An Opportunity for Extensive English Development
Please note that the ESL+ Intensive has been cancelled for 2022. We regret the inconvenience.
Nationally recognized as one of the top boarding schools in the United States, Mercersburg Academy is a private college preparatory independent school with a reputation for excellence that attracts young people in grades 9-12 from dozens of states and countries each school year. During the summer, extensive English development and rewarding cultural immersion experiences draw students who are committed to rigorous academic effort.
This intense and creative program is open to international students who possess a working knowledge of the English language and are able to communicate on at least basic verbal and written levels. It features a comprehensive and stimulating curriculum designed to improve communication skills in English speaking, listening, writing, and reading.
Mercersburg has hosted students from more than a dozen countries in recent summers, including Azerbaijan, China, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.
Grades 7-10, coed
Meet the Director
After graduating from Shepherd University in 2014, Jennifer received her TEFL certification in 2015 and has been teaching ever since. She has taught ESL in Costa Rica and the United States, including as a volunteer in her spare time.
Currently, Jennifer is working for E.P.I.C.—the Eastern Panhandle regional branch of the West Virginia Department of Adult Education—as its ESOL adult education instructor in Berkeley County, West Virginia. Since she became the program’s lead instructor in 2018, it has grown from a part-time class of three students to a full-time program with 50+ participants. Jennifer has been recognized by WVAdultEd for exceeding performance measures every year, including during the 2020 pandemic as a fully virtual program. She currently lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, with her seven beautiful house plants.
In the classroom, ESL+ students are divided by skill level, regardless of age. All students are evaluated when they arrive and placed into classes based on core English competencies. This proven method for learning introduces students to environments where they are properly challenged, paced, and supported.
While courses are taught according to ability to digest information and to apply acquired knowledge, the use of progressive teaching principles allows students who qualify to easily move up through levels of study as they master essential skills.
- Competitive admission and limited enrollment in each grade level and nationality
- Diagnostic testing and placement in appropriate skill level
- Student-to-faculty ratio of 5 to 1
- Multiple levels of study in English speaking, listening, writing, and reading
- Test preparation courses
- Daily help sessions and supervised evening study hall
- Structured activities beyond the classroom
- Visits to college and university campuses
An ESL Boarding School Experience
More than 70 percent of ESL+ camp participants typically plan to attend a U.S. boarding school. As such, Mercersburg Summer Programs creates an experience and schedule designed to mimic boarding school life: part academics and part co-curricular/extracurricular activities.
Curriculum and Primary Program Areas
The ESL+ program concentrates on improving English skills in speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Each course is specifically designed to allow students to learn these skills through different techniques, subjects, and interactive environments. Among many other things, all students will be asked to attend vocabulary and listening labs, create culminating class projects or presentations, and prepare for the TOEFL test. Courses change from year to year for a number of reasons, including keeping the subject matter fresh for teachers and to the benefit of the students.
Concentrations in reading comprehension, writing, grammar, and conversation.
Explores the important people, events, and themes that have shaped the country’s heritage and geography.
Encompasses many aspects of life in the United States, including the development of the country’s traditions and customs.
A creative yet demanding approach engages students with formal and conversational speaking and listening skills.
Concentration in library research, time management, test preparation, note taking strategies, organizing and handling homework loads, and navigating the Internet for research purposes.
A significant amount of time is devoted to test preparation exercises and strategies for the TOEFL exam. Each participant will also take a TOEFL practice test during the final week of the program.
Beyond the Classroom
The Mercersburg ESL+ experience is about much more than just the classroom. Students studying at Mercersburg Academy in the summer enjoy a variety of activities that lead to a meaningful immersion experience. Academic studies are paired with exciting cultural trips and opportunities to make friends with other students through social and athletic activities.
Shopping at local malls and outlet centers as well as trips to amusement parks, performances, cinemas, and professional sporting events. ESL+ utilizes Mercersburg’s extensive athletic facilities to play American and international sports such as basketball, flag football, soccer, tennis, and squash. In addition, afternoon electives can include dance, music and visual arts, yoga and crafts.
Students live on campus in one of Mercersburg’s air-conditioned dormitories, typically with a roommate. Members of the ESL+ staff live in the dormitories with the students. Students are allowed to use cell phones during breaks and in the dorms, but phones are not allowed in the classrooms.
Dorm living features include:
- Floors divided by gender
- Spacious, air-conditioned rooms, carpeted hallways, and tiled bathrooms with private shower areas
- Telephone and data connections in each room
- Laundry facilities on each floor
- Common rooms with kitchen areas and TVs
- 24-hour dormitory supervision by ESL+ staff members
Day trips on the weekend to major U.S. cities can include such destinations as Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Weekday trips to points of local and regional interest are used to extend the learning experience and to assist students in their introduction to U.S. culture and schooling.
Participants will have the option to travel to at least one American university. ESL+ students have the opportunity to take tours, attend informational sessions, and gather materials from the school.
Mercersburg is home to some of the finest teachers in the country, and the ESL+ staff reflect that excellence. Our experienced staff understand boarding school life and assist students with each endeavor and challenge. The faculty is diverse, with extensive language and multicultural teaching experience. Qualified instructors guide each class, with teaching assistants providing extra support and supervision beyond the classroom.
Safety is our priority at all times. The Mercersburg campus is patrolled 24 hours a day by campus safety personnel, access to dormitories is limited to summer participants, and all summer staff are required to receive full state and federal clearances as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Not only are our staff certified in CPR/AED, many also have first aid training.
Our on-campus health and wellness center is managed by a team of registered nurses, and we work closely with a local family practice for students who may need additional care. A full-time health service assistant is also available for all internal programs. Although rarely needed, the campus is only 30 minutes from three hospitals.