Learning More Than Language in ESOL

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This year, Summer Term @Ross students hail from 10 countries around the world, and many of them are spending the first half of their day participating in the school’s comprehensive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course. The class pairs language exercises with cultural lessons to prepare students for a holistic understanding of American life.

Despite the abbreviated timeframe of the summer course, ESOL Coordinator Mami Takeda says the class is working toward the same goal as academic-year students: improving their linguistic and academic skills to become independent learners. “For some students, we are helping them to begin their journey of learning English and establishing good habits—all while having a lot of fun!”

Cosima von Baumbach, a rising 10th grader from Germany, studied English for four years before enrolling in Summer Term @Ross. She says the ESOL coursework has enhanced her understanding of the language. “Classes at home focus on grammar and writing, but there’s not a lot of speaking. We spend a lot more time here practicing speaking and processing. The teachers here focus on our weaknesses and help to improve our fluency,” she says.

Living in the boarding community has also helped Cosima to improve her language skills and exposed her to new cultural traditions. In a home that hosts students from seven different countries, English is the only common mode of communication. “It would be difficult to get along here without learning English,” she admits. “You need it to meet friends and communicate.”

Summer Term coursework can also provide a solid foundation for students preparing to attend Ross in the fall. “In a way, they get a head start because they are given similar types of work to what we give during the school year, which focuses not only on language acquisition, but also on critical thinking, organizing, creative writing, public speaking, and most importantly, analytical/synthesizing skills,” Mami explains. “Some students take time to get used to different teaching styles, but come fall, Summer Term students will be fully ready to take on Ross learning.”