Sierra School

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Greetings and WELCOME to Sierra School’s ESL Program

Sierra’s campus is a unique and effective choice for all international students. Unlike many public schools, our English as a Second Language (ESL) program personalizes each child’s level in their journey of English language acquisition.

Sierra ESL Overview Each student will receive a multi-subject assessment that measures English ability in the necessary skills: Reading Comprehension, Writing, History, Listening Comprehension, & Speaking

As each child has different needs in English fluency, our staff will ensure that your child will always be moving forward. Before students join our “Mainstream” program with our native English speakers, ESL students must demonstrate English fluency. What is English fluency?

  • English fluency is the ability to speak or write in the English language easily and accurately.
  • English fluency also means a student can listen to an English-speaking teacher and be able to 100% understand their teacher.
  • English fluency starts at knowing and being able to use the 1000 everyday English words.
  • High school graduates must be able to use at least 5000 words for future academic success

Step 1: Dr. Fry’s 1000 Sight Words:
These 1000 words must be learned to regularly communicate in English
Fun Fact: 1,000 words represent 90% of ALL printed and web material

Step 2: SAT, TOEFL, and College/University Prep:
The average college student’s vocabulary can range from 5000 to over 15,000 words in English. Many of these words are subject specific; however, both SAT and TOEFL tests use these words throughout. In order to be ready for academic success after high school, higher level words must be practiced and used regularly.

Academic Program
Each student will study and use all core ESL subjects on a daily basis:

  • Speaking: Firstly, a daily discussion question (which is student lead) is given and answered by the entire class. Next, a different student will share with the class a news article from and teach two new vocabulary words daily. In addition, presentations, speeches, and group projects will be assigned throughout the school year.
  • Reading: Sierra’s ESL classroom contains an extensive collection of reading comprehension textbooks and a young reader’s library. We emphasize a natural acquisition of vocabulary in conjunction with repetitious practice of correctly using new words. Most importantly, students are taught how reading comprehension is expected in U.S. classrooms and how to correctly infer meaning from written passages, summarize texts, and answer comprehension questions.

  • History: In conjunction with California standards, ESL students learn both world and U.S. history. Our history textbooks also give students additional reading comprehension practice, which is often the most difficult for new English learners. History tests will also be given on a regular basis.
  • Writing: The writing process is a beautiful summary of a student’s language ability.
    Good/effective/high level writing can demonstrate a student’s knowledge in vocabulary, grammar, and overall understanding of the language. Students will learn how to write exemplary college-level paragraphs and essays. Grammar issues will also be addressed and fixed in their own writing.

  • Listening Comprehension: Students will be given a chance to improve their listening skills with hands-on instruction from native speakers in a variety of audio formats (live speech, CD, video, learning apps). Being prepared for understanding native speakers completely (especially native-speaking teachers) is the goal for this class.

Cultural Exchange

International students are also learning more than just academic knowledge at Sierra school!

  • Firstly, international students will learn differences in U.S. classrooms in regards to behavior, student/teacher interaction, academic integrity, and student life.
  • Students will also be taught cultural language, idioms, phrasal verbs, U.S. slang, and Northern California slang. Most cultural language will NOT be found in textbooks, dictionaries, and especially translators! This is due to the fact that living languages are always changing, mutating, and adapting to current trends. (For example, walk on/walk off/walk out/walk in all have completely different idiomatic meanings.)  
  • Cultural holiday exchange is another great way to learn. Like most U.S. classrooms, our ESL students will learn all about holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and others.
  • Schoolwide events, school assemblies, and field trips are opportunities for ESL students to interact and bond with native English speakers in a fun learning environment.
  • Lastly, academic classes earn credits towards a California high school diploma/graduation.

    About the Teacher
    Mr. Sanford has been teaching English as a second language for over 10 years with over 12,000 hours of classroom experience. In addition to expertise in English grammar, academic writing, and reading comprehension, Mr. Sanford can speak Spanish and Japanese. He has traveled to over 30 countries around the world and is often eclectic about cultural knowledge and variances. He has taught all age groups (Pre-school – Adult) and has an extensive background in college readiness.

    Phone: (408)247-4740
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