English Language Learners

Part of what makes Cotter Schools an international learning community are the students who travel from all over the world to become Ramblers! Currently, we have students from 14 different countries. As a result, students have a wide variety of native languages, but all students receive instruction in English while attending Cotter Schools.

Our ESL (English as a Second Language) program allows for our teachers to instruct the students, regardless of their native language, by speaking to them and teaching them in English. Students are tested (using the WIDA model) when they arrive at Cotter, and based on their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills are placed in an ESL or grade-level English class. We offer ESL 1, II, III and Transitional English classes. Students in these classes will receive at least one (1) period per day of instruction in the English language. Students who are proficient or near proficiency will be placed in grade-level appropriate English classes.

Students who may need additional language development may be assigned to the language lab before school. Additionally, students who need general academic help or additional assistance while navigating high school in a non-native language can access the resources in the Learning Center as well.

Our goal is to support all students and help all students reach their potential. We consider all students to be special and essential in making Cotter Schools a wonderful place to learn and grow.

ESL Courses

ESL Program Information

English as a Second Language Courses

Program Coordinator:
Mrs. Ulrike Schorn-Hoffert

Cotter High School offers several levels of ESL (English as a Second Language) to meet the different needs of English Language Learners (ELLs). Skills in the areas of reading and writing, listening and speaking are taught and practiced through thematic, content-based units along with explicit grammar instruction. Various aspects of the target culture will be an integral part of all course units. The Cotter ESL program aims to provide students with level-specific English language tools necessary for academic success while also reinforcing their social and conversational language proficiency. Independent reading assignments are part of each ESL course to promote successful reading strategies and ongoing vocabulary building. Students are expected to complete independent reading work and will fill out a variety of reading logs or book reports.

All new ELLs will be assessed at the beginning of the school year in the areas of reading, writing and oral language to determine the best placement for each student. Student placement throughout the school year is based on this initial assessment and ongoing teacher evaluation. ESL credits earned at Cotter will be applied towards English credits for graduation.


ESL I (High beginning)

(Grades 9-12) 2.0 credits

All four areas of language learning (reading, writing, listening, speaking) are addressed with special emphasis on developing confidence in speaking and comprehension skills of spoken and written material. Specific sessions address vocabulary enrichment using the VOCABULARY POWER series. Reading selections at this level include a variety of adapted fiction and non-fiction materials, especially tales and simple legends.


ESL II (Low intermediate)

(Grades 9-12) 1.0 credit

ESL II students meet for one period each day and will continue to focus on vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension strategies along with written work that is based on thematic units using both fiction and non-fiction materials. Academic language will be used increasingly to facilitate moving into ESL III or Transitional English the following year depending on student skills. We will continue specific vocabulary building lessons and activities based on the VOCABULARY POWER series.


ESL III (high intermediate/ low advanced)

(Grades 9-12) 1.0 credit

At this level of learning English, students are expected to show strong communication skills in spoken and written English. The course content alternates advanced grammar and vocabulary lessons with thematic units using a variety of authentic non-fiction texts as well as short selections of fiction. Students will also be introduced to some basic literary terms and are encouraged to use critical thinking strategies as they respond to a variety of themes and stories. Students will continue their English studies the following year in the Transitional English Course or regular English class depending on academic readiness.

Transitional English

Transitional English

(Grades 9-12) Year 1.0 Credit

This course provides transition for those students moving from the English as Second Language program to the grade level English classes. English for international students focuses specifically on addressing the unique writing needs and developing the composition skills of students for whom English is not their native language. In addition, this course strengthens the necessary reading comprehension skills and understanding of literary terms required in grade level English classes. Students are placed in transitional English based on their placement testing score and on teacher approval.