Suffolk University to Offer Summer Program to Help Second Language High School Students Improve Their MCAS English Scores


Suffolk University's Second Language Services department will be hosting an Emerging Scholars Program (ESP) from July 8 through August 15, 2002. This six-week program, which will be conducted Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is designed to aid second language high school students in their acquisition of academic English.

The ESP will service high school juniors who received a score of 214 or below on their recent English MCAS exam. Students will receive instruction in Reading, Writing, Grammar, American History and Communications. These disciplines will be connected thematically to deepen a student's understanding of the materials. The skills courses (Reading, Writing and Grammar) will utilize a content-based structure as a means of advancing language development.

The ESP was made possible by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education. The grant allows for 45 students to participate. This year, the program will be serving students from Malden High School and Brighton High School.

"The students are very excited about coming here to Suffolk to learn and improve their MCAS English scores," said Elaine Pascale, Assistant Director of Second Language Services and ESL Program Coordinator at Suffolk University. "We want them to leave here educated and confident enough to go back and pass the MCAS, receive their high school diploma and then weigh their own options about their future."

As part of this new program, students will be able to utilize the "smart rooms" at the Sawyer School of Management on the Suffolk University campus. These "smart rooms" are equipped with a variety of up-to-date, high-tech, technologically advanced educational materials.

"A lot of these students eventually want to go to college, so this will give them an excellent opportunity to experience what college life is all about," said Pascale. "We also plan on having them eat their lunch each day in the Suffolk Student Café."

In addition to providing academic preparation, the ESP will also offer pre-college advising and learning skills. The advising portion will address readiness for college by providing instruction in college planning, approaches for the application process, and financial aid information. Strategies for transitioning to college will also be addressed, along with suggestions for choosing a major, co-op opportunities and extra-curricular offerings.

Furthermore, students will be directed to identify their individual learning styles, to formulate test-taking and note-taking strategies, and to develop a realistic schema for time management. Once a week, a field trip will be taken. The trip will tie into the theme of the week. For example, when students are studying the American Revolution, they will be taken to see the Boston Tea Party Ship and the site of the Boston Massacre.

The academic segment of ESP will utilize a content-based curriculum similar to that offered in Suffolk University's ESL Program. Studies have shown that language learning is facilitated when the focus of coursework is on meaningful and relevant content rather than on the language itself. The ESP will integrate the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework (June 2001) for grade levels 11-12 into the CBI.

The courses will be thematically linked in order to deepen the student's understanding of the content. The theme of the program will be Journey of a Hero in which literary and historic heroes will be studied along with the differing concepts and definitions of "hero." Students will be asked to reflect upon their own journey through secondary education and into adulthood and to compare their experiences with that of other heroes.

As part of the program, students will be required to assemble a cumulative portfolio, which will be forwarded to the student's high school. The portfolio will contain samples of the student's writing along with an audio sample of the student's speeches.

"This program is a wonderful way for Suffolk to give back and help others in the community," said Pascale. "Who knows? If we are able to receive more funding next year, perhaps we can expand our program and provide this valuable educational resource to students from other communities."

For more information about the Emerging Scholars Program at Suffolk University, please call 617-573-8677.

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