Adaptations for English Learners
A) After choosing a standard from the California academic content standards and turning that standard into a learning goal, the teacher chooses the appropriate instructional strategy.
after this process is complete does the teacher choose an appropriate adaptation
of the instructional strategy for English learners.
B) Instead of looking at adaptations for ELs in the mainstream classes as a separate strategy, mainstream teachers must plan an integrated instructional system that truly includes the EL in the total learning process. Instructional adaptations must eventually bring the ELs to actively engage in negotiating meaning of the learning context and monitoring their progress.
That can be done by amplifying and enriching the language of the classroom,
using new words in a context and paraphrasing it, instructional scaffolding and
schema building, and using assessments that inform student progress. Such
accommodations would provide rich learning opportunities that allow the ELs to
weave new information presented in the class into structures of meaning or
schema that exist in their learning system. (See TPE 7)
(See TPE 7)
The Teacher’s Use of Language
*provide additional “wait time” for student responses to questions
*be conscious of the vocabulary you use
Modeling as an adaptation is an excellent instructional tool providing an opportunity for the ELs to visualize what needs to be learned and how it could be accomplished. Modeling as an instructional technique allows the teacher to become an active role model to explicitly demonstrate to students how to learn something or what needs to be learned. It is also a useful strategy in guiding students in reading of a text and comprehending it while rehearsing the mental operations involved in comprehending a selected text.
*teach the language of the subject
*simplify sentence structures and repeat sentences verbatim before trying to rephrase
Explanations can be useful, but it is often a good idea to repeat verbatim difficult sentences containing important information and ideas. This gives students a second chance to process the same structure --- something they don’t get if they are presented too quickly with a rephrased version that may be just as challenging as the original sentence.
*rephrase idioms or teach their meaning
EL students often translate idiomatic expressions literally. For example, a teacher might say “Take a stab at it,” to encourage a student; the EL students would be very confused by their literal interpretation of this. If someone uses an expression like this, rephrase it so that EL students can attach meaning to it. Post a list of the week’s idioms for students to see.
*clearly mark transitions during classroom activities
To avoid confusing EL students when changing topic or focus, explicitly signal the changes (e.g., “first we will...”, “now it’s time for...”)
*periodically check to ensure EL students are understanding
EL students may be reluctant to ask for clarification or to admit that they don’t understand something, if asked directly (some may feel that it is disrespectful or an affront to the teacher to admit that they don’t understand). To check for understanding, focus on students’ body language, watching for active listening behaviors or for expressions or posture that indicate confusion or frustration. Bear in mind, however, that sometimes only later performance provides an accurate indication of the extent of students’ understanding
Contextual Supports for Linguistic Development
*write key words on the board and use visual and other non-verbal cues, wherever possible, to present key ideas
*provide written notes, summaries, instructions, and pre-reading
EL students may not be able to process oral information quickly enough to understand fully or to make their own meaningful notes; your notes can highlight key ideas, new words, etc.; written instructions are particularly useful to students when homework or major projects are assigned.
the students’ native languages to check comprehension and clarify problems
If you or some of your students speak some of the native languages of your EL students, use the first language to clarify instructions, provide translations of key words that are difficult to explain in English, and find out what the students know but cannot express in English. Most EL students will only need this additional support for a limited time or in rare situations.
Research indicates that the more highly developed a student’s first language, the more successful they will be in acquiring a second. In fact, bilingual learners who continue to develop their first language have more success than those who focus entirely on acquiring English; there are also many benefits for students’ self-esteem when they know that their primary language is valued.
*communicate interest in students’ linguistic development and set expectations
*respond to students’ language errors
When students produce incorrect grammar or pronunciation, rephrase their responses so as to provide feedback on the content of what they say as well as a model of correct usage, without drawing specific attention to the error (e.g., “California have many natural resource.” “Yes, California has many natural resources. Can you name some of them?” or “Whose own pen is this?” “I’m afraid I don’t know whose pen this is.”).
In responding to students’ written errors, try to focus on consistent errors of a specific type (e.g., lack of plural endings) and concentrate on modeling or correcting only that error. If you target each and every error, the student cannot easily see the logical rule that must be applied in particular situations and may become confused and overwhelmed. Always remember to focus on content first, however.
*use directed reading activities
*use audio taped texts to combine aural and visual cues
*establish a supportive environment for language learning
cooperative learning strategies
Some EL students may be unfamiliar with cooperative learning strategies or even culturally predisposed to reject them. The rationale for cooperative learning may consequently need to be explained, and the related strategies may need to be explicitly taught.
Cooperative learning groups provide opportunities for EL students to interact orally with their peers in a small, non-judgmental forum. EL students are able to hear others use the language of the subject to review key points. They are also able to ask questions they might be reluctant to pose in front of the whole class. Research studies show that the use of carefully structured learning groups has many positive outcomes in terms of academic achievement, communication skills, race relations, the development of socially responsible and cooperative behavior and attitudes, and self-esteem.
*encourage students to rehearse information or instructions orally
Students can work in
pairs or small groups to explain or reinterpret instructions to each other. In
this way, peers help ensure that everyone in the group understands.
peer tutoring or working with a bilingual aide
or working with a bilingual aide
Use of peer tutors is especially helpful for integrating new arrivals and helping orient them to school and classroom routines. The approach works best if the students being paired are compatible, if specific responsibilities are assigned, and if some training and recognition are provided for those who undertake the tutoring. For example, a supportive student (perhaps a well integrated EL student whose language skills are already quite developed) can be assigned to work with an EL peer on a set of math problems, verbalizing each step of the process aloud. If the EL student can verbalize the process at the end of a specified period, both students receive recognition.
(These adaptations certainly have their benefits because EL students in the mainstream classrooms mostly come with certain level of competency in conversational abilities.
(Working with someone would certainly provide interpersonal and contextual cues to make the cognitive demands easier. Although it is an effective strategy, it cannot fully provide all the elements needed for high level of cognitive involvement and processing required for learning.
(Delegating the EL
to a student or a professional would certainly help the mainstream teacher
manage the difficulty he/she would face in dealing with the learning needs of EL
students but these adaptations would not replace instruction that is structured
to meaningfully engage the ELs with the content. )
a homework club
A homework club is usually a safe, quiet environment for students to complete homework assignments.