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We’re All Language and Content Teachers: Principles and Practices in Integrating Language and Content Instruction. Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) [email protected] Who’s Responsible for English Language Learners (ELLs)?.

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We’re All Language and Content Teachers:Principles and Practices in Integrating Language and Content Instruction

Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall

University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

[email protected]

Who s responsible for english language learners ells
Who’s Responsible for English Language Learners (ELLs)?

  • “I can’t teach science or mathematics or social studies; I’m an English teacher.”

  • “Send them to me after they’ve learned English; I’m not an English teacher.”

The dilemma
The Dilemma

“Students cannot develop academic knowledge and skills without access to the language in which that knowledge is embedded, discussed, constructed, or evaluated.

Nor can they acquire academic language skills in a context devoid of [academic] content.”

(Crandall 1994:256)

The answer language and content teachers collaboration cooperation
The Answer:Language and Content Teachers: Collaboration & Cooperation

  • Content Teacher’s Role

    content related to language skills

    curriculum & materials for content learning

    methods of teaching & assessing content learning

  • Language Teacher’s Role

    language related to academic content

    curriculum & materials for language learning

    methods of teaching & assessing L learning

  • Together: An Integrated, Content-Based Approach

Rationale for integrated instruction
Rationale for Integrated Instruction

  • Language is acquired most effectively in meaningful contexts

  • Content provides that meaningful base

  • Integrated instruction helps bring together linguistic, cognitive, & social development

  • Integrated instruction focuses on needed school genres/discourse

    (Adapted from Genesse, F. 1995)

Understanding the ell
Understanding the ELL

  • Who?

  • What problems?

  • What strengths?

Understanding the ell1
Understanding the ELL

  • Language acquisition issues

  • Issues of prior education and literacy

  • Cross-cultural issues

  • Other issues

    poverty, war, family

What makes content areas texts and discussions difficult for ells
What Makes Content Areas (Texts and Discussions) Difficult for ELLs?

  • Complex concepts

  • Unfamiliar (academic) language

  • Unfamiliar discourse structure

  • Lack of/different background knowledge

  • Unclear directions

  • Other

Two types of language proficiency
Two Types of Language Proficiency for ELLs?

  • Social Language (BICS)

    (Basic, Interpersonal Communicative Skills)

    Everyday (primarily oral) communication

    Informal, contextualized, interactive, clues outside of language, cognitively easy

  • Academic Language (CALP)

    (Cognitive, Academic Language Proficiency)

    Restricted (primarily written) communication

    formal, decontextualized, little interaction, few cues, cognitively complex

    (Adapted from J. Cummins, 1981)

Levels of language proficiency and appropriate questions to ask

Level 1: Pre Production for ELLs?

minimal comprehension

no speech

listen, point, act out, draw.

clap, show me

Level 2: Early Production

Limited comprehension

One/two word responses

name, list, either-or,

yes-no, some Wh-H Qs

Level 3: Speech Emergence

increased comprehension

speak in phrases/short

sentences with errors

tell, describe, role play, Wh-Qs

Level 4: Intermediate Fluency

Good comprehension

Converse socially

Begin to develop academic L

analyze, support, evaluate

What do you think?

What would happen if….?

Levels of Language Proficiency(and appropriate questions to ask)

What can we do to adapt instruction for ells
What Can We Do to Adapt Instruction for ELLs? for ELLs?

What has worked for you?

Jim cummins model
Jim Cummins’ Model for ELLs?

Cognitively undemanding

1 3

Context- Context-

Embedded Reduced

2 4

Cognitively demanding

Less demanding more demanding

Developing simple vocabulary for ELLs?

Following demonstrated



Answering simple Qs

Simple reading & writing

Engaging in routine conversations

Writing answers to simple Qs

Developing academic vocabulary

Participating in academic


Writing simple science


Understanding academic presentations w/out


Oral presentations

Taking standardized tests

Less-Demanding More Demanding

What can we do to adapt instruction for ells three guidelines
What Can We Do for ELLs?to Adapt Instruction for ELLs?Three Guidelines

  • Increase sources of information (context)

  • Decrease complexity

    (of concept, text or task)

  • Increase interaction

Increase sources of information reduce reliance on academic text
Increase Sources of Information: for ELLs?Reduce Reliance on Academic Text

  • Use pictures, charts, graphs, maps

  • Use demonstrations, gestures

  • Involve students in discovery & experiential learning

  • Embed in meaningful context: thematic teaching

  • Provide opportunities to learn from others

  • Use multiple media & opportunities to learn

Decrease complexity of concept text or task
Decrease Complexity of Concept, Text, or Task for ELLs?

  • Activate background knowledge

  • Focus on vocabulary

  • Chunk information

  • Provide graphic organizers, outlines

  • Paraphrase, repeat, summarize

  • Use comprehension checks & clarification questions

  • Consciously teach learning strategies

  • Use variety of texts

  • Use variety of assessments

  • Adapt texts

Increase opportunities for interaction
Increase Opportunities for Interaction for ELLs?

  • Use cooperative activities


    Round Robin/Round Table

    Numbered Heads Together

  • Encourage peer- , cross-age, cross-proficiency tutoring

  • Increase interactive writing

    Journals, response logs

  • Try content literature circles

  • Encourage project work

Adapting texts for ells
Adapting Texts for ELLs for ELLs?

  • Reduce text (“Less is more!”)

    Select most important information

    Use graphic organizers

    Assign different sections to students

  • Simplify structure

    Put topic sentences first

    Reduce complex sentences

    Make relationships clear

  • Build redundancy

    Repeat key ideas, words, phrases

Adapting texts for ells1
Adapting Texts for ELLs for ELLs?

  • Simplify vocabulary

    Avoid non-essential vocabulary

    Pre-teach, define difficult words

    Avoid synonyms

  • Provide visual support

    Use graphic organizers, outlines

  • Relate to students’ experiences

Developing thematic units to integrate l c instruction
Developing Thematic Units to Integrate L & C Instruction for ELLs?











Sample thematic unit plan
Sample Thematic Unit Plan for ELLs?

Topic: Food and Nutrition

Student Profile: Beginning or Intermediate/Elementary Grade Students

Language Skills:

Listening: Listen to a story (A Very Hungry Caterpillar)

Speaking: Talk about foods (good for you/not so good)

Retell story

Write dialogue for caterpillar and act out story Sing caterpillar song

Reading: Read language experience story

Read and sequence sentences from story (strip story)

Writing: Fill out calendar/graph of caterpillar’s foods

Fill out own calendar of daily foods

Make a caterpillar book and label

Content: Understand the value of different foods

Study skills/Strategies: Sequence information

Make predictions and confirm/disconfirm them

Language Objectives:

Grammar: Like/don’t like

On + days of the week

Past tense

Vocabulary: Days of the week, colors, fruits, other foods (pizza, cake, ice cream), caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly

The importance of vocabulary
The Importance of Vocabulary for ELLs?

Needs to be consciously taught and practiced

  • Is responsible for much of comprehension and motivation to read

  • Should be taught in chunks when possible

  • Major resource: Academic Word List

Academic word list http language massey ac nz staff awl headwords shtml
Academic Word List for ELLs?http://language.massey.ac.nz/staff/awl/headwords.shtml

  • Based on 3,500,000 word academic corpus

  • Consists of 570 “headwords” with related words for total of 3,000 words

  • Most frequent academic words

    Occurred in Arts, Commerce, Law, Science

    Occurred over 100 times in corpus

    Occurred at least 10 times in each area

  • Excluded are the 2000 most frequent words from West’s General Service List proper nouns, Latin forms


    (Developed by Adrien Coxhead & colleagues in Wellington, NZ)

Teaching vocabulary 25 on each
Teaching Vocabulary: 25% on each for ELLs?

  • Learning from input (L,R)

    Most common 2,000 words (about 80%)

    Stored as one unit

  • Focused language learning

    100,000 + most infrequent words

    Teach patterns; roots & affixes

  • Learning from output (S,W)

    Use words; repetition

  • Fluency activities (L,S,R,W)

    Use known words & grammar

    (Paul Nation)

Some vocabulary activities
Some Vocabulary Activities for ELLs?

  • Word walls

  • Matching

  • Word analysis

  • Webs

  • Word games

  • Personal dictionaries

  • Cloze/fill in blank

  • Act out/draw/circle/point to items that match definition

  • Intensive and extensive reading

The importance of writing
The Importance of Writing for ELLs?

Writing is:

  • a form of output

  • a means of building fluency

  • a way of developing accuracy

    (in grammar, vocabulary, etc.)

  • a critical skill for academic success

  • a source of input

Writing and reading complementary practices
Writing and Reading: for ELLs?Complementary Practices

We learn to read by reading, and

We learn to write by writing.


We also learn to read by writing, and

We learn to write by reading.

Some guiding principles
Some Guiding Principles for ELLs?


  • is a way to demonstrate proficiency

  • helps us discover what we do or do not know

  • is a process (not everything needs to be graded)

  • is more than a paragraph or essay

  • conventions differ cross-culturally

  • can be collaborative

Collaborative writing
Collaborative Writing for ELLs?

  • Writing does NOT need to be a solitary act.

  • Any stage in the writing process can be collaborative (pre-writing, drafting, reviewing, revising, editing, publishing)


  • Provides opportunity for meaningful communication

  • Promotes meta-cognition and meta-discussion of writing (and language)

Writing to build fluency
Writing to Build Fluency for ELLs?

Low-risk way to draw upon implicit knowledge

  • Journals or Logs

  • Pen or Key Pals

  • Free-writing or Quickwrites

  • Informal Writing: emails, blogs, discussion boards

Fluency or accuracy not both
Fluency or Accuracy: Not Both for ELLs?

Important to focus on EITHER

Fluency OR Accuracy

  • Fluency: focus on meaning, use of implicit learning, risk-taking

  • Accuracy: focus on form, use of explicit (monitored) learning, care

    Focus on Fluency AND Accuracy

    only after practice with both.

Some last thoughts
Some Last Thoughts for ELLs?

  • Focus on key concepts & language

  • Modify your own language

  • Provide multiple opportunities to acquire both language and concepts

  • Let students work together

  • Provide time to think, rehearse

  • Validate students’ prior knowledge

  • Encourage hands-on learning

  • Ask questions at students’ level of English

Some more last thoughts the changing school population
Some More Last Thoughts for ELLs?The Changing School Population

  • 1 of 3 children is ethnic or racial minority

  • 1 of 5 speaks a L other than English at home

  • 1 of 10 was born outside the U.S.

  • 1 of 5 has a parent who was born outside the U.S.

  • ELLs are fastest-growing population in our schools

Further reading
Further Reading: for ELLs?

The following are available at:


  • Crandall, J. A. (ed.) (1987). ESL through content-area instruction: Mathematics, science, social studies. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

  • Crandall, J. A. (1994). Content-centered language learning. ERIC Digest ED 367142. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

  • Crandall, J. A. (1998). Collaborate and cooperate: Teacher education for integrating language and content instruction. English Teaching Forum, 36(1), 2-9.

  • Crandall, J. A. (1998). The expanding world of the elementary ESL teacher. ESL Magazine, 1(4),

  • Crandall, J. A., Jaramillo, A., Olsen, L., & Peyton, J. K. (2002). Using cognitive strategies to develop English language and literacy. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.


Additional references
Additional References for ELLs?

  • Crandall, J. A. (1999). Cooperative language learning and affective factors. In J. Arnold (Ed.), Affective factors in language learning. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

  • Crandall, J.A. & Kaufman, D. (eds.) (2003). Content-based instruction in higher education settings. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

  •  Kaufman, D. & Crandall, J. A. (eds.) (2005). Content-based instruction in elementary and secondary school settings. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

  • Crandall, J. A., Nelson, J., and Stein, H. (2006). Providing professional development for mainstream and novice or experienced ESL and bilingual teachers. In Field, R., & Hamayan, E. (eds.) Educating English language learners: A handbook for administrators. Philadelphia: Caslon, Inc.