Grades 5-9
The Experience

English Language Learners

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

We believe language acquisition happens through meaningful interactions. Learning is natural, intuitive, and subconscious—much as it is when we first learn our native language as young children. In this approach, boys quickly achieve language proficiency and have fun doing it. We supplement the program with formal instruction on writing, grammar, and pronunciation that helps students become highly fluent.

Small classes (of 8-12 students) are tailored specifically to ELL students, who benefit from Fessenden’s approach to developing independent, 21st century learners. With individualized attention and tutoring support, ELL students quickly become equipped to succeed in mainstream academic classrooms at Fessenden, and at top American secondary schools and colleges.

ELL Program

Our ELL program has three levels designed to accommodate a range of language proficiencies:

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  • ELL 1: Low-Medium Intermediate Speakers

    Boys in our level 1 program 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, are essentially language-acquisition-based courses. Our ELL 1 boys join the appropriate level of math classes with their larger peer group of Fessenden students.
  • ELL 2: High Intermediate Speakers

    In ELL level 2, boys have the language skills necessary to take math and science at the appropriate grade level, with their larger peer group. English literature (reading and writing) and English language (listening and speaking) and history (content course) are provided in “sheltered” classroom settings.
  • ELL 3: Advanced Speakers

    By the time the boys reach ELL level 3, they are fully immersed in the grade-level Fessenden academic program. The only program difference is that ELL boys take English as their world language, while native English speakers may choose from Spanish, Latin, or Mandarin. This continued support in English allows ELL 3 boys to hone their writing skills, which often need attention even after a student has reached a high level of verbal fluency.
  • Core Courses

    1. English - ELL 1 & 2 (Reading/Writing/Vocabulary/Literature)
    2. Language - ELL 1 & 2 (Speaking/Listening/Note-taking/Phonetics)
    3. Science
    4. History
    5. Math
    6. Electives
  • Field Studies

    Our location (just minutes from Boston, one of the leading U.S. academic and historic hubs) is a major advantage for ELL 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:
    • Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
    • Bostonian Society and Old State House Museum (for Boston Massacre Trial)
    • Lowell National Historical Park (for factory work simulation)
  • Residential Life

    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.

Meet the Directors

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The Fessenden School
250 Waltham Street
West Newton, MA 02465
(617) 964-5350

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