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ESL Identification Procedures 1


ESL Identification Procedures

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ESL Teaching

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Procedures for Identifying ESL

Although it is often obvious which students require ESL services but this is not always true.

With very young children too, the need for ESL support is not always obvious, partially

because of differences in early developmental patterns from one child to another, and partly

because any precise evaluation of a child's English language proficiency should take account

of all language modes (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

Some ESL students display a good command of oral English as they enter school, but have

difficulties as reading and writing are introduced, and for some the reverse is true. The

challenge for the teacher is to identify whether these difficulties are indicative of a need for

ESL support or of a real learning disability.

When one is learning a new language, comprehension always precedes production. Beginner

ESL children are usually silent for an initial period, because they are listening and

memorizing. Signs that a child requires ESL support emerges from the formative evaluation

that classroom teachers are able to undertake. Teachers using different methods of

performance evaluation normally recognize when students are having difficulty with

language-reliant activities.

Teachers suspecting, on the basis of a child's performance difficulties, that he or she requires

ESL support may be able to confirm this by taking more information from parents/guardians,

sometimes from the child himself/herself about his/her educational background,

ethnic/cultural community of which he/she is a part, family support of English Vs. his/her

mother tongue etc.
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If the need is felt an ESL specialist should be consulted to verify teacher’s assessment. (BC

Education -- ESL A Guide for Classroom Teachers – Identification Retrieved October 18,

2008 from

Formal Language Proficiency Assessment

Any such assessment is advised to be carried out under the direction or with the assistance of

a trained ESL specialist. This process of assessment of language proficiency may use

informal techniques and some criterion-referenced instruments, like oral interviews, writing

samples etc. The assessment instruments used should take into account all language modes.

This initial assessment should subsequently be reviewed on a regular basis. Due to several

innate ambiguities initial assessment results should not be seen as complete or perfect.

With support, ESL students who have a developing grasp of English perform best if given an

opportunity, for most purposes, to participate with appropriate support in mainstreamed

classes with non-ESL peers. Given appropriate instructional practice, their needs can be met

without displeasure of other students. Subsequent assessments may suggest alternate

placements, but generally speaking, research suggests that holding students back until they

have better mastery of language is seldom appropriate. (Collier, Virginia. "How long: A

synthesis of research on academic achievement in a second language." TESOL Quarterly, 23,

1989, 509-531.)

Things Teachers must do

Teachers who are working with ESL children are strongly advised to make available the

materials, like dictionaries specifically designed for learners of English, bilingual dictionaries

(in English and the child’s mother/household tongue), picture and visual dictionaries,

drawing, painting, and modeling supplies, catalogues, magazines, or other heavily illustrated
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reading material games (including games that require or focus on language use), in the

classroom in addition to the course material. (Elliott, J. (Feb 2008) Six Group Activities for

Teaching ESL Children)

The Teacher's Use of Language

The teachers should provide additional "wait time" for student responses to questions, use

vocabulary very carefully, teach the subject language also, make simpler sentence structures

and repeat sentences, reword idioms and teach their meaning, check periodically to make

certain that ESL children are comprehending. They can also provide additional help by

providing key words on the board and/or use visual and other non-verbal helps, give written

notes, lectures etc. The teacher may also use the students' own languages for the purpose of

better understanding, they may also respond to students' language mistakes, use audio-taped

texts to improve listening and speaking aspects of the language, they may also support

children to repeat information or instructions orally. One interesting technique is the use of

peer tutoring and establishing a homework club(s). (Elliott, J. (Feb 2008) Six Group

Activities for Teaching ESL Children)

Assessing, Evaluating, and Reporting on Student Progress

The finest proof of an ESL child's developing language skill comes from his/her performance

in class. Teachers not having much familiarity with ESL children need to keep in mind,

however, that performing whole day in a second language is usually arduous and demanding,

especially for children. Homework can take these students much longer to finish. Therefore,

assignments should be chosen carefully to emphasize only important concepts and

knowledge. Short in-class "tests" can also provide valuable information about students'

understanding of both subject matter and language. Teachers should avoid reliance on
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multiple-choice and true/false assessment instruments with ESL children and should provide

extra time in tests for ESL children answering questions in English.
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Elliott, J. (Feb 2008) Six Group Activities for Teaching ESL Children Retrieved October 18,

2008, from http://


Collier, Virginia. "How long: A synthesis of research on academic achievement in a second

language." TESOL Quarterly, 23, 1989, 509-531.

BC Education -- ESL A Guide for Classroom Teachers – Identification Retrieved October 18,

2008 from