Imagine one of the largest school districts in the United States. Now imagine one of that district's larger high schools with a sizeable population of non-English-speaking students. Finally, imagine a state-mandated English proficiency standard that students must meet before they are allowed to graduate. Now you have a slight concept of the everyday world of Anna McDaniel, teacher and world languages coordinator at Bryan Adams High School in the Dallas (Texas) Independent School District. "We have a very active English as a second language (ESL) program here," said McDaniel. "With five full-time teachers, three aides, and nearly 200 students, we account for approximately 10 percent of the total student body. Most of our ESL students come to us with no English language skills whatsoever. Our goal is to provide the environment, tools, and opportunity that will allow them to pass the state-mandated TASS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) exam and graduate from high school." With a diversity of native tongues, a variety of skill levels, and limited staff, one-on-one instruction simply wasn't feasible. McDaniel and her team tried a number of options to give students the maximum benefit. "We looked into new texts and tried bits and pieces of a number of ESL solutions, but were rapidly becoming paper pushers rather than teachers," she said. "Even the computer-based programs we looked at assumed that the students already knew how to read, and that approach caused problems. We needed something that was self-paced, motivational, and easily adaptable to each student's individual needs." Thanks to the efforts of McDaniel's son, the school received from i2 Corporation 23 laptop computers that allowed the program to evaluate a number of technology-based ESL solutions. "I tried a wide variety of ESL computer-based programs, but I wasn't satisfied with the total solution offered by any of them," said McDaniel. "I was particularly displeased with the lack of success and low level of accuracy with which my students were learning the English language. I now had computers, knew students were responsive to using computers, and wanted a program that would allow students to work at their own knowledge levels, at their own speed, and with their preferred learning methods." In the search for an acceptable computer-based ESL solution, Mrs. McDaniel and her co-teacher, Gracie Lopez were introduced to ELLIS. "After seeing ELLIS in a demo we were very impressed," said McDaniel. "We both wanted the product. It provided all the individualized instruction features that we so desperately needed. The real challenge then was to convince the district of the same. Surprisingly, since we already had the laptops, the district was very willing to set us up as a pilot program for ELLIS." ELLIS (English Language Learning and Instruction System) is an interactive multimedia environment for teaching English as a second or foreign language. Instead of making students passive listeners and viewers, ELLIS presents instruction through multi media and use every research-validated means possible. ELLIS learners don't just listen; they read, speak, write, practice vocabulary and grammar, learn culture, practice, test, and review. The end result is a more confident, motivated, and satisfied learner. "I've been enthusiastic about ELLIS from day one," said McDaniel, "and now the students are feeling the same. The program is easy to use, and it creates a fun environment. Even students who had not been attending school started to come back. Attendance is up because they have a lot more fun in the classroom. And because it is very self-contained, we as teachers can spend more quality time one-on-one with the students who need more attention." The ELLIS curriculum combines graphics, fullmotion video, digitized sound and voice recording, animation, and text in a comprehensive user-friendly environment. All of these elements come together to create an environment that accelerates and enhances learning. Its proven instructional methods include interactive role-play, context-sensitive translation, grammar and vocabulary, auditory and visual pronunciation tools, student voice recording and comparison, mastery tests, and skills tracking. With more than 2000 hours of available instruction (beginning to advanced learners) and native language support for more than 40 languages, ELLIS provides a comprehensive, self-paced, and fully adaptable ESL solution for programs like that at Bryan Adams High School. "The single most effective tool in ELLIS is the voice recording feature," said McDaniel. "My 3 | © Copyright 2002. English Language Learning & Instruction System. All Rights Reserved. students absolutely love hearing the correct English pronunciation and then repeating it back into the microphone. It not only creates a fun and interactive environment, but also helps them learn at a faster rate with more language accuracy." ESL students now move through the school's three-tiered program more quickly and are well prepared for their TASS exam. "The individual successes in our ESL program are too many to mention," said McDaniel. "Our TASS scores have increased, attendance has gone up, and a number of students have moved on to college. In fact one of our ex-students is now working on a law degree at Texas Woman's University and several others have completed college and are now teachers. I'm really proud of our kids. Thanks to ELLIS, our ESL program is running at full steam. My staff and I are back to doing what we love-teaching-and the students are reaping the benefits. And that's what it's all about."