ACCESSING THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS WITH ACADEMIC LANGUAGE Toward a Higher Standard of Performance 2011 OELAS Conference December 6-9, 2011
Robin ScarcellaProgram in Academic English and ESLUniversity of California - Irvine firstname.lastname@example.org
A Letter from a University Student Requesting Exemption from UCI’s ESL Requirement Dear Mrs. Robbin I really not need humanity 20 writing class because since time I come to United State all my friend speak language. Until now everyone understand me and I dont ’ need study language. I don ’t know Vietnam language. I speak only English. I have no communication problem with my friend in dorm. My English teacher in high school key person to teach me. My teacher explain to me that how important the book was for the student and persuaded me read many book. I get A in English through out high school and I never take ESL. I gree that some student need class but you has not made a correct decision put me in English class. Please do not makes me lose the face. I have confident in English.
Letter from the Same University Student After Instruction Hi Robin, I am apologize for having to send you this information at the last minute. I still need a letter. This letter should discuss my qualifications, skills and accomplishments. It should be written on letterhead and addressed “To Whom It May Concern” and submitted with a Recommendation Form (which I will give to you tomorrow). Please write a letter that addresses my academic achievement, seriousness of purpose, personal maturity, and whether or not I possess the skills necessary to adapt to a new environment. Also, please address my ability to think analytically, my aptitude, my overall maturity and my independence. Thank you so much Robin for doing this for me. I truly appreciate it. Let me know if you have any last minutes questions.
If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint slides or the handouts via e-mail, please request them at this e-mail address:Robin Scarcellarcscarce@uci.edu
Session Objectives In this session, we will consider: • The pivotal role of academic language in the instruction of English language learners • Task-based language objectives in fostering students’ conceptual and language development
Session Objectives • We will work together to understand academic language and to analyze and write useful language objectives.
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 challenging: • 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.
A Few Questions • 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 (cover term, includes LEP students) • Vernacular dialect speakers • Students who enter schools with languages other than English
Many Acronyms • English language learner (ELL) • English language proficiency (ELP) • Arizona English Language Learner Assessment (AZELLA) • Structured English Immersion (SEI)
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 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 academic English required for them to access core content instruction and benefit from it. • Continue to teach academic English 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. Curricula should accompany instruction to support this goal. • Scientific evidence base: Low in 2007, but the evidence is growing. It is now moderate.
The Linguistic Dimension Academic Language Phonology Vocabulary Grammar Sociolinguistics Discourse
Aspects of Academic English Vocabulary Knowledge Vocabulary of Instruction Words to teach & learn lesson content (strategies, pre-writing, context clues) Vocabulary of Text 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. • Example: 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.
Specific Recommendations • Teachers must understand that instruction 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 Example of an Effective Instructional ProgramCatherine Snow’s Word Generation Program • 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 Website: http://www.wordgeneration.org
What are academic words? Averil Coxhead developed a list of 570 academic words that are used in a variety of academic disciplines.
Authority Assume Traditional Select Philosophy Access Ethnic Liberal Minimum Release Survive Ideology Inevitably Coherent Persist Examples of Academic Words http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/
Word Generation: Materials • • 24 weeks, each week focused on a set of 5 words • • 4 strands/content-areas with 6 topics each • Topics • Science strand: stem cell research • Math strand: athletes and multi-million dollar salaries • Social Studies strand: Should English be the official language of the US? • English Language Arts strand: affirmative action and • college admissions
Catherine Snow’s Word Generation Program Monday Introduce the 5 words in a paragraph. Tuesday - Thursday Teach 5 words through content-area word activities. Friday Elicit 5 targeted words in writing.
Language information is transparent and accessible. Language instruction is relevant and focused on improving the accuracy of student academic language. Characteristics of Effective Strategies
Three Instructional Strategies 1. Helping students distinguish the difference between formal and informal registers 2. Teaching academic language -- Vocabulary -- Grammar -- Discourse 3. Providing instructional feedback
Strategy #1: Helping students distinguish the difference between formal and informal registers
Consider the following examples of informal English. The examples, compiled by Frodesen (2011), come from the PBS Digital Nation transcript. Soit really hit me one night not that long ago… And I don’t know it just kind of snuck up on us. There’s always gains and losses. But [these students] have done themselves a disservice by drinkingthe Kool-Aid and believing that a multi-learning environment will best serve their purposes.
Formal and Informal Registers • Academic language is a formal register of English. It is the language of classrooms, of academic disciplines, of textbooks and literature, and of extended, reasoned discourse. • The development of formal (academic) language is a key instructional goal for all students. Sustained academic language instruction should support this goal. • A first step in providing this instruction is helping students identify the features of formal and informal registers.