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ENLACE: Engaging Newcomers in Language and Content Education

Posted by Sarah Ottow on


ENLACE’s mission is to provide newcomers with the academic and linguistic foundation and socio-emotional supports that will allow them to transition successfully and quickly into the mainstream high school environment, on track to pursue a college or career of their choice. To reach these goals, students take a full load of content classes each day, with teachers who are receiving ongoing professional development, including weekly coaching and observation cycles, that prepares them to effectively teach language through content and meet the needs of newcomer ELLs.

Language and socio-emotional supports are abundant to foster a meaningful, language-rich learning environment. An ENLACE student’s daily schedule includes ESL, World Studies, Algebra, Foundations of Biology, and Theater. Each student also participates in a daily Academic Lab that provides differentiated support and a small-group Advisory block.As a city with a deep immigrant history, Lawrence, Massachusetts welcomes newcomer English Language Learners (ELLs) in its classrooms and provides them with a world-class education. ENLACE (Engaging Newcomers in Language and Content Education) opened within Lawrence High School’s 9th Grade Academy this fall to serve 9th grade Newcomer ELLs who have been in the country for less than two years and are brand new to the English language as well as SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education).

ENLACE believes that in order to successfully serve our students, a “two-generation approach” is necessary, which means that the school must play an active role in supporting students’ families by helping them navigate the U.S. educational system, connecting them with valuable community resources, and actively engaging them in their child’s education. To this end, ENLACE staff has conducted numerous home visits and family meetings with ENLACE families during the summer and have a full-time Student and Family Engagement Specialist who serves as a family liaison and advocate. All teachers also conduct Advisory groups and make regular phone calls to families to share updates on their child’s progress. Additionally, a "funds of knowledge" approach is enacted by capitalizing on the strengths students bring to school which include their linguistic and cultural diversity.


--Allison Balter, ENLACE Program Director,, and Sarah Ottow, ELL Confianza Coach supporting ENLACE's growth, at

Follow us on Twitter @ENLACE_Lawrence & @ELL_Confianza!

We have presented at the MATSOL Conference in May 2016 (with students!) and at the WIDA National Conference in October 2016.  Plus we will be featured on the upcoming ELL Deep Dive from Teaching Channel.


ENLACE-Confianza Related Resources

Download a one-page overview of the academy here.

See this blog to read about the coaching and evaluation approach that was co-developed to support teachers at the school -- focused on language production and students' expanding their language quantity and quality using WIDA's Features of Academic Language as an observation and reflection tool.

Download free tools to use in your practice working with ELLs.

See ENLACE student stories featured on I Learn America.

About ENLACE on YouTube.

ENLACE is also featured on the Teaching Channel's ELL Deep Dive.  See a Facebook live video classroom tours here.


Quarterly themes and text structure across the curriculum:

Language Supports abound!

The Benefits of Being Bilingual student projects:





Tracking ELL data through the WIDA Model/quarter:


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