More than two hundred eighth grade students took part in a special rigorous English language immersion program this summer at New York City Technical College and LaGuardia Community College. The pilot program, a collaboration between The City University of New York and the Board of Education, was modeled on CUNY’s successful year-old pre-college Language Immersion program.
The six-week program, which concluded August 15th, uses the theme “Summer in the City.” The ESL students, who completed the eighth grade, were identified as being able to profit from an intensive reading and writing experience in the summer before entering high school. They worked from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week, reading books such as Catcher in the Rye, using computers and the Internet to do research for papers, and writing a Guide to New York City. They went on trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places of interest and wrote about them. Even their hour of gym each day was part of their English lessons.
These students will be in the first group subject to the more rigorous Regents exams when they finish high school. The program was aimed at giving them a head start on their studies. Students who satisfactorily completed the program received two high school credits. An evaluation and a portfolio of their work will be sent to their high school principal for placement in further ESL classes if needed.
CUNY will follow up this summer’s language immersion work by offering special activities to the high school students on CUNY campuses throughout the school year. In addition, to gauge the impact of this kind of intensive educational intervention, CUNY will track these students through their high school years.