The 1994 revision of the Noncredit ESL Curriculum Guide (formerly the ESL Master Plan) was
supported by funds provided through the Teachers Resource Center (TRC) and carried out by
members of the noncredit ESL Curriculum Committee.
The objectives of the Master Plan Revision Committee were to:
- align the existing ESL curriculum with the ESL Model Standards for Adult Education
Programs that have been mandated by the California State Department of Education;
- incorporate new level designations into the Curriculum Guide;
- reevaluate the time necessary for students to complete each level and the program as a
- plan training sessions to orient faculty to the substantial changes that would occur in
- incorporate a literacy section which is parallel to the ESL levels.
The Noncredit ESL Curriculum Guide is the core curriculum for all ESL classes offered by the
noncredit section of the ESL Department.
The Vocational ESL Supplement (1988) lists by level employment-related competencies.
The Life Skills Supplement (1988) lists by level life skills competencies.
The support and encouragement of Nina Gibson, ESL Department Chair, and Denise Quinn, TRC
Coordinator, are gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks to Rita McCaffrey for text inputting.
The ESL Noncredit Curriculum Guide Committee:
Mary Kapp, Chair
Christine Bunn, ESL Resource Instructor
Peggy Doherty, Consultant
Nadia Scholnick, Assessment Resource Instructor
Kathleen Wong, VESL Resources
Mary Kapp, Chair
Terry Guthrie, Curriculum Committee Chair
Christine Bunn, ESL Resource Instructor
Nadia Scholnick, Assessment Resource Instructor
Kathleen Wong, VESL Resources
The Noncredit ESL Curriculum Guide describes the nature and extent
of the ESL program in Adult Education at City College of San Francisco.
The key portion of the Curriculum Guide is the specific levels component. It
divides the ESL program into ten distinct levels giving the scope and
limitation of each level and includes courses for students lacking
literacy skills. Skills and structures are limited in each level to those
to be mastered by students at
that level. Teachers and courses at higher levels depend upon the
lower levels to build the foundation for further ability in the
language. The course content and course objectives of each level must
followed faithfully if students are to benefit from the ESL program
Underlying the overall plan including the division into
program, curricular, instructional, and evaluation standards as well
proficiency levels which were developed by the California State
Education, Adult Division, as part of the ESL Model Standards for
Education Programs document. The Department of Education mandates
elements must now be incorporated into all programs which receive
These mandated standards are:
The program has an articulated sequence of ESL courses from ESL Beginning Literacy through ESL Advanced-High level. The
variables for this standard are the number of sites used for classes.
The program has a curriculum, including learning objectives, for each course in the articulated sequence. The variables for this
standard are the relative emphases on language focus and informational content.
The program uses multiple measures to assess students' language proficiencies for placement and promotion in courses at the
appropriate proficiency levels. The variables for this standard are the ability levels of students in their primary languages as well
as in English.
The curriculum is focused on meeting students' needs as determined by assessments of students' language proficiencies, goals, and
ESL instruction integrates language components--vocabulary, grammatical structures, language functions, pronunciation--in
units on topics that are important to the students.
In the design of curriculum, students' levels of literacy skills--whether in their primary languages or English--are an essential
Instructional activities integrate the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) to emphasize the holistic
nature of language.
Language tasks in the classroom consist of meaningful interchanges that enhance students' communicative competence.
Instructional activities focus on the acquisition of communication skills necessary for students to function in real-life situations.
Instruction focuses on the development of the receptive skills (listening and reading) before development of the productive skills
(speaking and writing).
A variety of grouping strategies are used in the classroom to facilitate student-centered instruction.
Instructional activities are varied in order to address the different learning styles (aural, visual, kinesthetic) of the students.
Instructional activities integrate language and culture so that students learn about the U. S. culture in terms of significant and
subtle characteristics that compare and contrast with those of their own cultures.
Learning activities develop the language necessary for students to access higher level thought processes (analysis, synthesis, and
Instructional activities require students to take active roles in the learning process, transferring critical thinking to real
problem-solving situations in their everyday lives.
Students' placements in ESL courses are determined by a variety of assessments.
Instructors monitor students' progress on a continuing basis, assessing students on attainment of objectives identified in the course
outline through use of a variety of informal tests (applied performance procedures, observation, simulations), paper and pencil
exams, and standardized tests.
Assessments for moving from one level to another measure both general language proficiency and mastery of specific
The levels of language proficiency are described concretely in terms of students' behaviors and abilities in using English and
reflect current thinking about second language acquisition. The descriptions distinguish different levels of language proficiency
based on content, language functions, and language forms as well as listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
ESL Beginning Literacy Level
Students who enter this level cannot read or write in English. They may have limited oral proficiency in English. They may or may not
read and write in their primary language, a lack that may be the result of:
Little or no formal educational experience in their native countries
- Absence of written forms of their primary languages
- Learning disabilities
Students are unable to function unassisted in any situation which requires the reading and writing of English.
Students are unable to understand conversation in English.
Students depend mainly on their primary language or some basic gestures for communication.
Students have had limited, if any, formal education in their primary language. They have virtually no skills in reading or writing
English. Occasionally, students who can print or write their names and addresses in their primary language are able to do the same in
English. If they can read and write their primary language, they probably use a non-Roman alphabet.
Students are not understood even by English speakers who are used to dealing with nonnative speakers.
ESL Beginning-Low Level
Students enter the Beginning-Low level with little or no ability to read or write in English. They are unable to function unassisted in a
situation requiring spoken English.
Students cannot function unassisted in a work situation which requires English. They can handle only very routine work situations that
do not require oral communication in English and in which assigned tasks can be easily demonstrated.
Students may demonstrate comprehension of a few isolated words and phrases, but they are unable to understand conversation.
Students depend mainly on gestures, a few English words, or their primary language for communication.
Students may have reading and writing skills in their primary language or have successfully completed instruction at the ESL
Beginning Literacy level. However, they have no skills in reading and writing English except for recognizing some letters of the
alphabet and single-digit numbers. Sometimes, they can write their names and addresses.
Students are generally not understood, even by English speakers who are used to dealing with nonnative speakers.
ESL Beginning-High Level
Students enter the Beginning-High level with limited ability to read and write in English; they function in the use of English in a very
limited way, speaking English in situations related to their immediate needs.
Students can function in a limited way to meet immediate needs at the workplace. They can handle routine work situations that involve
only the most basic oral communication skills on a nontechnical level and in which all tasks can be demonstrated.
Students are able to comprehend a range of high-frequency words used in context.
Students can communicate survival needs using very simple learned phrases and sentences.
Students are able to get limited meaning from print materials with successive rereading and checking.
Students are able to copy isolated words and phrases and generate short sentences based on previously learned material.
Students can sometimes make their basic needs understood if context strongly supports interaction and in situations with English
speakers who are used to dealing with nonnative speakers.
ESL Intermediate-Low Level
Students entering this level function satisfactorily in the use of English in basic survival situations related to their needs.
Students can handle entry-level jobs or job training situations that involve limited oral communication skills on a nontechnical level if
tasks can be clarified orally or demonstrated repeatedly when communication breaks down. They have difficulty in interpreting written
Students comprehend conversation containing some unfamiliar words when the words are used in familiar contexts. In face-to-face
conversations, they can understand basic meanings.
Students can participate in basic conversations in routine social situations. Hesitations, misunderstandings, and errors may be frequent.
Students can read simplified material on familiar subjects and can get limited meaning, with teacher assistance, from some authentic
materials dealing with everyday matters.
Students have sufficient control of the writing system to meet limited practical needs. They can write short messages or notes within the
scope of their limited language experience but with some errors in word order. They can generate sentences into short, loosely
organized paragraphs related to survival skills and personal topics but with frequent errors.
Students can generally make basic needs understood in most routine situations to English speakers who are accustomed to conversing
with nonnative speakers. English speakers not used to dealing with nonnative speakers have difficulty understanding them.
ESL Intermediate-High Level
Students enter the Intermediate-High level with enough ability in the use of English to function independently in most familiar
Students can function independently in their jobs, handling job training and work situations that involve oral communication skills on
both a nontechnical and technical level. Written directions and materials may need to be simplified or clarified orally. Students at this
level may offer help to beginning-level workers.
Students comprehend conversations containing some unfamiliar vocabulary.
Students have some ability to participate in face-to-face conversations on topics beyond their survival needs. They have the ability to
clarify meaning by asking questions or by simply rewording.
Students can read simplified materials on familiar subjects and have limited success when attempting to read some authentic materials.
Students can generate simple sequential paragraphs related to survival skills, personal topics, and nonpersonal topics with some errors.
Students can usually be understood with some effort by English speakers who are not used to dealing with nonnative speakers.
ESL Advanced-Low Level
Students enter the Advanced-Low level with the ability in the use of English to function effectively in familiar and unfamiliar social
situations and familiar work situations.
Students function effectively in familiar work situations. They can handle job training and work situations that involve oral
communication skills both among fellow employees and with the public, although pronunciation difficulties may inhibit communication
somewhat. With some clarification or assistance, these students can interpret written materials which are technical and work-related.
Students can comprehend conversations on unfamiliar topics and are beginning to understand essential points of discussions or
speeches on topics in special fields of interest.
Students can engage in extended conversation on a variety of topics but lack fluency in discussing technical subjects. Students
generally use appropriate syntax but lack thorough control of grammatical patterns.
Students can read authentic materials on everyday subjects and nontechnical prose but have difficulty reading technical materials.
Students can write routine correspondence ands about previously discussed topics, demonstrating control of basic grammatical
patterns. Errors are common when using complex structures.
Both oral and written communication of the students can be understood by English speakers not used to dealing with nonnative
speakers, but with difficulty.
ESL Advanced-High Level
Students enter the Advanced-High level with the ability in the use of English to meet most routine social and work-related demands
with confidence, though not without instances of hesitation and circumlocutions.
Students can meet most work demands with confidence. They can also function effectively in work situations that require interaction
with the public, though sometimes with hesitation and circumlocutions. They can follow written instructions in technical work manuals.
If their pronunciation inhibits fluency and communication, these students are able to adjust their language to be understood.
Students can comprehend abstract topics presented in familiar contexts. They can also understand descriptive and factual material in
Students are able to participate in casual and extended conversation. They show some hesitancy and grope for appropriate vocabulary
when speaking on technical subjects or new and unfamiliar topics.
Students can read authentic materials on abstract topics in familiar contexts as well as descriptions and narrations of factual material.
Students can write descriptions, short essays, summaries, and responses to questions on most forms and applications.
Although these students can be understood by the general English-speaking public, their errors in grammar and pronunciation
sometimes interfere with the communication process.
New textbooks and materials proliferate rapidly. It is impossible to provide a complete up-to-date list of books and materials in a
document such as this. The TRC Library is an excellent resource for teachers to examine textbooks and materials. Resource
Instructors are also available to offer advice and assistance.
Guide to the Noncredit ESL Curriculum Guide
The CCSF noncredit ESL curriculum is divided into four main levels (Advanced Low and High are not offered in the noncredit
division at this time due to the absence of need) as mandated by the ESL Model Standards for Adult Education Programs: Beginning
Low, Beginning High, Intermediate Low and Intermediate High. Each of these levels is then divided into two semester-long courses,
e.g., Beginning Low is divided into two semesters, 1 and 2.
Each level is set up with the following divisions:
Entry-Level Student Profile:
a general description of the student's proficiency in English upon entry into that level. They are taken
directly from the Model Standards in Adult Education. The Entry-Level Student Profile for Beginning High, for example, is also the
Exit-Level Student Profile for Beginning Low.
Approach: a brief description of techniques appropriate to each level.
- Topics: the subject matter through which the language will be taught.
- Culture: guidelines on both the aspects of culture to teach and the approaches to use in teaching them.
- Language Functions: description of the use or purpose served by particular language expressions (requesting or comparing, for
- Language Skills: description of the capabilities students should have developed in their use of the four major language skills
(listening, speaking, reading and writing) on exit.
- Language Forms: sentence types, verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions.
- Evaluation: a description of the testing policy of the noncredit ESL program.
The first time an objective appears in the Evaluation: a description
testing policy of the noncredit ESL program. curriculum, it is
preceded by an
When an objective appears again, in the second semester of a main
Beginning Low 2, it is preceded by a C. This time, present the
more depth, with a broader range of applications and contexts than in
In subsequent semesters, an objective is considered a review item and
preceded by an R. It receives more cursory presentation than
and often precedes the introduction of a new and related objective.