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The Shelby County Schools’ ESL Program has been recognized at both the state and national level for outstanding programming. Our most recent honor was the selection by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the 20 Model Language Instruction English Programs in the country.

Eight cornerstones have contributed to the success of our organization in promoting student English language acquisition:

  1. English Language Acquisition‐ The SCS ESL Program has focused on explicitly building English language acquisition by incorporating the Tennessee ESL Standards into the teaching of content. Teachers are aware of the different functions of the English language, how those functions connect with classroom content, and how to teach the forms needed to comprehend and express new learning in both the ESL and regular classroom.

  2. Academics‐ The SCS ESL Department assists in helping families and students register and acclimate to the American school system. While time is spent teaching BICS, or Basic Communicative Language Skills, the primary focus for all students, even newcomers, is to provide background knowledge, academic vocabulary and language, and literacy skills so that English learners can profit from and participate in their regular classroom setting.

  3. Literacy‐ Because many of the new English learners come to the district with limited English literacy skills, the district uses a research‐based literacy program (SIPPS) that quickly and systematically builds phonics, decoding and encoding skills, sight words, English language structure, and vocabulary.

  4. A Vibrant Regular Classroom and ESL Teacher Partnership‐ ESL teachers regularly communicate with classroom teachers in order to support students emotionally, socially, and academically. Regular communication also ensures that ESL teachers can frontload, or preteach, new vocabulary, language structure, and background knowledge that students will be studying in the near future. Frontloading prepares English learners to more fully participate in their regular classroom program and reduces the need for intervention.

  5. Regular Inter‐Department Communication‐ The ESL department communicates and meets formally and informally to share new research, examine student data, teaching strategies, and hone instructional practices. These meetings strengthen our effectiveness at each school site district wide.

  6. Curriculum Autonomy‐The needs of every English learner are taken into account as ESL teachers plan and implement their teaching program. Because ESL teachers have autonomy, they can better match language acquisition to the regular classroom content goals of each student. This careful planning and implementation supports more rapid growth in English language proficiency while simultaneously building academic content knowledge.

  7. Immigrant Support‐ Shelby County Schools is the only district in the State of Tennessee that has a facilitator assigned directly to work with immigrants. The district immigrant facilitator works closely with new students, parents, teachers, and other community agencies to participate more fully in the American education system.

  8. SCS ESL Web Site‐ The Shelby County Schools’ ESL Program features a comprehensive website for ESL support for local schools. This website is also used nationally and internationally as a resource tool by other ESL programs and school districts.

English As A Second Language Staff

Todd Goforth, ESL Supervisor, tgoforth@scsk12.org

Steven Baade, ESL Instructional Facilitator

Abasi McKinizie, Immigrant Facilitator


160 South Hollywood Street, Memphis, TN 38112 Phone 901 321 2500 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday

Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, creed, age, or disability.
Shelby County Schools is not responsible for questionable or controversial content found through links external to this site.


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