The standard Letters, Sounds and Words™ program is available in schools for children in Senior Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2.

Children new to learning English beyond Grade 2 can also benefit from this program. An adaptation of the standard Letters, Sounds and Words program is available for the beginning English Language Learner (ELL) in Grades 3 and 4.

Strong Start® initially received some requests from English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to use this program with older ESL children. In response to these requests, Strong Start conducted a two year pilot of a program variation which was age appropriate for ESL children in grades 3 and 4. This pilot provided an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to implement this program for these learners.

From the pilot program and working with skilled ESL teachers, we learned that stage 1 ELL children in grades 3 and 4 were the ideal candidates for this program.

The purpose of putting English Language Learners in the program was and continues to be – to help children identify the names of the letters, the sounds that letters make, to recognize a list of sight words and to develop the skill of building words with the side benefits of vocabulary building.

For this program, the direct involvement of the ESL teacher is essential to the success of these learners. It is the ESL teacher who selects the beginner English Language Learners in grades 3 and 4, who have the readiness skills to participate in this adapted version of the Letters, Sounds and Words program.

This program is not intended to replace the regular school-based ESL support. It is a supplemental, prescriptive program that allows the ELL more opportunity to receive one-on-one coaching by a volunteer and to develop basic English literacy skill development.

Strong Start provides training for the ESL teacher as well as additional support materials for the ESL teacher and Volunteer Coach.