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Nicholas Senn High School

TESOL / Multilingual
The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) / Multilingual Department provides instruction and support services to Senn High School's large, culturally diverse population.

Uptown, because of its affordable housing, service agencies, and easy access to public transportation, has historically been a port of entry to the city. The TESOL/ML program offers instruction in English as a Second Language to limited-English proficient students while they are transitioning from their native language to English.

If there are twenty or more students speaking a single language, Senn provides bilingual courses taught by state-certificated instructors. When the program began, bilingual courses were offered in Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, and Assyrian. As time passed and different cultures moved into the area, Senn was eligible to offer courses in Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong and Urdu as well.

The TESOL/ML department offers other support services, as well. Because of the diversity of languages, Senn provides classes taught in "sheltered English." This is a technique in which limited-English proficient students receive instruction in modified English, but the instruction is of the same caliber and at the same level as that provided to their English-speaking peers in the general program of instruction.

The teachers in the sheltered English classes are regularly certified teachers who know that the students in front of them are working hard to learn English as well as the course material. Their goal is to convey the same information in a way these students can understand. They may use a simpler methodology, guard against using complex sentences, and spend more time on vocabulary and demonstrations. They also rework test questions or make them more visual. All of this makes the course content accessible to the limited-English proficient students while maintaining the same high standards of learning.

Once students understand English at a transitional level, they enroll in classes in the general program of instruction. All students in the TESOL/ML program benefit from an education that may not have been available to them in their country of origin. Many go on to enroll in Honors courses, and some to the International Baccalaureate Program, one of the most academically challenging programs at Senn.

All students ultimately benefit from English as a Second Language classes. They learn to get along with a wide range of cultures, beliefs, and ideas by the sheer fact that they share the same classrooms with people from so many different cultures.