Improving English as a Second Language Instruction at the Secondary Level:
Observations of six middle and high school Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools classrooms in the fall of 2007 raised questions about the clarity of the secondary ESL curriculum and about the knowledge that ESL teachers need to implement best teaching practices. The Tennessee and MNPS ESL standards were examined for guidance they provided to teachers, as these were the only documents that outlined the ESL curriculum. It was revealed that the neither standards document answered the question of what teachers should teach, instead focusing on the skills students should attain. Connections are made between the lack of a clear secondary ESL curriculum and the present/future achievement of higher-proficiency, secondary ESL students. What ESL teachers should know about theory and research on ESL education to be able to effectively enact the curriculum is discussed. Finally, a unit plan and supporting materials are provided that incorporate many of the features of secondary ESL best practices while relating them to the MNPS ESL standards.