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Successful Strategies for English Learners

Successful Strategies for English Learners

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Published by: ld71 on Jun 02, 2008
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06/16/2009

 
Successf
l1
Strategies
for
English
LanLguage
Lea'rners
Tracy
Gray
andSteve
Fleischman
ut
through
the
fog
of
competing
claims
made
by
researchers
and
policymakers
gut
effective
approaches
for
mee~ting
the needs
of
English
language
learners
(ELLs)
and
one
factremains:Educators
daily
face
the
challenge
of
teaching
thislarge
andgrowing
student
population.
More
immigrants arrived
in
the
United
States
during
the
1990s
than
during
any
other
decade
on
record.
This
fall,
in
response
to
this
trend
toward
linguistic
and
cultural
diversity,
the NewYork
City
school district
created
an
office
to
trans-
late
information
for parents
into
eightlanguages.
The
Los
Angeles
Unified
School Districtalready
spends
more
than
$6 million yearly
to
translateitsmaterials (Zehr, 2004).Today,
students
in
our
schools speak
more
than
450
languages (Kindler,2002).
About
12
percent
of
all
preK-12
students
are considered
English
language learners.
Projectionsindicate
that
by 2015,
morethan
50
percent
of
all
students in K-12 public
schoolsacross
the
United
States
will
not
speak
English
as
their
first language (Pearlman,2002).
The accountability
requirements
of
the
No
Child
Left
Behind Act
of
2001
add
a
new
dimension
to
this challenge
because
ELLs
are
included
in
the
law'stesting requirements.Their
test
scores
may
be factored
into
the
determination
ofwhether
a
school
is
making
adequate
yearly
progress
(AYP).
Althoughideology
often trumpsevidence
in
this
area,
amid
the
conflicting
claims
research
has
estab-
lished
a
number
pf
straightforwardstrategies
that
educators
can
useto meet
the
academic,linguistic,
and
cultural
needs
of
English
language learners.
What
We
Know
,
A
review of
effective
instructional
strate-gies
for
linguistically
and
culturallydiverse
students
reveals
that
many
of
these
strategiesare simply
extensions
of
approaches
that
work
well
with
all
students.
For
example,
sound
principlesand practices
of
classroom organization
and
management-such
as
small
instructional
groups-
seem
to
work
well
for
ELLs
(Garcia, 1991).
One
key
to
successfully
working
with
ELLs
is
to
view
them
as
a
resource
in
the
classroom.
According
to
Zehler
(1994),
these
students
can
offer
informa-
tion about
other
countries
and
cultures;
newperspec-
tives
about
the
world,
different
societies,
and
belief
systems;
and
opportunities
forexposingnative
English
speakers
to
other
languages.
In
addition, many
researchers
support
the
use
of
scaffolding
strategies
to
help
ELLs
organize
their
thoughts
in
English,
develop
study
skills,
and
followclassroom
procedures.
To
provide
meaning,scaffolding uses
contextual
supports-simplified
language,
teacher
modeling,
visuals
and
graphics,
andcooperative
and
hands-on learning.According
to
Diaz-Rico
and
Weed
(2002)
and
Ovando,
Collier,
and
Combs(2003),
English
language
learners
showprogress
when
their
content-area
teachers
consistentlyuse
these
supports
as
they
deliverinstruction.
These
researchers
identify
the
following
scaf-
folding
approaches
as effective.
Keep
the
language
siniple.
Speaksimply
and
clearly. Use
short,
completesentences
in a
normal
tone
of
voice.
Avoid
using
slang,
idioms,
or
figures
ofspeech.
Use
actions
and
illustrations
orein-
force oral
statements.
Appropriate
prompts
and
facial
expressions
help
convey
meaning.
Pointing
to
the
chalk-
boardwhile
asking,"Please
come
up
and
complete
the
math
problem"
is
more
effective
than
repeating
commands
or
directions.
Askfor
cormpletion,
not
generation.
Ask
students
to
choose
answers
from
a
list
or
to
complete
a
partially
finished
outline
or
N._;
*.paragraph.
Encourage
,
+<
students
to
use
languageas
much
as
possible
to
gain
confidence overtime.
K;
j
Modelcorrect usage
and
udicioutsly correcterrors.
Use
corrections
to
positively
reinforce
students'
useof
English.
When
ELLs
make
a
mistake
oruse
awkward
language,
they
areoften
attempting
to
apply
what
they
know
abouttheir
firstlanguage
to
English.For
example,
a
Spanish-speaking
student
may
say,
'It
fell
from
me"-a
direct
translation
from
Spanish-instead
of
'I
dropped
it."
Use
visual
aids.
Present
classroom
content
and
information
whenever
possible
in
a
way
that
engages
students-by
usinggraphic
organizers,tables, charts,outlines,
and
graphs, for
example.
Encourage
students to
use
these
tools
to
present
information.
Educators
Take
Note
A
final
key
componentof
serving
the
needs
of
English
language
learners
is
84
EDUCATIONAL
LEADERSHIP/DECEMIBER
2004/JANUARY
2005'
 
establishing
strong
relationships
with '
families.
Educatorssometimes
view
low
levels
of
parental
involvement
as
a
lack
of parental
interest
in
the
education
l
process. However,
non-English-speaking
families
often
have
no
means
for
communicating
with
the
school.They
may also
have different culturalexpecta-
tions
regarding
the
appropriate
relation-'
ship
with
their
children's
school.There-
fore,
schools
need
to
make additional
efforts
to
engage
these
families.
Boothe(2000)emphasizes
the
impor-
tance
of
inviting
immigrant
families
to
participate
in
meaningful activities
in
school,
such
as
classroomdemonstra-
tions
oftheir
culture
(food
or
clothing,
for
example)
or
awards
ceremonies
acknowledging
their
children's
accom-'
plishments.
Schools also
need
to
clearly
state
their
expectations
for both
parents
and
students,
especially to
families
newly
arrived
in
the
United
States.
Whenever
possible,
schools should
translate
all
written
communications
to
families
into
these
families'
native
languages.
Smaller
school
districtsmay,nothave
the
resources
to
translate
theirwritten
comnmunications
into
numerous
languages.
However,many translation
resources
are
available
on
theInternet
at
no
cost,including
http://babelfish
.altavista.com
and
www.itools.com.i
In addition,
schools should
identify
bilingual
contacts
in
the
school andcommunity
as
well
as
foreign
language
instructors
in
local
colleges
and
univer-
sities
who
might be
willing
to
provide
translation
support.
Researchindicates
that
establishing
partnerships
between
bilingual
families
and
non-English-
speaking
families
encourages
family
involvement
in
school
(Epstein,
1998;
Moll,
Amanti,
Neff,
&
Gonzalez,
1992).Additional
translation and
interpreter
resources
are
available
through
local
organizations
such
as
intercultural
insti-
tutes,
social
service agencies,and state
bar
associations.
Although
none
of
these
communica-
tion
solutions
is
perfect,
schools
that
adopt
them
demonstrate
their
willing-
ness
to
communicate
with
the
families
of
all
their
students.
Using
these
tools
to
reach out!
o
families
is
an
important
step
in including
ELLs
in
the
schoolcommunity
and
promoting their
achievementi
M
References
Boothe,
D.'
(2000). Looking
beyond
the
ESL
label.
Princ4palLeadership,
1(4),
30-35.
: I
Diaz-Rico,
L.
T.,
&
Weed,
K.Z.
(2002).
The
cross
cultural,
language,
and
academifc
developmnent
handbook
(2nd
ed.). Boston:
Allyn
and
Bacon.
Epstein,
J.
(1998).
School
andfamiily
part-
nerships:
Preparing
dtcators
and
inoroving
schools.
Boulder,
CO:
West-
view
Press.
Garcia,
E.
1991).
The
education
oflinguistically
and
culturally
diversestudents:
Effective
instructionalprac-
tices
(EducationalPracticeReport
1).
Santa
Cruz,
CA:
National
Center
for
Research
on
CulturalDiversity
andSecond
Language
Learning. Available:
www.ncela.gwu.edu/pubs/ncrcdsll
/eprl/index.htm
Kindler,
A.L.
(2002).
Sturvey
of
the
states'
If
mited
English
proficient
studen
s
and
available
educationalprograms
nd
services,
2000-2001
Summary
Report.
Washington,
DC:
National
Clearing-
house for
English Language
Acquisition
and
Language
Instruction
EducationalPrograms.
Moll,
L.'
C.,
Amnanti, C.,
Neff,
D.,
&
Gonzilez,
N.
(1992).
Funds
of
knowl-
edge
for
teaching:
Using
a qualitative
approach
to
connect home
and
class-
rooms.
Theory
into Practice,
31(2),
131-141.Ovando,
C.,
Collier,
V.,
&
Combs,
M.
(2003).
Bilingual
and
ESL
classrooms:
Teaching
multicultural
contexts
(3rd
ed.).
Boston:
McGraw-Hill.
Pearlman,
M.
(2002).
Measutring
and
sutpportingEnglish
langutage
earningin
schools:
Challenges
or
test
makers.
Presentation
at
CRESST
Conference,
Los
Angeles,
California.
Zehler,
A.
(1994).
WVorking
with
English
language
learners:
Strategiesfor
elementary
and
minddle
schoolteachers.
(Program
Infonnation
Guide
Series,
Nunber
19).
Washington,
DC:
National
Clearinghouse
for
English
Language
Acquisition
and
Language
Instruction
Educational Programs.
Zehr,
M.A.
(2004, Oct.
6).
Translation.
efforts
a
growingpriority
for urban
schools.Education
WVeek,
pp.
1,
15.
Tracy Gray
isa
Principal
Research
Scientist
at
the
American
Institutes
for
Research
(AIR),
specializing
in
technical
innovation
for
students
with,disabilities,
education
for
English
language
learners,
and
onlinelearning
tools
for
teachers
and
students.
She
is
he
Director
of
the
National
Center
for
Technology.
Steve
Fleischman,
series
editor of
this column,
is a
Principal
Research
Scientist at
AIR;
editorair@air.org.
I
ASSOCIATION
FOR
SUPERVISION
AND CURRICULUM
DEVELOPMIENT
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