Leadership for ELL Success
PLE #1: Managing Change/ Pre-Activity
1. It takes 3 to 5 years for English Language Learners to master academic English.
2. ESL programs are more effective for than Dual Language programs. _____________
3. Schools with high ELL populations perform worse on achievement measures than schools with low ELL populations. _____________
4. Younger children learn a second language faster than older ones. _____________
5. Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) can catch up to their peers in 2-3 years. _____________
6. Girls are better at learning language than boys. _____________
7. Existing NCLB accountability and testing procedures are fair assessments for the ELL subgroup . _____________
8. Total Physical Response (TPR) is an effective instructional strategy for teaching beginning level ELLs. _____________
9. ESL teachers who speak their students’ native language are better. _____________
10. A person cannot acquire a native-like accent once they learn a second language after puberty. _____________
11. Two of the most important policies to influence bilingual education were the Lau Regulations and the Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974.
12. State ELA exams accurately predict ELL success in English classes. _____________
13. State and Federal guidelines use a common definition of English proficiency. _____________
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It takes 3 to 5 years for English Language Learners to master academic English.
FALSE . English Language Learners pick up basic interpersonal communication skills in a short time frame, anywhere between six months and two years. Cognitive academic language proficiency, when students actively engage in formal academic learning takes much longer, about 5-7 years. Educators mistake social interaction with success in an English dominated classroom.
ESL programs are more effective than Dual Language programs.
FALSE . In typical ESL classrooms, students may have different language backgrounds and the lessons are conducted entirely in English. In dual language classrooms half of the student population is made up of native English speakers, and the other half is comprised of students who speak the same foreign language. Teachers conduct half of the content in English and the other half in the foreign language. This program benefits both the English-speaking students and ELLs, because students reinforce each other’s native language strength and the constant language exchange promotes native-like language immersion.
Schools with high ELL populations perform worse on achievement measures than schools with low ELL populations.
TRUE . If achievement is measured by standardized tests, that is. It takes second language learners approximately five to seven years to acquire cognitive academic language proficiency that will allow them to successfully navigate the challenges of performing well on subjects, such as science and history.
Thereby, schools with high numbers of ELLs tend to perform worse on achievement measures.
Younger children learn a second language faster than older ones.
FALSE . The research suggests that younger children do not necessarily have an advantage over older children and, because of their cognitive and experiential limitations when compared to older children, are actually at a disadvantage in how quickly they learn a second language. However, pronunciation is one aspect of language learning where younger children tend to pick up faster than older ones. This may be because pronunciation involves motor patterns that have been fossilized in the first language and are difficult to alter after a certain age.
Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) can catch up to their peers in 2-3 years.
F ALSE . Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) refer to students who came to this country having missed two years or more of schooling. These students often enter with low or no literacy in any language and are coping with difficult living conditions or migration experiences. Thus, it is almost unlikely, if not impossible, to catch up to their peers academically within 2-3 years.
Girls are better at learning language than boys.
TRUE . Recent research studies show that girls show more activity in the language part of their brains, which deciphers abstract encoding, than boys. The boys have more activity in the regions of the brain linked to auditory and visual function. The findings suggest that boys learn language best through a combination of oral and visual stimuli, whereas girls can learn via either method.
Existing NCLB accountability and testing procedures are fair assessments for the ELL subgroup.
FALSE . The accountability measures put in place through NCLB were hastily designed and not with
ELLs in mind. Many states, therefore, developed instruments to measure and maintain an annual record of students’ language acquisition over time. From its inception these language tests proved to be riddled
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with a lack of reliability and inconsistent in its alignment with the English Language Arts (ELA) standards. There is little correlation between test scores and language proficiency.
Total Physical Response (TPR) is an effective instructional strategy for teaching beginning level
TRUE . James Asher, an American professor of psychology in the 1960s, originally developed Total
Physical Response (TPR). It is based on the theory that the memory is enhanced through association with physical movement. TPR as an approach to teaching a second language is based on listening and it is linked to physical actions, which are designed to reinforce comprehension of particular basic items. This instructional approach can be quite effective for beginning level ELLs as kinesthetic activities help to serve as a memory aid.
ESL teachers who speak their students’ native language are better.
FALSE . ESL teachers who speak their students’ native language are not necessarily better. ESL teachers who speak their students’ native language often translate, as they believe that it helps ELLs formulate meaning. It is a misconception because the problem with translating from English to ESL students' native language is that it directs the ELLs to think in their native language first and then try to structure meaning in English. This process actually interferes with the natural acquisition of a language.
A person cannot acquire a native-like accent once they learn a second language after puberty.
TRUE . After puberty, pronunciation is the most fickle part of language acquisition for non-native language learners to acquire. Most individuals who speak a second language fluently may speak it with an accent, unless they learned the language before the critical period around puberty. Most linguists coincide in that the critical period marker closes it window by the age of 10 to 11 years old.
Two of the most important policies to influence bilingual education were the Lau Regulations and the Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974.
TRUE . The Lau Regulations and the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1974 were two milestone policies that defined legal responsibilities for schools serving limited-English-proficiency students. These policies require all school districts to have special programs for limited-English-proficiency students regardless of federal or state funding.
State ELA exams accurately predict ELL success in English classes.
FALSE . State ELA exams are not designed to assess ELLs, and are unable to measure what these students really know and are able to do. Any test in English “is first and foremost an English proficiency exam rather than a measure of content knowledge.” Studies suggest that unnecessary linguistic complexity may hinder ELL students, the result being that they are not able to express their knowledge because their English skills are still developing. Thus, State ELA exams do not necessarily predict ELL success in an all-English mainstream, but rather, continue vigilance of their progress is key.
State and Federal guidelines use a common definition of English proficiency.
There is no standard definition of limited English proficiency. Jurisdictions apply different criteria when deciding if a child is eligible for bilingual/ESL education. Likewise, there are no uniform rules for when a child should exit a bilingual/ESL education program and enter mainstream classes
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