Unit nine - ESL students and academic success: the role of administrators

Unit goals

At the end of the unit the participants will have:

Teacher workshops - overview for administrators

Participating teachers had workshops in the 8 topics listed below. Following the topic title is a brief summary of the essential information that was conveyed to teachers in the course of the workshop. (Click the title to go to the starting slide of the workshop.)

Subject-specific training sessions

Upper School Programmes

Administrators make decisions on which academic programmes to offer in school. Here are three programmes that are of significant importance to non-native speakers of English at FIS:

These programmes need:

Further reading:
- The importance of the mother tongue (Shoebottom)
- Bilingual Children's Mother Tongue: Why Is It Important for Education? (Cummins)

Curriculum and scheduling


More on the curricular model that best suits ESL students.


A quote from Professor J. Cummins:

".. all teachers should be knowledgeable about patterns of language .. and also be capable of implementing pedagogical strategies in the mainstream classroom that are effective for both ESL and native-English-speaking students."

Cummins, J. (1994). "Knowledge, Power, and Identity in Teaching English as a Second Language." In F. Genesse (ed.), Educating Second Language Children: The Whole Child, the Whole Curriculum, the Whole Community (pp. 33-58). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


More on school shock.


There is a large body of research* showing that ESL students do better in schools with strong school-home partnerships.

* Cummins, J. Language, Power and Pedagogy

Go to the ESL website for parents

An inclusive school

An inclusive school conveys the message that all students, their languages and cultures are equally important and valued. Inclusivity can be fostered by the following practices:


A workshop participant asked about the value of presentations of the various cultures through assembly dances or display cabinets full of artefacts and pictures. Here is a summary of my response:

"At first glance, it would seem an excellent idea to have periodic assembly performances involving the non-majority cultures of the school. For example, Indian students could demonstrate Indian Classical Dance. The display cabinet could be full of Japanese prints or samurai swords. However, presentations of this kind run the risk of 'exoticizing' the cultures in question. They can be exclusive rather than inclusive practices if they are seen simply as a chance for the majority cultures at the school (i.e American/German) to enjoy the minority cultures (Japanese/Korean/Swedish, etc.). They can serve also to reduce the vast richness of the various cultures to a trivial "food, festivals, and famous people".

It is far better, in my opinion, if the goal of a truly multi-cultural school is achieved first and foremost through  the curriculum and the daily learning experiences of the students in the classroom."

Click for more on the multicultural curriculum.

Further References:

10 Things Every School Leader Should Know About ESL [Very helpful overview]
Changing Instruction for Language Minority Students to Achieve National Goals [A good overview of issues facing administrators of schools with large numbers of ESL students]
What teachers need to know about language [Suggestions for the minimal knowledge all teachers should have about the nature of English - especially in academic contexts (.pdf file)]