While students in the program are not formally tested, Aeberhard said, many of them are far ahead of their peers when they return to their regular ESL class, where they are placed in various levels. The levels range from ESL-1, which is little or no English, to ESL-4, which is ninth-grade-level English, Aeberhard said. Most move up one level after the intensive course, she said.
Class size is limited to 20 students, so individual attention can be given during the four-hour block of time spent speaking English, with some writing and reading, Aeberhard said. Students from Huntington Park High are bused to Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, since their own school has no room for the program.
"We use the language instead of talking about it," said Aeberhard, who normally works as an ESL instructor and mentor teacher. Glaudini said teachers do not correct grammar when the students are speaking. "We want to give them an opportunity to feel comfortable in a new culture and have it be acceptable to them. It's an acculturation experience," she said. "The crucial part is that students feel relaxed. The fact that they're not worried makes them use the language."
The field trips give the students something to talk about and help them build vocabulary, Silvern said. Lessons are often built around a trip, she said, with students acting out a scene from what they saw, writing letters or drawing pictures about what they learned. "It's worth more than a whole civics book," Silvern said.