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English Language Learners & the SIOP Method Training

Brittany Bisese
November 24 th , 2014

In todays classroom, the number of ESL students continues to grow substantially. It is

important to recognize that ESL students vary in their life experiences, native languages,
cultures, and socioeconomic statuses. ESL students can be US or foreign born, with or without
refugee statues, with or without their family, and from very wealthy or low-income families.
Thus it is important that the teacher must first, know her students. She must know not just
what their native language is, but their experiences, the culture they come from, a general
knowledge of their living circumstances and their level of proficiency in each area of English.
Knowing her students allows the teacher to choose appropriate content and accommodate this
content to fit the needs of this child.

Next the teacher must know her content and be an expert at what she is teaching.

When a teacher has expertise in the subject areas that she is teaching, then she will speak and
provide opportunities to engage with the material that will be clear and concise. This clear and
concise instruction is essential for all learners, including ESL students.

Finally the teacher must know what works, meaning what specific strategies she should

incorporate and what goals she should set for her students. A teacher will impact her students
every day, for better or for worse. This powerful quote represents that the teacher needs to

be intentional with her decisions and goals so that she will have a positive, not negative, impact
on the childs growth.
To be highly effective at teaching ESL students in the classroom, the teacher must
consult the WIDA standards and CCSS when planning instruction. These standards call for a
focus on students learning first the BICS (social language) then the CALP academic language
necessary to excel in each of the four core content areas, Language Arts, Math, Science, and
Social Studies. Within each of these areas, the teacher must know that there are 6 stages of
language acquisition: entering, beginning, developing, expanding, bridging, and native-like
proficiency. Within the four main processes of language: listening, speaking, writing, and
reading, the student may have differing levels of proficiency. For example, the student may
speak the language at a level 5, but are reading the language at a level 3.
The teacher must see the acquisition of language as a process in which students
progress through these stages and develop their social language first, then their academic
vocabulary. The teacher should be intentional about teaching with a strategy called
Comprehensible Input or I + 1. This means that the teacher should teach the information they
need for that grade level plus the skills they need to grow one level of proficiency in their
English language abilities. Although, students develop language at their own rate, this strategy
meets students where they are and strives to move them one level of proficiency from where
they are.
The most critical method to getting these students to progress through these phases is
to implement the SIOP method into the classroom. This method offers explicit guidelines for

and emphasizes lesson preparation, building background knowledge, comprehensible input,

specific strategies, daily interaction, practice/application, lesson delivery, and reviewing
Through incorporating this best practice method, the teacher should see growth in all of
her students learning, including ESL learners.