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Working with ELL Students. Acculturation & Strategies that work with ELs. As a Center Base School or Sheltered Classroom…. -What opportunities does this create for you as a teacher? -What concerns do you have? Talk with a partner - Sticky notes. Terms you will hear….

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Working with ELL Students

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Working with ELL Students

Acculturation & Strategies that work with ELs

As a Center Base School or Sheltered Classroom…

-What opportunities does this create for you as a teacher?

-What concerns do you have?

Talk with a partner - Sticky notes

Terms you will hear…

ELL - English Language Learner

LEP - Limited English Proficiency

ESL - English as a second language

ENL - English as a new language

TESOL - Teachers of English to speakers of other languages

Who are ELLs?

  • ELL students represent five groups

    • Refugee students - placed through the UN

      & Secondary refugee students (no financial help)

    • Students who are immigrating on other types of visas: Ethiopia - Diversity visa, Mexico, etc.

    • Students who have been adopted who are ELLs

    • Students who are children of visiting professionals and higher ed students (studying at Augie, etc.)

    • Migrant students - whose parents work in agriculture

Where do ELLs come from?

  • In the SFSD there are over 55 language groups

  • At the Immersion Center we are now seeing students from:

    • Iraq, Yemen (Arabic)

    • Somalia,Kenya,Tanzania,Congo,Ethiopia, Burundi

    • Burma, Thailand

    • Mexico, Guatemala

At the Elementary level…Who comes to Center Base?

  • All students K-12 who come into the district answer the question: What language is spoken at home? If it is other than English they come to the Intake Center at Jane Addams for language testing.

  • Elementary Level 1 Language students go to the Immersion at Jane Addams for 1 - 2 yrs.

  • Once they are able to read and are as far as we can get them in 2 yrs - they “graduate” to a Center Base school.

At the Middle School level…Who comes to Sheltered Classes?

  • Middle School Level 1 Language students go to the Immersion Center at Axtell Park Middle School for 1 - 2 yrs.

  • Once they are able to read and are at a DRA 18 - they “graduate” to ELL Sheltered Classes.

At the High School level…Who comes to Sheltered Classes?

  • High School Level 1 Language students go to the Immersion Center at the high school in their home attendance area. There are Immersion Centers at LHS, WHS, and RHS.

  • Once they are able to read and are at a DRA 18 - they “graduate” to ELL Sheltered Classes.

How do we decide who graduates out of the Immersion Center?

  • The Office of Civil Rights has now given the SFSD permission to keep ELL students in the Immersion Center up to their first 2 years in the country.

  • Students who have had prior education progress more quickly than students who have not been in school before.

    • One of the primary challenges in ELL is older students with interrupted or limited education.

The Transition from the Immersion Center to the next step…

  • At Elementary: A meeting is held between a student’s Immersion Center classroom teacher, Kevin Dick, the SFSD ELL Coordinator, the Immersion Center Home-School Liaison and available staff from the receiving Center Base school.

  • Documentation of student progress is passed on for each student.

  • Students are graduated at the end of each quarter. Home-school liaisons arrange visits.

The Transition from the Immersion Center to the next step…

  • At Middle School and High School the transition from Immersion to Sheltered Classes looks different in each building.

  • If you want more information about how this transition works in your building, talk with the principal that is over the Immersion Center program in your building. Funding is a factor.

What do I need to know to be effective with ELLs?

Understand as a speaker of English you have a PhD in English compared to your English Learners (ELs) - you have what your students need!

What do I need to know to be effective with ELLs?

  • 2. Speak slowly and distinctly, explain idioms!

    • We will talk about language levels and appropriate activities for each level this afternoon.

  • 3. Model! Use pictures, interactive media or hands on objects with your grade level content - ELLS are learning vocabulary as well as concepts!

  • Remember 90% of communication with ELL’s is nonverbal - they see everything!

Sociolinguistic Development

Sociolinguistic Development

Standardized tests

Content areas

State Performance tests

5-7 years to attain

Level 6

Level 5

Level 4

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Asks questions

Asks for help

  • Advanced Fluency

  • Intermediate Fluency

  • Speech emergence

  • Early Production

  • Pre-Production

12,000 Receptive words

Academic settings

Decontextualized, abstract

Literacy skills

3-5 years to attain

Often quiet, not comfortable asking questions or asking for help.

7,000 Receptive words

Everyday communication

Contextualized, concrete

2-3 years to attain

Hands-on science/math

Emergent readers

Predictable books

1,000 Receptive words

1-2 years to attain

Note: In America 6 years olds

know 6,000 to 24,000 when

learning to read English in 1st Grade.


  • BICS - basic interpersonal communication skills (social language)

    • 1 to 2 years to acquire, context embedded

  • CALP - cognitive academic language proficiency (academic language)

    • 5 to 7 years, context reduced

  • To facilitate language learning we must re-embed lessons in context and make the language accessible and comprehensible to all our learners.

An important aspect of Acculturation and adaptation is second language acquisition. Rate of Vocabulary Development

  • Children learn new words at about 2,000

    per year without effort or organized instruction.

  • Infants learn one new word for every hour they are


  • Children learn an average of 3,400 words per year or 27 words per day.

  • At the lower end children may learn only 1,500 words per year.

Rate of Vocabulary Development

  • Children may learn up to 8,500 words per year if learning is done naturally and not through memorization.

  • By the age of six, most children have a vocabulary of about 10,000 words in their native language.

  • Children need about 40,000 hours of exposure to English to be able to excel academically.

  • PHLOTE children may have only 22,000 hours of exposure to English by the 5th Grade.

  • PHLOTE: Primary Home Language other than English

Tools: Responsive Classroom

Assume nothing - teach everything!

Build community! - Morning Meeting

Get to know your students!

Rules & Logical Consequences:

Self-control, Take a break, Buddy room, Loss of Privilege, You break it, you fix it.

Acculturation - the process of adaptation and integration into a new cultural environment (Collier).

OR – the chaos of moving…





Insights, reflections


The adaptation to a new

Culture: language, etc.


How we learn to interpret the world through caregivers:

language, beliefs, tastes, humor, behavior, etc.


Things all are born with: Sensory abilities, linguistic wiring, genetic &

biological heritage, innate abilities, etc.


Ways we are less like people.

Ways we are more like people.


Lasts about 1 year


your mind

The better you

leave the better

you enter.

























The Transition Experience

Everyone goes through acculturation when they move – whether it is someone moving from the US to another country or from another country to the US!

Cycle of Culture Shock


  • Finds the new interesting and exciting.

  • Listens to the new sounds, intonations, and rhythms of the new language.

  • Tries doing/saying things in the new culture/language that are interesting.

  • Tries out new activities, words and attitudes with a lot of enthusiasm.


  • Basic needs met & routine established

  • Improvement in transition language skills

  • More positive experiences with new culture.

  • May experience stress in ‘home’ culture.


  • Encounters Problems.

    -At First: Basic Needs.

    -Later: More Complex problems.

  • Misunderstandings Related to language, customs, mannerisms occur.

Mental Isolation

  • Misses ‘home’ culture.

  • Feels like outsider in new.

  • May limit or avoid all contact with new culture.

  • Spends more or all of one’s time with own cultural group.

Cognition & Culture


The concept of things that particular people use as models of perceiving, relating, and interpreting their environment.

The process by which individuals perceive, relate to, and interpret their environment.

Therefore: Any effort to assess or provide

intervention with cognitive development

must be done within the cultural context.


Cognitive Cultural Base

  • Edward Hall (1983) goes so far as to liken this cognitive cultural base to the hardwiring of a computer.

  • The essential difference between an PC versus a MAC. One cannot become the other; this does not mean they cannot communicate or work effectively together.

  • Once our operating system is in place, we can learn new languages, gestures, customs, while retaining our fundamental processes.

Common Side Effects of Acculturation Process

  • Heightened Anxiety

  • Confusion in Locus of Control

  • Withdrawal

  • Silence/unresponsiveness

  • Response Fatigue

  • Code-switching

  • Distractibility

  • Disorientation

  • Stress Related Behaviors

Have you ever seen students like this?Talk with a partner - describe the student

  • If you had a student like this, what would you think?

  • Yes, these look like, indeed are, behavior and learning problems.

  • They look like behavior and/or learning disabilities and often result in referrals to special education or other services.

Acculturation can also be referred to as Culture Shock

  • These are NORMAL side effects of acculturation NOT indications of disabilities.

  • The appropriate intervention for these is to ‘treat’ the impact of culture shock, which is not a disability.

Acculturation - the process of adaptation and integration into a new cultural environment (Collier).

  • ELL students go through many phases of development as they are with us…

  • Looking at these phases and the reasons for them can

    help us to better understand & accommodate for the needs

    created by these factors.

  • Take a minute and share with a partner, an

    experience you have personally had as a new person in a

    new culture: a new food you have tried, a lesson learned

    the hard way, a wrong assumption you made, etc.

Acculturation Grid

Four Types of Acculturation by Padilla & Berry

Resources Available to you!

• Your ELL student’s previous immersion teacher - feel free to e-mail!

SFSD ELL Instructional Coach

District Professional Dev - Oct. 12th

on ELL!

WIDA Can DO Descriptors

  • WIDA provides CAN DO Descriptors for ELL students at various grade levels. These are provided on their website:

  • These will help you in knowing what type of academic work students are capable of at their various language levels.

  • If you are providing work appropriate to the student’s language level and need to provide further intervention it is important to understand the connection between culture and cognition.

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