English as a Second Language

Country Day proudly welcomes international students and offers them the opportunity to learn the language skills necessary to succeed both academically and socially. 

We are the first independent school in the area to offer students English as a Second Language (ESL), offering international students who speak virtually no English, or who still need time and a special curriculum to become fluent, to be enrolled in an academic program.

The Admissions Office determines the need for English as a Second Language. Prospective students are recommended for ESL based on an interview, an oral English proficiency test, and listening, vocabulary, and reading comprehension tests.

We offer ESL accommodations for all levels—including students in Lower, Middle, and Upper School. 

Classes are designed to meet the learning needs of each student and allow them to work at their own ability and level. Upper School students are offered two levels of ESL instruction, in addition to ESL American History, ESL World History, TOEFL Prep, and Expository/Creative Writing. The classes are designed to meet the learning needs of each student and allow them to work at their own ability and level.

Upper School ESL Classes

ESL Intermediate

This course is designed for Upper School students who need to develop basic language skills for studying content areas in an English-based curriculum. Students learn to communicate in English as they practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, and basic grammatical structures are introduced. Students also develop an understanding of American culture through the discussion, reading, and writing of cultural issues. There is an emphasis on reading and writing skills. Students are taught all of the English verb tenses as well as other intermediate level grammatical skills. Class may be repeated as necessary.

ESL Advanced

This course is offered to Upper School students who have some degree of basic language skills, but require more language development. High-intermediate to low-advanced level reading, writing, and grammatical skills are taught. Students learn to write various essays and review English grammar and composition. Vocabulary-building is emphasized in order to enhance reading comprehension and written expression and they read newspaper articles, short stories, and a novel. Class may be repeated as necessary.

ESL American History

Students develop academic English proficiency and are provided an overview of the major events and characters in American history. Students are encouraged to apply learning strategies and skills to their study of a second language. This course may substitute the required American History course for ESL students.

ESL World History

This course is designed for Upper School students whose proficiency in English requires practice in reading, writing, and speaking techniques. Additionally, research skills are taught with frequent essays and papers. Students receive an overview of world history with an emphasis on European History. The course is offered when applicable to the needs of the ESL students and will meet the European History requirement for ESL students.

TOEFL Preparation

This course is specifically designed for those students preparing to take the TOEFL exam. Reading comprehension, vocabulary, speaking, listening comprehension, and writing skills are emphasized. Practice tests are given and evaluated. This class is for students who have already reached a high degree of English fluency and who are planning to attend an English-speaking university. It may be taken in addition to, but not instead of, an English department credit.

Expository/Creative Writing

This course introduces basic principles of expository writing, with an emphasis on writing to specific audiences to accomplish particular rhetorical purposes, such as to inform, persuade, offer an opinion, or present an analysis. It also includes a review of basic research skills such as summarizing, paraphrasing, footnoting, note-taking, and using library sources. Emphasis is on the development of critical and analytical reading skills, academic writing strategies, and some essential research techniques, including a review of syntax and grammar. Readings feature a variety of genres and forms aimed at different audiences and with varied purposes. The course includes a unit on creative writing.


For questions or additional information on our English as a Second Language program, please contact:
Joe Gardner
Director of ESL