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English as a Second Language


The Progression of Learning for the Elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs reaffirms the crucial role that knowledge plays in the development of the ESL competencies. This document is a supplement to the existing ESL programs. The Progression of Learning presents in detail the Essential Knowledge sections of the ESL programs. It provides teachers with a framework to include the necessary elements of knowledge when planning the development of the ESL competencies.

The Progression of Learning respects the categories that constitute the Essential Knowledge sections of the Elementary ESL programs. In Cycle One, the categories are: Contextual Language, Strategies and Cultural Elements. In Cycles Two and Three, the categories are: Functional Language, Strategies, Language Conventions, Text Components and Cultural Products.

The Cycle One program reflects research that shows that young learners benefit more from living the language than from learning about it. Cycle One students are drawn to the rhythmicality1 (i.e. sounds and stress patterns, intonation, rhythm and pace) of spoken language, their primary source of input, and try to make sense of what they hear in order to participate actively in classroom life.

In Cycles Two and Three, students continue to build their knowledge of English in order to become better communicators. The Elementary Cycles Two and Three program is based on the communicative approach. Research shows that learners need to be given numerous opportunities to practise and use language in meaningful contexts. Furthermore, learners benefit from explicit focus on form linked to these contexts.

The symbol → used in the Progression of Learning chart for Cycle One has a different connotation from the same symbol used in the general legend. It signifies that students are becoming aware of new knowledge while developing the competencies To act on understanding of texts and To communicate orally in English. The symbol is used to link elements of essential knowledge in the Cycle One program with corresponding elements in the Cycles Two and Three program. It is clear that Cycle One sets the stage for the development of the Cycles Two and Three competencies: To interact orally in English, To reinvest understanding of oral and written texts and To write texts.

. . . communicative competence should be the goal of language education,
central to good classroom practice.

S. J. Savignon

The term rhythmicality is used in the Elementary Cycle One program. It appears in the article "Poetry and Song as Effective Language-learning Activities" by Alan Maley (Rivers, Wilga M. Interactive Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, p.93.)