The Summer English Language Learners Program in Somerville

The Summer Program for English Language Learners (SPELL) will soon be wrapping up another summer, having spent the month of July continuing its goal to enhance and enrich the education of its students. With two main sections, Elementary School SPELL for rising 1st-8th graders and Secondary School SPELL for rising 9th-12th graders, this program uses explicit English language teaching that is intended to compliment the academic content the students will face in the fall.

A typical day at SPELL might include a field trip to explore local communities, developing the language to talk about these experiences, studying different conversational topics, or reading and writing around related subjects of study. The field trips to various places in the Greater Boston area are a key element of the SPELL program. They allow students to better understand their surrounding communities and to have points of reference in their conversations and writings, such as background knowledge of the ecological themes in science that they might be learning. Throughout the program, teachers aim to provide their students with the vocabulary to discuss these culturally rich environments. This focus on experiential learning makes the SPELL program different from a typical day during the school year.

SPELL aims to prepare students for the academic curriculums they will face during the school year and to build experiences to help them be more successful in other areas of study. The program is specifically designed to aid a student in their English learning outside of the regular school schedule and coursework. Quality English instruction is very important to SPELL, making sure they best fit the needs of each child.

The parents of children in SPELL also have the opportunity to take advantage of free English classes, made possible through a partnership with the Welcome Project, a community-based organization that works to empower and support Somerville’s immigrant community. The parent program allows adults to learn in parallel to their children, with classes offered at the same time as the elementary and secondary school ones. Parents can come Monday-Thursday for English classes, with workshops offered on Friday to help families be more prepared and successful in navigating the school system and its expectations. These workshops feature topics such as Parenting in America, Communicating with your Child’s Teacher, and Helping your Child with Homework.

Julie Doten, Tisch Summer Fellow

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