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Characteristics of ELLs Strategies for helping them succeed

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1 Characteristics of ELLs Strategies for helping them succeed
We are All ESL Teachers Characteristics of ELLs Strategies for helping them succeed

2 Diversity within Diversity
ESL means languages from around the world Different skill abilities and education levels No more homogeneous than other student groups

3 “Learning English” Conversational English (Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills) or BICS Academic English (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) or CALP BICS takes about 2 years to learn CALP takes 7-10 years to learn CALP = academic success

4 3 basic groups of ELL students
Newly arrived with adequate schooling Newly arrived with limited schooling Little or no literacy in any language Long term ELL could be… Not new, but in and out of school Not new, but still learning CALP and struggling to catch up academically BICS conceals need for continued supports Loss of literacy in native language

5 Language Proficiency Descriptors
WIDA standards (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) ESL students tend to transition into regular classrooms around “Expanding” level Still need help but they lose their support services Many of our native speakers are also at “Developing” or “Expanding” levels

6 Stages of Language Acquisition
A fluid system…mixture of BICS and CALP Pre-production Early production Speech emergence Intermediate fluency Early stages characterized by “silent period” and work on receptive communication

7 Anxiety = Silence “Affective filter” means anxiety will cause speech to shut down “Monitor” theory = the more you monitor your speech, the more the affective filter kicks in “positioning theory” =if we position ELLs as uninvited or inferior, affective filter increases

8 What can teachers do? Speak so we are understood (slower pace, repetition, multiple examples) Provide visual and verbal context clues Create a low anxiety learning environment to encourage verbal responses and interaction Provide challenging and meaningful engagement with material

9 Because History is a language-rich curriculum…
We need to employ content reading strategies We need to identify and teach academic language We need to develop written expression We need to encourage verbal expression

10 Academic Language The language of school
Unlikely to learn it anywhere but school “Brick” words and “mortar” words Brick: concrete vocabulary Mortar: the “in between” words that provide meaning

11 Brick words in social studies might include…
Congress executive delta Hippocampus assimilation representative Deviance cerebellum caucus Latitude tectonics plateau

12 Mortar Words We understand them, but we need to teach them:
Define, explain, contrast, categorize, evaluate, criticize… Even harder to understand: Entity, perspective, manifest, imperialism, Federalism, nevertheless, consequently… Without them, reading doesn’t make sense

13 Some common strategies
Concept cards/vocabulary cards Vocabulary journals Word walls Illustrated Dictionary Entry Cloze Activities with word bank Modeled talk (show them circle, trace, underline) Use them in conversation Use hand gestures when possible

14 Content Reading Strategies
To increase comprehension before, during, and after reading The best strategies help students Read the text Think about the text Write about the text Speak about the text

15 Pre-reading strategies include…
Frontloading with visual strategies “Visual Discovery” strategy inspired by History Alive! Teachers’ Curriculum Institute Engaging interest with prior knowledge/current events Identifying and teaching academic language Guided reading strategies: “guess the answer,” SQR3, etc.

16 Strategies during reading
Teaching and modeling note taking that works for students Oral reading strategies for fluency practice: teacher “read aloud,” paired reading, choral reading or reader’s theatre GIST strategies and variations Visualizing or imaging strategies (picture what you are reading about) Predicting what comes next

17 Post Reading Comprehension
Return to Visual Discovery for “act it outs” “Found Poems” or “I Am Poems” Concept Mapping/Relevance Wheel Cause and Effect Charts Timelines Comic Strip Activities Add a title, add captions, add thought bubbles, draw what comes next

18 Other strategies to increase comprehension and engagement
Quick writes/quick draws Think pair share Hold up cards (green and red) Thumbs up/sideways/down 4 Corners Human spectrum “Explain it to your neighbor”

19 “Properly Channeled Empathy”
Improper empathy can cause us to enable and handicap our ESL students Asking fewer questions, asking only lower order questions, allowing fluent students to answer, not allowing for wait time, not allowing for latency time for new learning, lowering our expectations, forgetting to provide challenging material.

20 Properly Channeled Empathy
“Properly channeled empathy can lead to creating classroom environments where students are free to take risks and where opportunities for developing higher levels of thinking have been heavily scaffolded.” Himmele and Himmele, The Language Rich Classroom, p. 88

21 Some reminders for teaching ELLs
Lower the Affective Filter and make it safe for students to speak Provide lots of scaffolds to help all students get where we want them to go Consult WIDA charts to tell us how students can currently respond and what next level we can encourage

22 Sources Bower, et al, Bring Learning Alive: The TCI Approach for Middle and High School Social Studies. Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2004 Himmele and Himmele, The Language Rich Classroom Rothenberg and Fisher, Teaching English Language Learners: A Differentiated Approach. Pearson Education, Inc., 2007 WIDA website:

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