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Today’s guest blog post is by Mr. Chris Hill, our Director of Administrative Affairs, College Advisor, and International Student Advisor.  

ESOL at Oak Hill: A Focus on Support, Academic Progress and Individual Growth for International Students

The ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) department at Oak Hill Academy offers students whose first language is not English a dedicated time to hone their English skills.  With this daily support, students are able to establish a valuable foundation that will be needed on their academic and personal journeys. English proficiency also is key in preparing for a college or university education in the United States.

Our approach to ESOL is direct. While incorporating a standard ESOL curriculum, we strive to support students with their entire academic schedules. Reading and writing are core components of our ESOL program.  Focusing on organization, communication, and effective study skills, we help each student set goals for the year, and work hand in hand with teachers to make sure students make progress in attaining those goals.  Along the way, English grammar and vocabulary is emphasized.

Oak Hill Academy is a boarding school, and this provides students with a full immersion environment. As students branch out into the wider Oak Hill community, they begin to experience personal growth as well as academic growth. ESOL students can expect not only to become successful communicators, but also to evolve and challenge themselves to do new, exciting things. The best gauge of success for any ESOL student is academic achievement and a new self-awareness that comes with personal growth, leading to confidence and competency.

Perhaps the best part about our ESOL program is that it’s seen by most of the students as just another class. They don’t feel as if they are separate from the student body in a special classroom. It’s part of their day and not an all-consuming factor of their life at Oak Hill. If they do need extra support, the department is always willing and able to work with each student individually outside of the regular school day.  Many come to view their ESOL teacher in the same light they would an academic counselor or tutor.