ELL Program Reform at BHCC
As part of the "Building the Framework for Success" AANAPISI Grant received by Bunker Hill Community College in the fall of 2016, the ESL Department began the process of revising its ESL program to accelerate students’ progression into content classes. Informed by student data at BHCC and our own faculty-led research on best ESL teaching practices, we devised a more accelerated and streamlined course sequence with thematic and integrated-skills ELL classes, many which are linked to credit content classes. In Spring 2018, we began developing and teaching pilot ELL courses based on this new model.
The purpose of this page is to document the research and ideas that have informed this program reform as well as its outcomes.
Overview of the ELL Classes
The ELL courses at BHCC integrate critical reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in English through immersion in a selected theme, challenging academic content and campus- and/or community-based learning. Students participate in group work and connect the content to their own lives, using language in multiple ways.
Additionally these courses
- Are designed around culturally relevant themes and materials.
- Assess student work holistically through multiple measures such as portfolios and project assignments.
- Link high-level ESL classes with college credit classes, such as ENG-111 and SOC-101, through learning communities.
- Provide a shorter sequence of ESL classes and greater possibilities for student acceleration through ESL and into college content courses.
- Provide embedded student support services built into the pilot classes, such as success coaches, ACE mentors and tutoring support from the Language Lab.
From Spring 2018 - Spring 2020, the new ELL pilot model and sequence proved highly successful based on both student and teacher focus group data as well as data showing exiting BHCC ELL pilot students completing gateway courses at the same or higher rates than non-ELL students. During that time, the ESL Department began to institutionalize components of this reform, such as formally adopting a new mission statement, defining new course and program outcomes (see sidebar), and changing our name to the ELL Department. In spring of 2020, these changes were formally institutionalized by approval of the General Education Standards committee and College Forum with a streamlined 3 course ELL sequence with each course earning 6 credits of transferable credit.
See the research findings synthesized by a team of ESL faculty and staff at BHCC on best practices for teaching ESL
Key readings that informed the research findings:
The ELL Across the Curriculum Workshop (ELL-ATC) Series
Facilitated by an ELL Department faculty member, the ELL-ATC Series is designed to train content faculty to better support the English language learners in their classes though a series of workshops that follow a PD model of learning, practice and reflection.
The ELL-ATC workshop series is a collaborative project of the ELL Department and the Language Lab. Facilitated by an ELL Department faculty member, it is designed to train content faculty to better support the English language learners in their classes though an in-depth review and exploration of best ELL practices and a self-study in design, integration and application of these practices in their classes. Instead of the traditional professional development model of faculty coming together for one day to listen to presenters, this series follows a PD model of learning, practice and reflection.
Organization and Timeline
Scheduled over a period of roughly 2 months, the ELL-ATC Workshop Series is composed of a facilitator from the ELL Department and a cohort of 5-10 content faculty who meet weekly to learn and share how to best address their self-identified needs in supporting their ELL students. The series is organized around the top 3-4 needs (or topics) as defined by the cohort with 2 workshops devoted to each topic. For the initial workshop, the faculty participants learn practices for addressing that need through an introductory reading and discussion as well as a demonstration from other content faculty or the facilitator in applying these practices. Then during the following week, the faculty participants apply their learning by trying out the practice either in class or by revising a lesson or material based on that practice. For the subsequent workshop they report back on their experience or work and reflect on their learning.
- Attend and participate in all scheduled workshops
- Bring lessons, assignments and/or reflections to workshops that you have written or modified based on your learning in this Series
- Post a lesson or assignment and a reflection on E-Portfolio at the end of the Series to demonstrate their learning and share their new knowledge and findings with the BHCC community.
A good candidate for this workshop series will:
- Have a positive attitude towards English language learners in their classes.
- An interest in the language acquisition process and how the classroom environment can be designed to foster student assets.
- Be willing to experiment with different kinds of teaching methodologies and curriculum design.