SJA Welcoming Students from Seven Countries For Annual Summer ESL Program


St. Johnsbury Academy’s Robero Abele, English as a Second Language chair.

St. Johnsbury Academy will welcome 32 young people from seven countries for the school's annual English as a Second Language (ESL) summer program, which will begin Monday, July 16, and continue through Aug. 23.

This year's program includes students from China, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Germany, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.There are 19 boys and 13 girls participating. The program is designed to help participants immerse themselves in learning the English language and receive an introduction to life in America.

"One of the program's goals is to provide international students a full six weeks of immersion in English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills that they will need in American classrooms," said Roberto Abele, the Academy's English as a Second Language chair. A majority of the students enrolled in the program are entering the Academy as students for the upcoming school year.

"Another key benefit is the exposure the students receive to life in America and life in rural Vermont, as opposed to the large cities where many of these students are from," Abele explained, calling the program "an excellent introduction to life at the Academy."

A typical program day begins with six hours of in-classroom English and Math instruction. After lunch, the students devote an hour to working on group projects, reaching out to the local community to assist with special events and preparing for English language exams. The remainder of the day includes a wide range of group activities designed as opportunities for the students to use their English skills in settings that are authentic and help familiarize them with both Vermont and American culture.

Many activities, ranging from camping to visits to local museums and attractions, are organized so that student groups include a variety of nationalities with English being the only common language.

Activities include a three-day trip to Boston, swimming at local ponds and lakes, hikes, camping, visits to the Fairbanks and Hood Museums, Billings Farm, and the Vermont Statehouse. All ESL Summer School participants stay with local families throughout the session.

"The time spent living with an American family is one of the most important parts of the program," Abele stressed. "We can teach English grammar and pronunciation in the classroom, but staying with families offers the opportunity to speak English in authentic situations and see American life in action."

The program provides "a unique learning opportunity not only for the students, but for the teachers and host families as well," he added. "Many of these experiences have led to lasting friendships."

In addition to Abele, the ESL Summer Program staff includes Academy alumnus Paul Scavitto, Ryan Daly, Laura Holt, Academy graduates Sam Jones and Erin Johnson.

Additional information about the Academy's ESL Summer Program can be found at


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