Supporting Language and Literacy Development for English Language Learners

Supporting Language and Literacy Development for English Language Learners

Beatrice Adera (West Chester University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0897-7.ch018
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Abstract

Classroom teachers throughout the U.S. are faced with a variety of challenges due to the rapidly changing demographics in their classrooms. These teachers must recognize and address the vast cultural, ethnic and language differences represented while at the same time adhering to the different accountability based federal and state mandates. This chapter provides an overview of the policies regarding education of English Language Leaners (ELLs), examines different ethnic groups represented within ELL subgroups including basic demographic information across the different states in the U.S. The chapter also examines challenges hindering school success and effective instructional support and strategies that facilitate language development and academic literacy.
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Background Information About English Language Learners

Nationwide, the school enrollment numbers of ELL’s have increased by over 50 percent in the past decade. According to researchers (Ferlazzo, & Sypnieski, 2012; Wright, 2015), this subgroup represents a diversity of background and life experiences including:

  • Students born in the US but raised in homes where English is not the dominant language; Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas;

  • Students whose family are voluntary immigrants from stable countries who have had access to quality education but relocate to the US to explore better opportunities

  • Refugee population with limited and disrupted education who have been resettled from war torn countries

  • Migrant worker populations who are typically highly mobile, moving from place to place in search of better opportunities

Current predication is that if the numbers continue to rise at the present rate, the ratio of ELL to native (English-only students) speakers enrolled in K-12 public schools within the next 20 years could be one in four. In the following section, key demographic patterns of ELLs across the nation and the second language acquisition process will be addressed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

WIDA Framework: Focuses attention on expanding the academic language of ELL by building on their diverse linguistic resources and the pathways they follow throughout the language acquisition process.

Comprehensible Input: Incorporates the use of language adapted to students’ level of language proficiency and using a variety of techniques to make the concept clear.

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS): Refers to the social language used in social contexts, is typically informal, cognitively simple and is often acquired very quickly to facilitate social interactions.

Silent Period: This is the period during which new learners of English are unwilling or unable to communicate orally using the English language.

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP): Refers to language that is formally complex and typically used in academic context that typically takes longer to acquire and is essential in facilitating academic achievement.

Reclassification: Students who have achieved advanced language proficiency are typically exited from ESL support and are expected to fully function in mainstream classrooms, without further supports for language development.

Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP): An instructional model includes eight different components and developed to facilitate high quality instruction for ELLs in content area.

Sheltered Instruction: This is an instructional approach that engages new learners of English in learning grade level content knowledge along with language development.

English Language Learner (ELL): Students from racial, ethnic and linguistic minority groups for who English is not their first language but in the process of acquiring English language.

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