Hackettstown School District

Home of the Tigers

Hackettstown Public Schools
English Language Learners
English as a Second Language Program


Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students come to the Hackettstown School District from a variety of language and cultural backgrounds as well as with varied level of English skills.  These LEP students enter our district through the elementary magnet school, grades K-4; the middle school, grades 5-8; or the high school, grades 9-12.  To meet the challenge of providing relevant and necessary instruction, each school groups the students according to proficiency in speaking, reading, writing and listening comprehension skills in English.  This homogenous grouping is achieved by using the MAC II test for initial placement.

To help ensure that English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction will meet the academic and life needs of the LEP population, the district has rewritten the ESL curriculum.  Using the goals and standards outlined in the New Jersey Department of Education’s Aligning the TESOL ESL Standards to the New Jersey Standards for Language Arts Literacy, the ESL Curriculum Committee reviewed each of the goals, standards and progress indicators.  Next, for each goal, proficiencies were identified.  The individual committee members then identified sample activities for each of the proficiencies.  These sample activities are correlated to the needs and overall skills of the student population for each of the three grade levels.
To guarantee that ESL instruction addresses the different learning styles and the educational level of the LEP population, a variety of instructional approaches and materials are used.  Overall, instruction focuses on the four main communication skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.  ESL teachers provide additional instructional help in content-area studies to help students achieve academically.  Authentic materials are used extensively to teach communicative competence and to help LEP students to communicate in social settings. Ongoing assessments provide feedback to both the instructors and students.
In an effort to work towards effective infusion of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in instruction, an in-district staff development course to address effective teaching strategies to benefit ESL students is presented by our ESL instructors.  All district personnel have the opportunity to attend this and all other workshops offered by the district, county, state and other organizations, including TESOL. 
All LEP students receive a minimum of 45 and a maximum of 90 instructional minutes daily in the ESL program.  In addition to the students working individually and in small groups with the ESL teacher, the LEP students may also work with a bilingual teaching assistant.  In the elementary schools, the teaching assistant provides implementation of content area lesson plans designed by the mainstream teacher in consultation with the ESL instructor and implemented under the direction of the ESL teacher.  In the middle school and high school, the teaching assistants are placed in content area subjects to provide additional support for LEP students as needed. As a result, all LEP students, including the bilingual population, receive extended services.

Throughout the year, ESL teachers meet with LEP students’ classroom teachers to ensure that additional instructional needs are identified and addressed.  At the end of the academic year, students are tested using the ACCESS.  Test results, along with observations by the classroom teachers and conversations with the students and/or their parents, guide placement of ESL students in mainstream English classes or in ESL classes.

The district recognizes that proficiency in English is central to the success of our students, both in and outside of the academic setting.  The ESL program, therefore, has developed the following goals and objectives:


  •  Goal I: To use English to communicate in social settings (Kindergarten – 12th Grade)
    • Objective: Students will use English to participate in social interaction.
      • This means that students should be able to use English to talk to others for social purposes, e.g. to make plans to go shopping or to talk on the phone.
    •  Objective: Students will interact in, through and with spoken and written English for personal expression and enjoyment.
      • This means that students should be able to use English to read books, watch television, listen to music, and use technology for fun.
    • Objective: Students will use learning strategies to extend their communicative competence.
      • This means that students should be able to think about how they learn and use English for social purposes. Then they should be able to apply learning strategies that they use in new situations (e.g., asking a friend to explain a word) so they can learn more English.
  •  Goal II: To use English to achieve academically in all content areas (Kindergarten – 12th Grade)
    • Objective: Students will use English to interact in the classroom.
      • This means that students should be able to use English to do things in the classroom, such as get materials for projects, ask permission to change seats, and explain why they were absent.
    • Objective: Students will use English to obtain, process, construct and provide subject matter information in spoken and written form.
      • This means that students should be able to use English to learn new concepts in science, math, English, music, and other content areas. They should be able to read and write about different topics and discuss them too.
    • Objective: Students will use appropriate learning strategies to construct and apply academic knowledge.
      • This means that students should be able to think about how they learn and remember information in content classes. Then they should be able to apply these learning strategies (e.g., grouping similar words and concepts, visualizing a concept to remember new information) to new academic situations so they can learn more English and complete content area work.
    • Objective: Students will demonstrate academic achievement towards the Core Curriculum Content Standards
      • This means the students will develop a level of English language proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking that will enable the LEP student to function at or above grade level in all subject areas, mastering the Core Curriculum Content Standards, and meeting district and state requirements for graduation.
  • Goal III: To use English in socially and culturally appropriate ways (Kindergarten – 12th Grade)
    • Objective: Students will use the appropriate language variety, register and genre according to audience, purpose and setting.
      • This means that students should be able to use forms of English correctly for different formal and informal situations, such as a job interview, a party, or a doctor visit.
    • Objective: Students will use non-verbal communication appropriate to audience, purpose and setting.
      • This means that students should be able to communicate non-verbally according to the common patterns of behavior in their community (e.g., how and when to look at someone; how close to stand to friends, teachers and strangers; what hand gestures are considered polite).
    • Objective: Students will use appropriate learning strategies to extend their socio-linguistic and socio-cultural competence.
      • This means that students should be able to think about how they learn what behavior is correct in different social and cultural settings. Then they should be able to apply the learning strategies they use in new situations. 
  • Goal IV: Teachers will encourage their school district to develop an ESL objectives-based curriculum and assessment system.
    • Objective: Develop a curriculum and assessment system that is aligned to ensure the ESL objectives are uniform.
      • Students and teachers alike will have common expectations of what ESL students should know and be able to do as a result of their ESL classes. A variety of materials are available to help educators use these objectives.
    • Objective: Teachers will participate in curriculum development efforts.
      • Such efforts provide excellent professional development opportunities and allow teachers to explore the ESL objectives and objectives-based instruction more deeply. When teachers develop curricula, they decide what objectives ESL students should meet in specific grades and at specific levels of proficiency in English.
    • Objective: Teachers will  initiate professional development activities in their schools using the ESL objectives to discuss with other teachers methods to improve the academic achievement of ESL students.
  • Goal V: To develop and maintain in each student a positive attitude toward his/her own native culture and an appreciation of cultural diversity.
Teachers can use the ESL objectives in their own instructional program
  • Teachers can use the descriptors and sample progress indicators to measure the effectiveness of their own teaching. To do so, teachers could develop lessons that provide students with opportunities to perform the activities described in the descriptors and sample progress indicators.
  • Teachers can develop assessments or checklists that measure how well their students are attaining the ESL Objectives.
Thematic Unit Planning for ESL
  • Teachers plan instruction around themes to maximize opportunities for students to acquire language and concepts.
  • Teachers should integrate the language arts: listening, speaking, reading and writing into each theme-based unit.
  • Teachers base their instruction on a thorough understanding of learning theory, including metacognitive, cognitive and social/affective strategies and processes that learners employ to enhance their linguistic and content-area knowledge.
Classroom Organization and Management for English Language Learners in an ESL class
  • Teachers organize literacy instruction based on a logical progression from structured teacher-guided activities toward increasing levels of independent reading and writing activities.
Lesson Planning for ESL Instruction
  • Teachers select appropriate methods of instruction to enhance second-language acquisition, literacy development and content-area knowledge.
  • Teachers structure systematic lessons to include presentations of concepts and vocabulary and many opportunities for guided and independent practice.
  • Teachers plan for high levels of student participation focused on both the process and the final products of the learning experience.
  • Teachers provide integrated, guided and shared reading and writing activities
Evaluation and Selection of Appropriate Instructional Materials and Activities
  • Teachers select activities to meet the ESL goals and objectives for each student based on formal and informal assessments of the students’ linguistic and cognitive development.
  • Teachers plan carefully for students' concept development and critical thinking skills using a variety of interactive and independent teaching strategies.
  • Teachers analyze and select literacy texts for instruction and independent reading based on student’s skill levels and ability to handle the challenges of the text.
  • Teachers design and implement balanced literacy and bilingual instruction to meet the learning needs and challenges of all bilingual students.
Content-Area Instruction
  • Teachers relate content-area knowledge and Core Curriculum Content Standards for age and/or grade level language and literacy development.
  • Teachers develop lesson plans that integrate content and concept development into ESL instruction and learning activities.
  • Teachers design structured learning activities and prepare classroom experiences to enhance content-area reading by guiding students in their abilities to analyze and reflect on content area text structures and patterns of exposition.
Evaluation and Assessment
  • Teachers conduct on-going assessment to monitor English language and literacy development.
  • Teachers collaborate with administrators to ensure that the ESL program has sound pedagogical principles and is supported with appropriate materials and personnel resources for effective implementation.
 Multi-cultural Education
  • Teachers continually refine their knowledge of linguistic and cultural factors that promote English language acquisition and the overall development and well-being of diverse learners.
  • Teachers use multicultural literature to enhance and refine student enjoyment and appreciation of their own and each other's cultures.
Advocacy for English Language Learners
  • Teachers are informed about the federal and state legal requirements and policies that affect their design of programs and their modes of delivery of instruction in the classroom for their students designated as ELL.
  • Teachers assume an active and appropriate role in promoting sound policies and decisions regarding educating ELL in their capacity as educators and as citizens in a culturally and linguistically diverse society.

Knowledge Base and Teaching Philosophy

  • Teachers continually grow professionally by reflecting on their practices and engaging with current research in language and literacy development and teaching.
  • Teachers articulate a philosophy of bilingual and second-language education based on a knowledge base that is congruent with their values and beliefs and connected to their personal and professional experiences.
  • Teachers access research and scholarly writing about policies and practices that increase their effectiveness with language minority students and second language learners.

The Hackettstown School District has developed this basic philosophical view of our ESL Programs: 

Limited English Proficiency students, like all other students, are entitled to equal and appropriate educational opportunities that will prepare them to function socially, academically and politically in our local community and in our democratic society.  They are offered equal opportunities and encouraged to participate in all academic, co-curricula and extra-curricula activities in the school district and community.  Additionally, our 9th through 12th grade LEP students participating in the ESL program may earn credits towards fulfilling their foreign language requirement or elective credits based on their placement in the ESL program.
Our country is constantly developing and expanding its cultural and linguistic diversity and the fundamental goal of the ESL program is to provide each student the opportunity to experience a nurturing, culturally sensitive and educationally-sound learning environment.  The environment is designed to meet the wide variety of needs presented by our LEP student population while promoting understanding, tolerance and acceptance for all citizens and their cultures.  The environment ensures high-quality instruction, which fully addresses the Core Curriculum Content Standards providing our LEP students with the skills needed for academic and life success.