Summary of the Theory behind Teaching ELLs
TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. This is an international group of teachers and researchers who research and develop standards that ELLs must meet under the NCLB law as well as research and develop methods teachers can teach and assess these students in order for them to meet the proficiency standards each year. These standards are part of the yearly AYP that schools must meet each year. The academic demands at the secondary level make reaching parity with grade-level peers increasingly difficult for English language learners.
There are five language proficiency standards. The standards must be followed in all schools:
The standards include communication for social, intercultural, and instructional purposes and the sharing of information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the following core subject areas: language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies. Each of the five language proficiency standards has been divided into the language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They are maintained as separate constructs as one way of thinking about curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The language domains are:
Listening: is an active skill; the need is to involve students in active listening and purposeful listening skills development.
Speaking: need to engage in oral communication in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes and in a wide spectrum of settings.
Reading: to process, interpret, and evaluate written language, symbols, and text with understanding and fluency.
Writing: use written communication for a variety of purposes and audiences; can be used to express meaning through drawing, symbols, or text; they may come with writing styles influenced by their home cultures.
The use of the five levels reflects the complexity of language development and allows the tracking of student progress across grade levels within the same scale.
The five levels are as follows:
Level 1 – Starting: initially have limited or no understanding of English – gradually begin to imitate the verbalizations of others by using single words, simple phrases, and begin to use English spontaneously – construct meaning from text primarily through illustrations, graphs, maps, and tables.
Level 2 – Emerging: can understand short phrases and short sentences; can communicate limited information in simple everyday and routine situations by using memorized phrases, groups of words, and formulas; can use selected simple structures correctly but still systematically produce basic errors; errors in writing are present that often hinder communication
Level 3 – Developing: understand more complicated speech but still may require some repetition; use English spontaneously but may have difficulty expressing all of their thoughts due to a restricted vocabulary and a limited command of language structure; speak in simple sentences which are frequently marked by grammatical errors; most successful constructing meaning from texts for which they have background knowledge on which to build
Level 4 – Expanding: language skills are adequate for most day-to-day communication needs; have difficulty with complex structure and abstract academic concepts; read with considerable fluency and are able to locate and identify specific facts within the text but may not understand the texts in which the concepts are presented in a decontextualized manner, sentence structure is complex, or the vocabulary is abstract or has multiple meanings; can read independently but may have occasional comprehension problems, especially when processing grade-level information
Level 5 – Bridging: can express themselves fluently and spontaneously on a wide range of personal, general, academic, or social topics in a variety of contexts; have a good command of technical and academic vocabulary as well as of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms; can produce clear, smoothly flowing, well-structured texts of differing lengths and degrees of linguistic complexity; errors are minimal, difficult to spot, and generally corrected when they occur.
Teachers need to become familiar with these levels in order to understand where the ELL students in their classrooms are. Knowledge of the level of each ELL student will help in planning lessons and activities as well as help in understanding how to help the student.
WIDA: This program is used in Alabama to measure the student’s progress at the end of each year. It identifies six levels of proficiency that correspond the TESOL. The first five levels are the same as TESOL, below is the sixth level:
Reaching: able to use specialized or technical language reflective of the content areas at grade level; use a variety of sentence lengths of varying complexity in extended oral or written discourse as required by the specified grade level; use oral or written communications in English comparable to proficient English peers
WIDA has a very good web site that has many suggestions and activities to use in the classroom by levels. The web site will be listed at the end of booklet in the web site list.
A Few Teaching Suggestions for Each Development Level
Use visual aids and gestures
Use slow speech emphasizing key words
Do not force oral production
Write key words on the board with students copying them as they are presented
Use pictures and manipulatives to help illustrate concepts
Use multimedia language role models
Use interactive dialogue journals
Engage students in charades and linguistic guessing games
Impliment role-playing activities
Present open-ended sentences
Promote open dialogues
Conduct student interviews with the guidelines written out
Use charts, tables, graphs, and other conceptual visuals
Use newspaper ads and other mainstream materials to encourage language interaction
Conduct group discussions
Use skits for dramatic interaction
Have students fill out forms and applications
Assign writing compositions
Have students write descriptions of visuals and props
Use music, TV, and radio with class activities
Show videos and computer web sites with cooperative groups scripting the visuals
Encourage solo readings with interactive
Levels 4 & 5:
Sponsor student panel discussions on the thematic topics
Have students identify a social issue and defend their position
Promote critical analysis and evaluation of pertinent issues
Assign writing tasks that involve writing, rewriting, editing, critiquing written examples
Encourage critical interpretation of stories, legends, and poetry
Have students design questions, directions, and activities for others to follow
Encourage appropriate story telling
These are just a few suggestions that can be used in all grades with the ELL students and with the at-risk students. On the web site resource page, you will find many sites with lessons and activities that can be used and will be broken down by grade levels.
Writing Lesson Plans to Include ELL Students
Included in this section is a link to a template to help you plan lessons. Below is an explanation of the template and how it will help you in planning. The purpose of the template is to aid you in your planning and to help you be sure that you cover all the requirements for lesson plan requirements. This template is an excellent way to prove that you have planned for ELLs in your lessons.
In this section, you will describe how the lesson will fit into your curriculum and overall unit.
Concepts: Addressed/Learned Objectives:
What are the key concepts that you want the students to understand?
Describe the approximate length of the lesson/unit and when in the year it will be taught.
How will you involve parents and address potential cultural barriers?
Describe some of the web-based resources and tools that you plan to incorporate into your lesson.
In this section, you will list the lesson activities, potential barriers/missed opportunities for ELL students, necessary modifications, and materials/resources needed.
List the various ways you plan to assess the students understanding of your learning objectives.
Place where you can add notes on how well the plan went and/or ways to improve the plan for future use.
There are many different ways to assess a student’s work other than the traditional test. When working with ELL students, as well as at-risk students, alternative methods of assessment will often give you a better idea of whether or not the student understands the concepts and objectives being presented. In assessing the ELL student using alternative methods of assessment, you need to work with the following:
Focus on documenting individual student growth over time rather than comparing one student with another.
Emphasis is on student strengths, what they know, rather than weaknesses or what they don’t know.
Consideration is given to the learning styles, language proficiencies, cultural and educational backgrounds, and grade levels of students.
Examples of Alternative Assessment that can be used:
Nonverbal assessment such as physical demonstrations, pictorial products, K-W-L Charts
Oral Performances or Presentations such as role-playing
Oral and Written Products such as content area logs, reading response logs, dialog journals, audio and video presentations
Portfolios that include some or all of the following materials: audio- and video taped recordings of readings or oral presentations, writing samples, art work, conference or interview notes or drawings, and graphs and charts; checklist, tests and quizzes
Alternative assessment holds great promise for ELL and at-risk students. The students are better able to present the knowledge that they have learned, use critical thinking skills, and be creative in their learning and writing skills when they are allowed to be assessed using methods other than the traditional multiple choice, fill in the blank, true-false, matching, or essay tests. There is a place for traditional testing, but the use of alternative assessment methods will give the teacher a better picture of the student’s abilities and understanding of the concepts and subject matter presented in class.
Web Sites for more information and activities:
Overview of Second Language Acquisition Theory | By Request…May 2003
The Education Alliance: Teaching Diverse Learners — Policy
TESOL Revises PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards (March 2006)
WIDA: English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards
Creating an Atmosphere of Acceptance
http://escort.org/files/active/0/Chapter4.pdf – plans for English content areas – Primary
CAL: Digests: What Elementary Teachers Need to Know About Language
Chapter 4 – English Language content – Middle and High School
Chapter 5 – Mathematics – Middle and High School
Chapter 6 – Social Studies – Middle and High School
Chapter 7 – Science – Middle and High School
NJ PEP: Virtual Academy (NJ Professional Education Port)
In the Classroom: Diverse Needs
Critical Issue: Using Technology to Support Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students’ Learning Experiences
Text to Speech Software with AT&T Natural Voices, NeoSpeech, Acapela, Nuance SAPI Voices™
Clifford Interactive Storybooks Home
Amazing Adventure Series – Read Along Stories and Movies for Children
BBC – The Little Animals Activity Centre – Storybear’s stories
its-myworld – an online community for students of English as a foreign or second language
ePALS: Communication Tools
Flashcards: The world’s largest library of printable flash cards
Interesting Things for ESL/EFL Students (Fun English Study)
The Internet Picture Dictionary
CAL: Digests: Interactive Language Learning on the Web
ESL in the Mainstream: How Technology Can Help!
ASCD PD-Online Course
In the Classroom: Home/School Connection
EdChange Equity and Diversity Quiz
Multicultural Education Classroom Activities Diversity
Teaching Today | Teaching Tip | Today’s Tip: Conduct Classroom Meetings to Address Disrespect in the Classroom
Heritage Languages in America
CAL: Digests: Practical Ideas On Alternative Assessment For ESL Students
Colorín Colorado :: For Educators – Using Alternative Assessments
Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators – Assessment Rubrics – Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators
Organizing and Assessing in the Content Area Class
CAL: Digests: Assessment Portfolios: Including English Language Learners in Large-Scale Assessments
EFL/ESL Lessons and Lesson Plans from The Internet TESL Journal