English as a Second Language Programs

Subject: Linguistics
Pages: 9
Words: 2224
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: College


The current U.S. education system is characterized by the need for parents from all regions around the globe who wish to see their kids securing the best education for a better future. In other words, such parents have the chance to take their children to American-based schools that they deem fit for their children regardless of their home languages. As such, this provision has led to students with different languages sharing the same classes or schools in America. According to Kim, Hutchison, and Winsler (2015), the United States is among the countries that have witnessed a huge number of kids who seek education in the country, despite them coming from regions where English is not their first language. Since such students are spread across almost all schools in America, the situation has left the country with no choice other than coming up with strategies or models that can accommodate learners who are not capable of conversing or understanding English when it is deployed as the language of instruction in class (Vollman, 2017). Although English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual program frameworks have been adopted in many countries that seek to address the challenge of the rising diverse student population, this paper only focuses on the way the U.S. has applied particular models in its schools. However, the paper appreciates the fact that each method is effectively adopted based on the learners’ level of demand for English as a Second Language.

ESL Program Models

ESL program frameworks are adopted in areas where learners who are in need of English skills in a class have diverse languages. As such, ESL strategies are designed to address the English needs of learners who share similar classes, despite having various language backgrounds (Vargas-Vergara, Bas-Peña, & Esteban-Ibáñez, 2015). It is crucial to note that the establishment of different ESL models was informed by the need to fulfill the equally diverse English needs of Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) learners (Center for Schools and Communities, 2015). Nonetheless, the key agenda of any ESL framework is to ensure that all learners acquire sufficient English skills to the extent that they can be comfortable sitting in a class where the instructor deploys English as the teaching language. Here, all learners can equally participate in asking questions or contributing to class discussions since none of them needs an extra time to seek assistance to interpret the content that is delivered in class (Dennis, 2017). In America, several aspects determine the choice of each ESL plan, including the number of learners to be taught, the distinct traits of each student, and the resources available to the respective states or regions to cater to the services.

The Pull-Out Model

As the name suggests, this ESL teaching strategy involves “pulling” learners out of the main class and taking them in a separate venue where they can meet with an instructor who takes them through an ESL program. This strategy is mostly adopted in elementary teaching or learning levels where a certain amount of time is allocated every day for this particular group of LEP learners to enhance their English skills in class. It is imperative to point out that several instructors may be tasked with carrying out this instruction method, especially when the number of learners who require their services is substantially big to the extent that an equally big room has to be secured to accommodate all students. However, if the number is considerably small and scattered within a particular region with the U.S., a single instructor is deployed to traverse the various schools within some stipulated timeframes where he or she can deliver content in English to the respective learners.

Smith (2016) offers a specific plan that is adapted to deliver content to ESL learners under the pull-out program. According to him, “ESL program method entails Limited-English-Proficient learners utilizing the better part of their day in typical classes where they are presented with at least 45 minutes of English as a Second Language lessons that are expected to be delivered for at least two or three times within the normal five days of teaching (Smith, 2016). The study carried out by the Center for Schools and Communities (2015) paints a picture of the situation in Pennsylvania where the pull-out/push-in method is heavily deployed in schools. According to the article, the method is adopted since “Lower level English proficiency students require more direct English instruction from English as a Second Language (ESL) program specialists” (Center for Schools and Communities, 2015, p. 1). This method takes place during normal school hours. In other words, instructors are not allowed to separate learners when major subjects such as math or science among others are being taught. The “pulled out” learners are only presented with ESL writing and reading tactics.

Class Period ESL Method

The class period ESL program model may be viewed as an advanced level of the pull-out method. While the pull-out method involves taking ESL students out of class to another venue where they can be taught English by the respective instructors, this program entails presenting ESL lessons during the normal class time. Learners here are not given a chance to go out of the class. In fact, the program is mostly deployed among middle and high school learners who are assumed to have received ESL basics during their earlier (elementary) levels. In fact, learners here primarily focus on enhancing their proficiency in English, both via speaking and writing. They do not depict major issues when it comes to interpreting the content taught or comprehending it whenever the instructor is delivering it in class. Attaining the required student-teacher objectives calls for heightened collaboration between the involved parties, including students’ readiness to thoroughly read, review, and revise what has been presented in class. According to Tuchman (2010), “students here learn English using as much basic academic concepts, principles, and vocabulary from the mainstream curriculum as possible” (p. 10).

However, since this program is regarded as a normal subject, it is crucial to note that the course is not compulsory. In other words, those who choose it as one of the discretionary subjects have to be tested by the end of the course to gauge their level of ESL proficiency. Smith (2016) echoes similar sentiments when he depicts the program as a repeatedly planned elective ESL course in the middle and higher learning institutions, including the secondary level of education. As earlier mentioned, the objective of this ESL program method is to ensure that the respective Limited-English-Proficient learners attain a grade-level aptitude when it comes to “listening, speaking, reading, and writing as measured by the ACCESS (state-adopted English proficiency test)” (Smith, 2016, para. 2). Hence, the class period ESL method may be used to gauge whether a learner has acquired sufficient English skills based on the results from the ACCESS tool. Those who perform below par may be given more time to revisit the program if they wish to do so to sharpen their English reading and writing expertise.

Bilingual Program Models

As opposed to ESL program models discussed above whereby English is deployed as the sole language of instruction, bilingual frameworks appreciate the need to incorporate the learner’s native language in addition to English in the study process. According to Kim et al. (2015), it is possible to erode a learner’s first language, especially when he or she is introduced to a new language (English in this case) for an extended period. Hence, bilingual program methods seek to ensure that while the learner acquires ESL skills, he or she gets a chance to also learn using his or her native language during the instruction process. To cater to the needs of students who lie in this category, the U.S. has introduced various bilingual programs that include “the two-way immersion, submersion, and transitional bilingual education among others” (Kim et al., 2015, p. 236). The execution of bilingual programs is typically and conveniently done in regions where the size of the student population having an analogous language setting is considerably large to the extent of necessitating the use of the home language in addition to English.

The Two-Way Immersion (TWI) Model

According to Kim et al. (2015), the two-way immersion instruction approach has received substantial adoption across many regions in the United States. This form of instruction has been adopted in America for the last four decades. Important to note, the two-way immersion method continues to gain momentum in the U.S. Since two languages are deployed during the instruction process, it is also crucial to point out that two categories of learners participate in the program: those who use English as their first language and those who deploy another language other than English (Kim et al., 2015). Quite often, students from Spain who seek studies in America benefit most from this program since the other language is usually Spanish. It may be imperative to benchmark the situation in America using another country, for instance, Germany, to gauge the extent to which the former country is utilizing the TWI models. In this case, Meier’s (2010) article may help to accomplish this goal.

Meier (2010) carried out a study on the benefits that two-way immersion programs had on students in Germany. However, the article revealed a strange trend whereby such programs are rarely mentioned in English materials that are published to serve the student population in the country, despite the TWI models being in existence in Germany for the last 5 decades. Meier (2010) concludes that although the country has a diverse student population that may require TWI programs, it is possible that such strategies have not been beneficial to bilingual learners in Germany relative to the situation in the U.S. In fact, Kim et al. (2015) acknowledge the fact that America appreciates the key role that TWI programs play in enhancing language skills not only among LEP learners but also among native students. In America, TWI models are devised not only to assist language-minority learners to attain supplementary natural bilingualism but also to enhance indigenous English-speaking learners’ capacity to communicate using foreign languages.

The Early-Exit Bilingual Model

The early-exit instruction strategy is often referred to as the transitional bilingual education (TBE) method whereby learners are taught in both English and their home language. This method is introduced to learners in regions where the number of bilingual tutors may be significantly small relative to the population size of students who are in need of TBE programs (Zhang, Xia, Fan, & Zhu, 2016). However, according to Kim et al. (2015), this method only lasts for a specified period before the learners’ home language, which is different from English, is eliminated from the course. It is crucial to note that the phasing out of the student’s native language is done strategically at a time when the instructor deems it fit and convenient for all learners to be taught using English only (Fern & Marlene, 2016). This method is regarded as effectively fulfilling the principal objective of introducing ESL courses in the United States’ schools. As earlier stated, the primary objective entails assisting learners from countries that do not deploy English as their native language to acquire proficiency in ESL within the shortest time possible (Kim et al., 2015).

In other words, the move to eliminate the “other” language is founded on the awareness that the learner does not have to be extra dependent on his or her home language during the course period. In addition, incorporating the two languages until the end of the learner’s course duration may compromise his or her capacity to master English to the required level. However, Fern and Marlene (2016) reveal that Massachusetts eliminated the entire early-exit program and substituted it with the sheltered English immersion plan whereby learners who depict minimal proficiency or completely lack English-language expertise are put in classes with tutors who deliver virtually all coursework in English. The new instruction plan allows students to join pure-English classes after 12 months. Kim et al.’s (2015) study demonstrate the effectiveness of the early-exit program whereby “Research with second-grade students shows that language-minority students in TBE programs outperform their counterparts in ESL-only programs” (p. 238). This outcome is expected since the instruction plan boosts the learner’s home language proficiency.


The contemporary education system in America creates an opportunity whereby a child from France, Spain, and Germany among others may be enrolled in a school where English is deployed as the instruction language. Following the need for parents to have their children benefit from the same content delivered in English, the situation has been challenging for non-English speakers who have to struggle to get other parties who can interpret it to them. It is possible that the interpreter will not avail of content that matches what the instructor delivers in class. Hence, it has been challenging for the U.S. that has to accommodate students from foreign regions that do not comprehend the instruction language. This paper has presented a detailed study of some of the commonly used programs that seek to enhance English language speaking and writing tactics among ESL learners. Specifically, the paper has discussed ESL models such as the pull-out and the class period instruction strategies. The TWI and the early-exit frameworks have been presented as some of the bilingual programs that have been established in America to cater to the rising number of ESL learners.


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Dennis, T. (2017). Eight language program models: Four linguistic roads. In-Sight. Web.

Fern, J., & Marlene, F. (2016). The role of the press in framing the bilingual education debate: Ten years after sheltered immersion in Massachusetts. New England Journal of Public Policy, 28(2), 1-22.

Kim, Y., Hutchison, L., & Winsler, A. (2015). Bilingual education in the United States: An historical overview and examination of two-way immersion. Educational Review, 67(2), 236-252.

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