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English as a Second Language

We understand that our students arrive with differing levels of English, so we ensure that our language support is tailored to every student. From presenting at national competitions to acting and singing in front of an audience, our students are able to practice their linguistic skills throughout their daily school life:

  • Improve your pronuniciation skills in our Chorus elective
  • Improve your English fluency in Actors Studio
  • Perform live at CATS Cafe, our monthly music and poetry session
  • Compete alongside other American schools at DECA competitions
  • DECA Club at Bentley University
  • Debate and negotiate at Model United Nations competitions
  • Improve your public speaking as part of Student Government
  • Act in front of a live audience in our theater productions
  • Develop your presentation skills at Youth CITIES L3 Innovation Challenge
  • The L3 Innovation Challenge - a biomedical research project for high school students

Our ESL Department at CATS Academy consists of 10 highly qualified professionals who are experienced in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to international students. All ESL teachers strive to provide CATS Academy students with English language skills they need to succeed academically in an American high school as well as prepare students for further successful studies in US colleges.

ESL electives

ESL Level 2

You will already have basic knowledge of the English Language and plan to take the TOEFL examination in order to study in a US college. Using the latest technology and textbooks, you will focus on work in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, reading and listening comprehension, writing, and speaking. The course provides you with an introduction to American idiomatic expressions and helps with understanding spelling rules. Prerequisites: Test results for ESL Level 2 using a secure placement test administered by CATS Academy Boston. ESL

ESL Level 3

You will be at an intermediate comprehension level of English and plan to attend an English speaking university or college. The course includes extended work on academic English and TOEFL vocabulary, pronunciation skills, conversational English, and the use of idiomatic expressions. There is required homework in reading and writing and you will complete tests in class in preparation for the TOEFL examination. You will use the online textbook and online applications. Prerequisites: Successful completion of ESL Level 2 or test results for ESL Level 3 using a secure placement test administered by CATS Academy Boston.

ESL Level 4

You will be at a high intermediate comprehension level of English and plan to attend an English speaking university or college. ESL 4 aims to develop and master your advanced skills in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Throughout the course, you will acquire sophisticated academic English vocabulary and apply critical thinking and writing skills to a variety of academic assignments. You will use the online textbook and online applications. Prerequisites: Successful completion of ESL Level 3 or test results for ESL Level 4 using a secure placement test administered by CATS Academy Boston.

ESL Level 5

You will be at an advanced comprehension level of English and plan to attend an English speaking university or college. ESL 5 aims to develop and master your advanced skills in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Throughout the course, you will acquire sophisticated academic vocabulary and apply critical thinking and writing skills to a variety of academic assignments. You will use the online textbook and online applications. Prerequisites: Successful completion of ESL Level 4 or test results for ESL Level 5 using a secure placement test administered by CATS Academy Boston.

CATS Extra: Communication

This course helps you develop language critical thinking and writing skills. You will develop your English language ability in order to speak, listen, read, write and learn grammar, which will set you up for success in future mainstream courses. Course content includes a range of activities that helps with communication in academic and social situations. Activities include presentations and speeches, persuasive speaking and writing, storytelling, role-plays, and the study of history and culture.

CATS Extra: Academic ESL

CATS Extra Academic ESL includes instruction and practice in reading, writing, grammar review, academic vocabulary, and idioms. You will develop your language skills by reading comprehension and approach strategies to help with spelling, vocabulary expansion, sentence structure and paragraphing, and using appropriate grammar in real life contexts. Additionally, the course will familiarize you with the academic writing process.

CATS Extra: Literature 101

If you have a low level of English, CATS Extra Literature 101 will provide an introduction to academic reading and elements of literary analysis. Reading assignments focus on language comprehension and analysis of the text. The literary component of the class provides you with the required terminology and theory in order to examine texts for major themes and to identify plot structure. You will learn the meaning of literary terms, such as,  theme, topic, characters, dialogue, plot, and setting; and apply your knowledge practically in class and at home. You also learn to recognise the importance of identifying and understanding underlying meanings within a text.

CATS Extra: Social Science

In CATS Extra Social Science you will learn about communities around the world. With an emphasis on American History, you study native Americans and immigration. The course focuses on developing strong reading and note-taking skills, and you will be asked to undertake research, write reports, and give oral presentations.

CATS Extra: Integrated Science

In CATS Extra Integrated Science you will learn how to think, investigate, and communicate as scientists. The goal is to be able to read, write, and speak well about science. To accomplish this, you read and discuss ideas from the textbook and also look at, listen to, and study the world around you. You will ask questions about what you see and hear, make guesses about the answers to these questions, and design experiments to test your hypotheses. Finally, you share and communicate the results of your experiments with your fellow scientists through oral presentations and in writing.

My English was far from being perfect when I came here, it has really improved thanks to CATS.

Faya Movchan
The Visting Committee report commends the school for the following:
The ESL program is divided up into six different levels to assist students to find the greatest success possible by meeting their needs in each academic level
The Visiting Committee was comprised of seven educators from other independent schools accredited by NEASC.

Faculty

Lucy LaValle
ESL Department Chair
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Lucy LaValle

ESL Department Chair

MA, English & Spanish, Moscow State Linguistic University.

Prior to joining CATS, Lucy LaVallee worked in public and private schools, teaching intensive English language programs to school students and business executives. In addition to teaching, Lucy worked as an interpreter at various international shows, translating and interpreting for numerous businesses and providing voice-over translation of CNN news. Lucy has been with CATS Academy Boston since day one. She started on the English as a Second Language program and ran the first High School Preparation Program at CATS. Lucy got her MA in English and Spanish from the Moscow State Linguistic University; she received a Fulbright-Hays award (US Department of Education) and studied linguistics at the Moscow State University (MGU).

Michael Crandall
ESL Lead Teacher
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Michael Crandall

ESL Lead Teacher

BA, Classics, UMass, Amherst
Mdiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
MEd, ESL, Boston State College UMass, Amherst.

Prior to CATS, Michael taught three levels of ESL to middle and upper school students at The Stony Brook School, an international boarding and day school on Long Island. He was also faculty adviser for the international club, assisted the admissions office in interviewing prospective international students, coached sailing and served as a dorm parent. Michael received a BA in Classics from the University of Massachusetts, an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and an MEd in ESL from Boston State College UMass, Amherst.

Alexandra Bicks
ESL Teacher
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Alexandra Bicks

ESL Teacher

BA, English, Yale
MA English from Boston College 

Alexandra Bicks is excited to begin her second year at CATS Academy Boston. She specializes in teaching upper-level ESL, with a focus on writing and advanced vocabulary. Prior to working at CATS Alexandra taught writing to international students at Pine Manor College in nearby Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Alexandra received her BA in English from Yale and her MA in English from Boston College.  

Ryan Daniels
ESL Teacher
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Ryan Daniels

ESL Teacher

BA, History, Eastern Nazarene College
EdM, Eastern Nazarene College

Before his arrival at CATS Academy, Ryan worked at Northeastern University's Global Pathways Program as an ESL instructor. He was responsible for helping to prepare international students for studying subjects at collegiate level. He has also held ESL teaching positions in Chinese universities. Ryan has 15 years of ESL experience in higher educational settings. Ryan has received his BA in History and his EdM from Eastern Nazarene College.

Carissa Leung
ESL Teacher
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Carissa Leung

ESL Teacher

BA, French & Francophone Studies, UMass, Amherst
MA, Education Leadership, Northeastern University

Carissa Leung teaches upper-level ESL and comes to CATS having worked with international students in various capacities; including high school and college programs. Carissa worked as a logistics manager in summer schools and as an ESL teacher at The Winchendon School, Massachusetts. She also brings experience from Northeastern University’s Global Pathways Program as a student life coordinator for international students. Carissa received her Bachelor's Degree in French and Francophone Studies with a minor in Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her Master’s Degree in Education Leadership at Northeastern University. 

Glen Maheu
ESL Teacher
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Glen Maheu

ESL Teacher

BA, International Affairs & French, University of Maine.

Glenn Maheu is an ESL Teacher. After graduating from the University of Maine, Orono with a BA in International Affairs and French, Glenn served for 10 years in the Army; during his service he worked as a French, Russian, and Korean language debriefer. Glenn has also spent 10 years working within the financial services industry until he transitioned from business to education with a recent certification from Cambridge University’s CELTA program to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). In his free time, Glenn enjoys serving in a local food pantry and teaching children in his church.

Margaret McCulloch
ESL Teacher
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Margaret McCulloch

ESL Teacher

BA, English Literature & Communications, Tulane University
MA, Teaching English as a Second Language & Applied Linguistics, Iowa State University

Meg has been teaching English as a second or foreign language to students of all ages for eight years. After teaching for two years in South Korea she discovered a passion for education and returned to the US to study for a Master’s degree. She has also taught in China, Singapore and the United States. Meg enjoys helping her students achieve their language goals and making language learning fun and engaging.

Joseph McFarland
ESL Teacher
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Joseph McFarland

ESL Teacher

BA, English, UMass Amherst. EdM, Secondary Education, Boston University

Joe McFarland works in the ESL department, developing reading, writing and TOEFL skills; including presentation skills and pronunciation practice. Prior to joining CATS Academy, Joe worked for five years overseas, teaching at language schools in Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. He taught for two years at private schools in Connecticut and for 14 years at public high schools in Massachusetts (teaching English literature, writing courses and ELL courses). His experience has included; running language departments and serving as a liaison for teacher exchange with China. Joe received his BA in English from UMass Amherst and his EdM in Secondary Education from Boston University.

Jeffrey Schenning
ESL Teacher
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Jeffrey Schenning

ESL Teacher

BA, English, Dickinson College
MA in Secondary Education, Towson University

Jeffrey Schenning is an ESL 5 teacher, teaching academic language and writing skills and helping to prepare international students for an English collegiate environment. Prior to joining CATS Academy, Jeff taught ESL and Literature courses at Pagoda Academy in Seoul, South Korea. He has also taught English in public schools, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Jeff received his BA in English from Dickinson College and his MA in Secondary Education from Towson University.

Beth Purcell
ESL Teacher
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Beth Purcell

ESL Teacher

BA, English, George Washington University
MAT, Secondary Ed, English, Brandeis University

Beth teaches CATS Extra (Communication & Reading/Writing) and ESL Level 3, working with students on the fundamentals of expression in English. Prior to CATS, she taught ESL to high school and college-age students as well as adults at Pine Manor College, English Language Center’s Junior Program, Access to Language Studies summer program, Watertown’s Project Literacy and other institutes. She has taught English at Newton and Lexington high schools and Hebrew School at several of the area’s synagogues. Previously, she worked in Communications, programming and promoting arts events, and editing a newsletter. In her spare time, she sings as a cantor at Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose and as an American Songbook entertainer.