English Language Learners Program
English Language Education at Salem Academy
Salem Academy Charter School welcomes students who are just beginning to learn English. Often described as ELLs (English Language Learners), these students face unique challenges, and our goal is to help them understand those challenges, translate cultural expectations, and embrace the great gifts that they bring to this country and to our school.
Since its inception in August 2009, the English Language Education Program at Salem Academy has had three primary goals: 1) to identify, assess, and place English Language Learners into a sheltered English program; 2) to instruct ELLs in academic English; and 3) to improve access to the general education curriculum for ELLs. We began the program four years ago with one full-time coordinator/teacher and a handful of ELLs and started category training our entire staff; in 2012 Massachusetts adopted the WIDA standards and we created content-rich English Language Development classes to align with these new standards. We are currently sending our core academic teachers and administrators to RETELL training. We now have two full-time licensed teachers in the ELL department and have enhanced our ability to provide services more efficiently across a growing middle and high school ELL population.
In our current model of service delivery, our ELLs are assigned to English Language Development classes based on proficiency as determined by their ACCESS scores and other means of assessment (W-APT, LAS-Links) as necessary. Our ELLs take their ELD classes in place of Spanish or an academic learning center and participate fully in their core academic classes, unless a special circumstance requires additional instructional time in ELD. Furthermore, in content area classes where teachers have not yet received the necessary training to provide sheltered instruction, our ELLs are supported on a push-in basis by one of the ELL teachers. The ELL teacher who provides this classroom support consults with the classroom teacher to modify assignments and assessments and provide instructional feedback. Our ELL teachers act as liaisons for Salem Academy’s ELLs and are the first point of contact for disciplinary, academic, and social questions or concerns.
We approach with respect and empathy the great transitions our students are making in their academic and social worlds. We strive to help them understand what Salem Academy expects of them socially and academically, and we encourage them to share their unique cultural heritage with the school community as we celebrate the diversity of our school population.