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Walnut Hill School for the Arts

English Language Learning


Walnut Hill is a more complete and interesting community thanks in large part to the international students who come to live, learn, and practice their art here. Many of our international students are non-native English speakers, and for those students we offer an English Language Learning program designed to help with their coursework give them the resources they need to succeed at Walnut Hill and beyond.

Requirements in English Language Learning

All non-native English speakers are required to take an English Language Learning (ELL) placement test at the beginning of the school year. The test results, in conjunction with placement classes, writing samples, interviews, and placement materials, determine placement in the ELL program. ELL courses count toward Walnut Hill’s four-year English graduation requirement.

Students placed in ELL Intermediate cannot have a grade placement higher than grade 10, as they must spend a majority of their academic time studying English in order to prepare for other coursework in the program. Between semesters, a student may be able to advance in his or her ELL level by showing a strong performance and with the recommendation of the department, the Director of Studies, and the student’s advisor.

Students who demonstrate appropriate skills in English and place out of the ELL program will take either American Literature and Culture or a regular grade-level English course as offered by the Humanities Department.

Courses in English Language Learning

ELL INTERMEDIATE

This two-semester course focuses on building a strong foundation in grammatical skills. Through a series of intensive grammar exercises, vocabulary development and syntax, the students will become more proficient at producing a wider variety of language in both their speaking and writing. Classroom tasks are designed to promote active language use through group work that requires collaboration and participation. Course materials include novels that explore the social dynamics in American culture. Placement is determined by the ELL placement test.

The grammar points that this course focuses on include:

  • use of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, articles)
  • use of tenses, particularly the simple and continuous forms of past, present tenses
  • frequently used irregular verbs, modals and prepositions
  • adverbs of frequency
  • comparative, superlative adjective forms
  • nouns used as adjectives
  • idioms and phrasal verbs
  • simple and compound sentence structures

ELL SPEAKING AND LISTENING

Taken in conjunction with ELL Intermediate class, this one semester-long course prepares students to engage fully in the Walnut Hill experience. The course focuses on the improvement of the listening and speaking skills that will be necessary for success in all areas of school life including: academics, arts, and social environments. The course is designed to develop student’s confidence and competency necessary to maintain basic conversations, ask questions, express opinions, and interact with peers and teachers. The coursework includes activities that focus on pronunciation, conversing with peers in and out of the classroom, note taking, language lab exercises, conducting presentations, and listening to lectures and speeches.

ELL READING AND WRITING I

Taken in conjunction with ELL Intermediate class, this one semester course is designed to build a strong foundation of reading and writing skills necessary for future academic classes. Students will expand vocabulary usage and progress from writing grammatically correct sentences to structured paragraphs. The goal of the class is to provide students with practice to further develop their reading and writing skills needed to comprehend material in higher level courses.

ELL ADVANCED

This two-semester course is designed to expand upon the skills and language proficiency acquired in previous studies and to further develop skills for academic expression in oral and written presentations. A particular emphasis is on academic writing and analysis, utilizing different artistic works including: novels, plays, articles, films, audio recordings, images, and personal interviews. Classroom tasks are designed to promote active use of the language in small and large groups where students are expected to defend and challenge ideas meaningfully. Placement is determined by the ELL placement test.

The grammar points that this course focuses on include:

  • tense and aspect of verbs
  • perfect tenses
  • subject - verb agreement
  • noun phrases and clauses, adverbial clauses, and relative clauses
  • conditional clauses, real and unreal
  • less commonly used modals, prepositions and phrasal verbs
  • Gerunds
  • complex sentence structures

ELL READING AND WRITING II

Taken in conjunction with ELL Advanced class, this one semester course is designed to continue the development of the reading and writing skills necessary for future mainstream academic classes. The students will learn to read and write in English in a more complete and nuanced way through intensive exercise in both areas. Students will acquire and be required to employ a wider array of grammatical concepts and vocabulary in order to broaden their expression. Students will read authentic English literature and develop close reading and analytical skills in order to be able to interpret increasingly complex texts and write about them.

ELL Faculty

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