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Fessenden’s English Language Learner (ELL) academic-year program helps students build a foundation of conversational and academic English and a solid understanding of American social and cultural norms. 

Our independent school takes an individualized approach to ELL, meeting boys where they are and helping them further develop their proficiency. In classes of 8-12 students, boys learn through meaningful interactions and project-based learning. They receive more formal instruction in writing, reading comprehension, grammar, and pronunciation with the goal of gaining fluency. As they become more accomplished in their English skills, boys join the general academic classrooms at Fessenden. With individualized attention and tutoring support, ELL students become equipped to succeed in academic classrooms at Fessenden, and at top American secondary schools and colleges. As ELL students are fully immersed in the English language and American culture from their first day on campus, they learn quickly how to navigate life with students from the United States and around the world.

ell levels

Levels of English Language Learning Program

Fessenden’s ELL program has two levels to accommodate boys with a range of language proficiencies:

Boys in ELL 1 have some proficiency in the English language, in terms of communicative skills, but need support in academic and language skills to succeed in a strong academic program taught entirely in English. All the courses at this level, with the exception of math, science, electives, and clubs (these are taken with their grade-level Fesssenden peers) are essentially language-acquisition-based courses. 

Boys in ELL 2 take English literature (reading and writing), English language (listening and speaking), history, and field study separate from the general Fessenden student body. ELL 2 students take appropriate math and science classes, as well as electives and clubs, with their grade-level Fessenden peers.

Core Curriculum of Fessenden’s ELL Program

English Literature
(ELL 1 & 2)

Reading, writing, vocabulary, and literature

English Language
(ELL 1 & 2)

Speaking, listening, note-taking, and phonetics

(ELL 1 & 2)

World history and U.S. history

Field Studies
(ELL 1 & 2)

Boys take advantage of much of what Massachusetts can provide when studying indigenous societies and U.S. history, including visits to the Concord Museum and Lowell National Historical Park.


Students take math classes with peers at their individual academic level.


Students join their grade-level peers for science classes.


Students join their grade-level peers for electives.

Clubs & Affinity Groups

Students in both ELL levels have the opportunity to join clubs and participate in affinity groups.

Field Studies for Students in the ELL Program

Our location (just minutes from Boston, one of the leading U.S. academic and historic hubs) is a major advantage for English Language Learning students, and allows for learning opportunities that few other ELL programs can provide. We take full advantage of all that Boston and the surrounding New England areas have to offer—particularly when we are studying indigenous societies and colonial and industrial periods of U.S. history.

Some of our field trips include:


Residential Life for English Language Learning Students

One of the reasons our ELL students learn both the language and culture so quickly is that they are fully immersed in both from day one. We purposely keep our international population small, so ELL students can accelerate their learning and become fully integrated in our larger community as quickly as possible.