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Foundations for College-Level Reading & Writing

Kingsborough Community College
The City University of New York


ESL BW 2: Foundations for College-Level Reading & Writing for English as a Second Language Students, Part 2 - 0 credits, 4 hours

Course Coordinator: Dr. Martha Cummings

Course Description: ESL BW 2 is the second of a two-semester course sequence for English as a Second Language students. ESL BW 1 is the first course of the sequence. This high-intermediate/advanced class is a portfolio-based course in which students are assigned reading and writing assignments of various genres and lengths. The course is designed to help students develop the fluency, focus, analytical skills needed to become successful college writers and to pass the ELA Regents and college placement exams.

College Now Description: A continuation of ESL BW1, this course focuses on sharpening the reading, writing and critical thinking skills of ESL students who are at or above the intermediate level of developmental work. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to draft and revise coherent, well-developed and well-organized essays for class assignments, Regents and university entrance exams.

Explanation: Kingsborough's College Now Program is part of a CUNY College Now Initiative. One of the missions of this Initiative is to help high school students become competent readers and writers so that they can perform well on ELA Regents and college placement exams, such as the CUNY ACT Reading and Writing Assessments.

The College Now ESL program, modeled after Kingsborough's ESL Program, is a content-based, whole-language integrated reading and writing program. The whole-language fluency-first approach was first introduced at City College (CUNY) and has been successfully replicated with ESL and developmental English students at Kingsborough Community College. The content-based and collaborative aspects of the program, which include forging a strong, dynamic learning community among students in each section, are based on Kingsborough's Intensive ESL Program, a collaborative and interdisciplinary content-based program.

The content-based whole-language approach requires that students do extensive reading and writing in various genres in a particular content area of the instructor's choosing. Readings for the course include at least one full-length work, and articles, essays, poems, etc. from the Internet, Newsweek, or other sources. Students keep journals about their reading, and they keep writing journals as well. Students' written work includes the writing of a "book" or term writing project that may be autobiographical or based on the thematic content of the course. Students are required to read approximately 10 pages per day and to write approximately 500 words per week, including revisions.

Results of Kingsborough's Intensive ESL Program reveal that through extensive reading and writing, students improve their academic reading fluency and skills. They also gain facility in academic writing, and are better able to manipulate the English language to express their ideas, to explore their own thoughts and feelings, to write reflectively, to develop ideas, to analyze and explain text, to provide support for their points of view, to make relevant comparisons, and to explain causes and effects.

Course Objectives: Tasks and objectives are similar in both parts of the ESL course sequence. Reading material, however, is aimed at a lower level in the first part of the course. In ESL BW 2, full-length books would be less difficult in regard to vocabulary, syntax, and complexity of concepts and information. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Read and respond to readings of various lengths, both fiction and non-fiction:
         Answer questions on readings in a clear, well-focused manner;
         Paraphrase and summarize;
         Analyze text;
         Respond critically to text.
  2. Write fluent, clear, coherent, well-developed and well-organized essays of varying lengths.
  3. Support ideas with explanation, example and reference to text.
  4. Revise written work with suggestions from peers, teachers, and students' own ideas. Revision involves reworking and rethinking the essays, moving pieces around, rewriting and expanding the material.
  5. Edit written work with assistance from peers with a fair degree of accuracy. Editing for surface mechanics such as grammar, spelling and punctuation should be done after the content of the essay has been organized and developed.
  6. Investigate course topics on the Internet and incorporate research material into student writings.

Methods of Teaching: A whole-language, fluency-first approach in reading and writing that is student-centered rather than teacher-directed is emphasized. That is, students take responsibility for doing much of their work collaboratively in a small-group setting, with the teacher assuming the role of facilitator. Students write daily, read their writing to each other, offer suggestions to other group members, and revise written work. Activities such as brainstorming, clustering and free-writing are emphasized. Point-of-view, interview, and other writing formats are explored. Editing for correctness/mechanics should be among the final steps in the writing process. Students respond to readings in a variety of ways including copying text, reacting/responding, paraphrasing, summarizing, analyzing, explaining, comparing/contrasting, etc. in double entry and other journal formats. Journals are discussed, (often in groups) and problems with comprehension and vocabulary are addressed in these groups. In ESL BW 2 there is also a need for conversation, discussion, and readings which focus on cultural experiences in the United States and other countries.

Assignments: There are daily reading/writing assignments that are discussed in class, often in small-group situations. Internet research assignments are also given.

Method of Evaluation: A modified version of Kingsborough's portfolio assessment system, which is used to evaluate students in ESL and developmental English courses, will be used. Portfolios will include two revised essays with all drafts and a final in-class essay.

Required Reading: Readings consist of essays, magazine articles, and fiction/non-fiction books of varying lengths.

Magazine: Newsweek

Books: Instructors choose from the list of recommended books. Books are often suggested and added to the list. Books preceded by an asterisk are those that are recommended for ESL BW 2.

*Axline, Virginia M. Dibs In Search of Self. Ballantine Books, 1964.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. Random House, 1991.
Columbo, Gary. Rereading America. St. Martin's Press, 1989.
Danticat, E. Breath, Eyes, Memory. Soho Press, 1994.
Divakaruni, Chitra B. Multitude. McGraw Hill, 1993.
Dorris, Michael. The Broken Cord. Harper Perennial, 1989.
*Grisham, John. The Firm. Dell Publishing, 1992.
*Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and The Sea. Macmillian Publishing Company: New York, 1987.
*Kirszner, Laurie and Stephen Mandell. Common Ground: Reading and Writing about America's Cultures. St. Martin's Press, 1993.
*Kunz, Linda A. 26 Steps - Controlled Composition for Intermediate and Advanced Language Development. New Jersey Prentice Hall Regents, 1988.
Letkowitz, N. From Process to Product Beginning/Intermediate Writing Skills for Students Of ESL. Prentice Hall Regents, 1987.
*MacGowan-Gilhooly, Adele. Achieving Fluency in English. Kendell-Hunt, 1996.
MacGowan-Gilhooly, Adele. Achieving Clarity in English. Kendell-Hunt, 2001.
McKay, S. and Petitt, D. At the Door: Selected Literature for ESL Students. Prentice Hall Regents, 1984.
Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. Dell, 1976.
Reid, Joy M. The Process of Paragraph Writing (2nd edition). Prentice Hall Regents, 1994.
*Steinbeck, John. The Pearl. Viking Penguin, 1993.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Ballantine Books, 1989.
*Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers. Persea Books, 1980.

Teacher Resource Materials:

Culture Watch Book & Video. Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. ISBN 0135039886.
Endy, Maxine (ESL CN Faculty Member). A Living Resource Integrating the Internet in the College Now ESL Curriculum. January 2001.
Health Watch Book & Video. Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. ISBN 0135017017.
Newsweek Website:
New York Times Website:
Internet availability in computer classrooms.