At St. Michaels University School, we believe that language should not be a barrier to any student who wants an outstanding education and the skills to excel at any university in the world. With that goal in mind, we offer a two-year English Language Learning (ELL) boarding program, starting in Grade 9.


To be successful academically, students need to learn a more sophisticated level of English than the level they need for social interaction. There is an entire body of vocabulary and usage specific to subject areas such as social studies, science, and math that makes learning academic English a complex process. Research shows that it takes five to seven years of intensive English study to master academic English, compared to one to two years for social language learning.

Success in academic English requires the following skills:

  • using subject vocabulary appropriately;
  • reading textbook content with understanding;
  • being able to describe, classify, evaluate, and sequence information;
  • writing in a clear and well-organized way;
  • understanding how to make choices or determine the principles of comparing and contrasting, or cause and effect; and
  • being able to go beyond literal comprehension.

Our ELL Approach

Our approach in teaching these skills is to immerse English language learners with non-ELL students in subjects such as math, art, music and athletics, while providing a separate, sheltered environment for learning English and social studies. The ELL classroom is staffed by specialist teachers who are dedicated to the success of their students, providing strong support in the classroom as well as one-on-one attention at lunch and after school. Our proven curriculum focuses not only on academic English, but on the cultural awareness and learning strategies students will need to develop their full potential.

By Grade 11, ELL students are fully integrated with their peers. Those who need additional help beyond the ELL program can take a transitional English class in Grade 11 and there is also an intensive writing class for all non-English speakers.