The English Language Learning Standards

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Topic 1 DQ 1

Modern researchers in education and language learning distinguish between the so-called social and academic languages that differ in terms of their goals and the amount of time that their development takes. For teachers, it is important to know how to help English language learners to develop academic language (CALPS) since this process can be quite lengthy and take up to eight years to be completed (Cummins, 1999; Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2017). Interestingly, to improve the effectiveness of strategies aimed at the development of CALPS, it is reasonable to employ more teachers that share one native language with English language learners (Khatib & Taie, 2016). Also, to facilitate the development of academic language in these students, it is essential to implement learning activities focused on the different dimensions of the English language, such as intensive grammar teaching to improve linguistic knowledge and encourage higher-order thinking.

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Additionally, to encourage the development of CALPS, teachers can implement classroom activities that would encourage children to communicate in English to better understand the peculiarities of social practices and communication in academic settings. Some examples of this include challenging students to polish their practical skills by working on simple research projects and participating in debates, plays, story writing, reading activities, discussions, and so on (Echevarria et al., 2017; Grand Canyon University, n.d.; TESOL International Association, 2006). Such activities can help to transform a person’s linguistic knowledge peculiar to everyday situations into the ability to comprehend academic-level content and demonstrate research skills in the classroom.

The silent or pre-production period refers to the phase of second language acquisition during which students focus on listening to other people’s speech and comprehending it instead of trying to construct and present meaningful messages in the target language. The key thing to do to reach out to students that are in this period is to adjust instruction to give them enough time and support to come up with correct answers without too much stress. One way to support students during the silent period is to meet their basic needs (being able to observe and listen) by means of peer modeling (Li, Mitchell, & Howard, 2011). To help such students to develop positive attitudes toward studying the English language, it is also important to avoid forcing them to speak and react to questions instantly. Another helpful recommendation is to provide such students with the opportunity to learn at their own pace and without distractions (Li et al., 2011). This can be achieved by creating independent study areas with books for English language learners.

In terms of more specific aspects of classroom instruction, there are multiple ways to collaborate with students in the silent period more effectively. In particular, when explaining something new to them, it is critical to make sure that there are enough clues for them to understand or guess the meanings of unfamiliar words. To provide clues, it is effective to illustrate concepts with the help of pictures, graphs, or videos. Additionally, the teacher can use intonations, gestures, and facial expressions to help students to draw parallels between English words that are new to them and concepts from their native language. Apart from that, when communicating with students that have just started learning English, it is practical to ensure common understanding by making messages simple enough, placing emphasis on high-frequency words, or making pauses to give students enough time to grasp the meaning of what has been said.

Topic 1 DQ 2

English immersion programs in different states are designed to speed up language learning and assist English language learners from different age groups in developing the necessary skills to achieve academic success. Although bilingual education makes the process of learning less challenging for English language learners, it does not always result in such students’ proper achievement. For this reason, some states, including California, require schools to offer structured English immersion programs. The initiative against bilingual education was passed in California in 1998 (Mora, n.d.). By changing the intensity of language learning activities for ELLs, the mentioned approach allows increasing the proportion of students that demonstrate proficiency in English.

In California, structured English immersion remains the main approach to educating ELL public school students and maximizing their ability to function and achieve success as learners and members of society. Still, dual immersion is another option that students’ families can choose. According to the California Department of Education (2019), the program based on the structured English immersion approach involves providing “nearly all instruction” in English (para. 4). According to the general principles, such programs consist of one year of instruction in English with other ELL students to be followed by learning in mainstream classrooms with native speakers (Clark, n.d.; Mora, n.d.). Aside from the language of instruction, the program is different from the approaches for the native speakers of English in terms of the instructional techniques and curriculum development. As per the information from the CDE’s official website, structured English immersion programs should be developed specifically for ELLs and make use of the English Language Development instructional strategies (CDE, 2019). Other details of how ELL students are educated in California using structured English immersion may depend upon specific school districts.

References

California Department of Education. (2019). Language acquisition programs. Web.

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Clark, K. (n.d.). The case for structured English immersion. Educational Leadership, 66(7), 42–46.

Cummins, J. (1999). BICS and CALP: Clarifying the distinction. Bloomington, IN: Educational Resources Information Center.

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. (2017). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Grand Canyon University. (n.d.). English language teaching. Web.

Khatib, M., & Taie, M. (2016). BICS and CALP: Implications for SLA. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(2), 382-388.

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Li, N., Mitchell, Y., & Howard, C. (2011). What a case study reveals: Facing the new challenge and learning the basics in second language acquisition. National Teacher Education Journal, 4(1), 25-32.

Mora, J. K. (n.d.). From the ballot box to the classroom. Educational Leadership, 66(7), 14–19.

TESOL International Association. (2006). TESOL pre-K-12 English language proficiency standards framework.

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