzanares, 1985).
--High Intensity Language Training (HILT) Programs (used primarily at the
secondary level). In a HILT design, LEP students of various language backgrounds
are grouped for a significant portion of the school day. Students receive
intensive training in ESL, usually for three hours a day in the first year of
instruction, less in succeeding years (Chamot and Stewner-Manzanares, 1985).
Placement of students into regular classrooms is accomplished on a
subject-by-subject basis and usually includes initial mainstreaming into
linguistically undemanding classes such as music, physical education, and art.
Some HILT models may incorporate content-based or sheltered English classes as
an additional feature of program design. Teachers are trained in ESL and are not
IS THERE ANY ONE BEST PROGRAM DESIGN TO USE WITH LEP STUDENTS?
The design of any ESL program must take so many factors into account that it
is difficult to decide which program organization is best for a given set of
circumstances. What can be said, however, is that the best program organization
is one which:
--is tailored to meet the linguistic, academic, and affective needs of
--provides LEP students with the instruction necessary to allow them to
progress through school at a rate commensurate with their native-English
speaking peers; and
--makes the best use of district and community resources.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Chamot, A. U., and G. Stewner-Manzanares. A SUMMARY OF CURRENT LITERATURE ON
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. PART C: RESEARCH AGENDA. Rosslyn, VA: InterAmerica
Research Associates, 1985. ED 261 539.
Hernandez-Chavez, E. "The Inadequacy of English Immersion Education as an
Educational Approach for Language Minority Students in the United States." In
STUDIES ON IMMERSION EDUCATION. Sacramento, CA: California State Dept. of
Ohio State Dept. of Education. STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING LANGUAGE PROGRAMS
FOR NATIONAL ORIGIN MINORITY STUDENTS (rev. ed.). Columbus, OH: Ohio State Dept.
of Education, 1987. ED 255 034.
O'Malley, J. M., and D. Waggoner. "Public School Teacher Preparation and the
Teaching of ESL." TESOL NEWSLETTER 18 (1984): 1, 18-22.
Ovando, C. J., and V. P. Collier. BILINGUAL AND ESL CLASSROOMS. New York:
Oxford, R., L. Pol, D. Lopez, P. Stupp, M. Gendell, and S. Peng. "Projections
of Non-English Background and Limited-English-Proficient Persons in the United
States to the Year 2000: Educational Planning in the Demographic Context." NABE
JOURNAL 5 (1981): 1-30.
Ramirez, J. D. "Comparing Structured English Immersion and Bilingual
Education: First Year Results of a National Study." AMERICAN JOURNAL OF
EDUCATION 95 (1986): 122-49.
Seelye, H. N., and B. N. Navarro. A GUIDE TO THE SELECTION OF BILINGUAL
EDUCATION PROGRAM DESIGNS. Arlington Heights, IL: Bilingual Education Service