Meeting the needs of English language learners (ELLs) in career and technical education (CTE) represents a growing challenge for all teachers in the field. The challenge is especially overwhelming given the widespread agreement that teachers are not well prepared to meet the needs of ELLs. The implications for schools and CTE teachers are discussed in connection to appropriate instruction for ELLs addressing language development considerations. The underlying premises of effective instruction aligned with contextual teaching and learning, relation to teaching practice in CTE programs, and the implications for using technology to facilitate ELLs’ learning are also examined.
When ELL students join a classroom they are confronted with the daunting challenge of learning new knowledge while trying to learn a new language and get acculturated at the same time. In addition to learning English to understand, navigate, and communicate in social situations, ELLs also face the overwhelming task of learning “academic English” in school. That is, the abstract and complex language required for classroom instruction both orally and in writing. For the majority of ELLs, this struggle has an impact on grades, motivation, and future educational and occupational prospects (Eisenhauer, Zhang, Hernandez, & Angee, 2007; Goldenberg, 2008; Office of English Language Acquisition, 2008).
Key Terms in this Chapter
English Language Development: This term refers to the process of how English language learners acquire and develop proficiency in English as a second language.
Conversational English: This is the language also referred to as “basic interpersonal communication skills” (BICS) typically connected to the use of phrases and gestures that relate to immediate and concrete social activities and exchanges.
Technology-Rich Learning: The purposeful integration of appropriate technology into student learning to enhance motivation and active engagement in learning processes.
Direct Instruction: This type of instruction emphasizes explicit teaching of skills, knowledge, applications and connections to language development such as spelling patterns and vocabulary words.
Academic Literacy: This term refers to speech involving formal, academic, and subject-specific jargon.
Native Language: This is also referred to as the mother tongue or home language. This is generally thought of as the first language a person learns.
Contextual Teaching and Learning: Contextual teaching and learning is defined as the coherent use of real world situations and problems found in broadly defined careers.
English Language Learners: While other terms are used (e.g., Limited English Proficient, English as a Second Language), the use of the term English Language Learner is now widely accepted.
Interactive Instruction: This type of instruction involving give-and-take activities between students and teacher is designed to promote students’ engagement, understanding, and for eliciting communication skills at appropriate functional levels.
English as a Second Language: This is a term commonly identified with the acronyms ESL or ESOL referring to related resources available in districts or schools.
Immersion: Instructional approach in which 100 percent of the instructional time is spent communicating through the target language; in comparison with submersion, the class is composed mostly of speakers of the target language with only a few non-native speakers.