Academic Literacy Community of Practice Webinar 4: Teaching Academic Language to English Language Learners Hosted by the Center on Instruction May 11, 2010
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COI Staff • Angela Penfold, Director • Ruth Dober, Deputy Director of Communications • Andrea Reade, Research Associate • Mabel Rivera, Deputy Director (ELL Strand) • Debby Miller, Deputy Director (Reading Strand) • Christy Murray, Deputy Director (Special Ed Strand) • Erika Soucy, Technical Assistance
Today’s Agenda • Formal presentation • Question and answer session with our featured speaker • Evaluation
Teaching Academic Language to English Learners Community of Practice: Robin Scarcella email@example.com Presented at Webinar May 11, 2010
The dilemmas remain the same: • If students do not receive rigorous content instruction, they fail to acquire academic language. • If they do not understand their content instruction or cannot participate in it, they fail to learn academic language. • If they are not given challenging, academic language instruction, they fail to acquire high level literacy skills. • If they do not acquire high level literacy skills, they fail to acquire academic language.
The solution is a challenging one: • Teach students academic language.
The only way to give students a chance of reaching content standards is to teach them the academic language needed to access rigorous content instruction.
What’s the problem? • Students are running out of time! • Content AND language need to be taught together; If they aren’t, English language learners lag behind.
Agenda • Which students need to learn academic language? • What is academic language? • What research-grounded instructional approaches and strategies are effective in teaching it to English language learners? • What challenges do we face in teaching students academic language? • What do we know about academic language now that we did not know about academic language ten years ago?
Many Names • English learners • English language learners • LEP students • Non-native English speakers • ESL students • Recent arrivals • Long-term residents • Linguistic minority students • Vernacular dialect speakers • Students who enter schools with languages other than English
Characteristics Many English learners have received much, if not all, of their education in the United States and they speak a language in addition to English at home. Sometimes they speak English ONLY.
Characteristics • Many long-term immigrant students are often highly proficient in English. • Many lack proficiency in academic language. • Even native English speakers are in the process of learning academic language.
Many English language learners… • Have been schooled for many years in the United States, many since kindergarten • Have had interrupted educational backgrounds • Do not appear to be making much progress learning English—aspects of their English language development may have stabilized. It is now mandatory to examine the progress of these students over time.
Students often hit a PLATEAU in the development of English when they become functionally proficient.
Many Proficiency Levels • Beginning • Intermediate • Advanced Caution: Many students who have learned English as a second or third language are proficient enough in English to access core content curricula and require no specially designed English language assistance in school.
Recommendation • Teach those students who need it the English required for them to access core content instruction and benefit from it. • Continue to teach language to students once they receive core content instruction.
Recommendation • Academic language is the “language of the classroom . . . of academic disciplines . . . of texts and literature, and of extended, reasoned discourse.” • The development of formal (academic) English should be a key instructional goal for ELLs. Curricula should accompany reading (and mathematics) instruction to support this goal. • Scientific evidence base: Low (2007)
The Linguistic Dimension Academic Language Phonology Vocabulary Grammar Sociolinguistics Discourse
Aspects of Academic Language Vocabulary Knowledge Vocabulary of Instruction Words to teach & learn the lesson content (strategies, pre-writing, context clues) Vocabulary of Text words related to Unit/Theme/Selection (habitats, camouflage, voyagers) Basic, high frequency words Academic words Content specific words Word Complexity Multi-syllabic words with prefixes, suffixes, Greek & Latin roots (informational, hopelessness, psychology)
Aspects of Academic Language • Complex Sentence Structures / Syntax • Sentences with passive voice, prepositional phrases, and conditionals • Discourse • Units of language more than one sentence in length that can allow for the organization of speech and writing and convey meaning and coherence across sentences, etc. (We walked for charity, and in so doing we raised money for the Children’s Foundation. The charity walk raised money for the Children’s Foundation.
Discourse: Learners need to know how to produce extended texts. • Those two splendid old trains have been restored with great cost. • The restoration has been costly.
Informal English #1 Jack Springer thinks that the government should allow people the right to own a gun. But I don’t agree with him. People like him sort of think that the government limits our rights when it restricts gun stuff. They kind of think that most people who own guns are responsible guys who keep the guns for sport and recreation. They also think that the police are unable to stop violent crime and we need guns to protect ourselves. But I think he is wrong. I agree with Josephine Bluff who thinks that guns increase the amount of violent crime in the community. I also think that human life is worth more than giving shooters the right to go shooting on the weekend. And I also think that many of the guns that are kept around the house would of ended up being used in violent domestic disputes or teenage suicides.
#2 Academic English Jack Springer maintains that the government should allow people the right to own a gun. This position asserts that the government is infringing on our democratic rights when it restricts gun ownership. Most people who own guns, so the argument goes, are responsible citizens who keep the guns for sport and recreation. It is further contended that the police are unable to stop violent crime and we need guns to protect ourselves. However, as Josephine Bluff states, guns increase the amount of violent crime in the community. Moreover, human life is worth more than giving shooters the right to go shooting on the weekend. In addition, many of the guns that are kept around the house are used in violent domestic disputes or teenage suicides. Adapted from: Bill Daley, 1997http://wwww.eslplanet.com/teachertools/argueweb/inform.html
Converting Informal English Into Academic English Jack Springer maintains that the government should allow people the right to own a gun. This position asserts that the government is infringing on our democratic rights when it restricts gun ownership. Most people who own guns, so the argument goes, are responsible citizens who keep the guns for sport and recreation. It is furthercontended that the police are unable to stop violent crime and we need guns to protect ourselves. However, as Josephine Bluffstates, guns increase the amount of violent crime in the community. Moreover, human life is worth more than giving shooters the right to go shooting on the weekend. In addition, many of the guns that are kept around the house are used in violent domestic disputes or teenage suicides. Adapted from: Bill Daley, 1997 http://wwww.eslplanet.com/teachertools/argueweb/inform.html
Two types of written text: Narrative text tells a story and usually follows a familiar structure. Narrative text may be the invention of an author, the reporting of factual events, or the retelling of a tale from oral tradition. It is often written in informal, everyday English. Expository textprovides an explanation of facts and concepts. Its main purpose is to inform, persuade, or explain. It is usually written in academic English. Consider: Type of Text
1. Informal English/ Narrative
2. Academic English/ Expository
Specific Recommendations • Teachers must understand that instruction with ELLs should include time and focus devoted to the development of academic English. • Daily academic English should be integrated into the core curriculum. • Conversational English does not need to be established prior to regular instruction in academic English. Gersten et. al, 2007.
Greater Emphasis on the Development of Academic English in Oral Communication • Well-structured activities designed to develop the student’s oral language (e.g., helping the student hear word endings and use them). Gersten et. al, 2007.
Grouping Practices Ineffective Effective
Well Structured Conversations Remember: We tend to acquire the language of those with whom we communicate.
Videos of academic conversations can be viewed at these websites: • Preparing for Success in Algebra http://www.camsp.net/html/index.html • Access to the Core http://www.accesstothecore.com/html/index.html
Specific Recommendations • Many features of academic English can not be identified easily. Therefore, the best way to teach academic English is through a curriculum with a defined scope and sequence. • However, there are few curriculum materials that have solid evidence of effectiveness. • Consequently, materials should be selected carefully and implementation should be planned thoughtfully.
The critics argue: Curricula with defined scope and sequence will not work. They are just one more instructional bandwagon… …There is no scientific evidence to support them… They won’t work, because they lead to “one size fits all” instruction. . . They limit teachers’ freedom. . . …too much scripted instruction. . . They stop teachers from using their professional judgment… They prevent students from developing language!
Common sense suggests: When teachers lack expertise in teaching diverse groups of students, they need a curriculum with a defined scope and sequence. When students need instructional routines. . . they need a curriculum with a defined scope and sequence. When students frequently move from one school to the next . . . they need a curriculum with a defined scope and sequence.
Common sense suggests: When teachers need to teach something so difficult and so extraordinarily complex as academic language. . . …they need a curriculum with a defined scope and sequence.
An ExampleElfrieda (Freddy) Hiebert’s QuickReads1 Website: http://www.textproject.org • Are designed to provide a foundation for the development of academic English, increasing students’ knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and discourse • Teach reading to young children as well as struggling adolescent learners • Include the instruction of informational non-fiction • Provide background knowledge
An ExampleElfrieda (Freddy) Hiebert’s QuickReads1 • Allow students to gain reading proficiency and experience in extracting information from the text they are reading • Repeatedly expose students to specific content words
An ExampleCatherine Snow’s Word Generation Program2 Website: http://www.wordgeneration.org • Was designed to reduce the fragmentation of academic words in content areas • Was designed to engage adolescent learners • Was developed with the expectation of 15 minutes of instruction on academic words each day • Introduced controversial topics • Repeatedly exposed students to specific content words and provided instruction in these words • Also targeted words from the Academic Word List