The Eagle's Eye

A Peek Inside Leyden’s ESL Program

Dulce Monreal, Staff Writer

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Thinking back to high school kids will often recall a memory of the teacher who made an impact in their lives or the awesome field trips that got them out of class. For a small group of students their experience was much more than that.

Their experience involved a journey of learning a whole new language while also learning important concepts in typical high school subjects.

One of the experiences offered here is English as a Second Language, or ESL for short. It’s for students who have English as their second or maybe third language and need to improve their English.

ESL is offered in many high schools throughout the country, and it was first offered at East Leyden around the early 1980’s.

Last school year Mr. Kenneth Monahan was chair of the department. After he retired at the end of the year, Mrs. Lisa Baran Janco was selected as the new chair.

Mrs. Baran Janco thinks ESL has improved significantly over the years, just like every other subject.

“We’ve worked very hard to incorporate standards based lessons into our curriculum, and we’ve worked very closely with the English department to make the English component [of ESL] meet the standards,” she said.

ESL is offered to students who need extra assistance with English.

These students are placed in one of four levels based on recommendations from past teachers and their writing and reading scores.

Based on these results, students are placed in an ESL class that teaches them English at the level they need. They also take classes in every subject any other student would take. The difference is that ESL students are placed in what are called sheltered classes. These sheltered classes are taught by teachers who are trained to teach English as a second language as well as teach their content areas.

Mrs. Baran-Janco added that sheltered classes are very similar to non-sheltered classes. What these sheltered classes do is give ESL students assistance with the language.

As Mrs. Baran Janco pointed out, “being in the ESL program should be viewed as a positive because you already know one language and here you are learning a second maybe even a third or fourth language, depending on a student’s experience.”

Mrs. Baran Janco added that “it is important for us to realize that knowing more than one language is a huge strength,” and that it should be something everyone should be inspired to do.

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