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English Language Learners. What you need to know before you test. Myths: 2nd Language Acquisition. Bilingual education delays, if not prevents, LEP students form learning English. LEP students have more oral-language special education deficits.

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English language learners

English Language Learners

What you need to know before you test.


Myths 2nd language acquisition

Myths: 2nd Language Acquisition

  • Bilingual education delays, if not prevents, LEP students form learning English.

  • LEP students have more oral-language special education deficits.

  • All bilingual education programs are the same; therefore if they are in bilingual ed they cannot be described as having “lack of educational opportunity.”

  • You only have to test a child in their native language if when they can’t talk to you in English or if they are in bilingual ed/ESOL.


Some stats

~16% of LEP students scored above the state norm on English reading measures

~30% of LEP students scores above the state norm when tested in reading in their own language

8.7% of LEP students in grades 7 to 12 had been retained.

Drop=out rates

24.2%: non-English spoken at home

9.6%: English spoken at home

17.6%: Students with SLD

Some Stats


What are we asking

What are we asking?

“To what degree is the second-language learner's academic difficulty or failure due to an inherent disability versus pedagogically induced factors?”


Lep instructional programs

LEP Instructional Programs

  • ESL/ ESOL (no native language instruction

    • Content-Based ESL/ Sheltered English

    • Pullout ESL

  • Bilingual Education (some native language instruction)

    • Transitional/ Early-Exit Bilingual Education

    • Maintenance/ Late-Exit/ Developmental Bilingual Education

    • Two-Way/ Dual-Language Bilingual Education


Esl esol content based esl

ESL/ESOL:Content-Based ESL

  • AKA: Sheltered English

  • Instruction is in English only.

  • Class is made up of all different language groups.

  • Total Physical Response is main method of teaching.

  • Student spends from 50-100% of the day in this type of classroom.


Esl esol pullout esl

ESL/ESOL:Pullout ESL

  • Similar to Content-Based ESL

  • Differences from Content-Based ESL

    • Focus is not on teaching academic materials in English, but to just teach English.

    • Students leave their classroom and receive separate instruction elsewhere.

    • Usually less than 50% of the day is spent in the pullout classroom.


Bilingual education transitional early exit

Bilingual Education:Transitional/ Early-Exit

  • Primarily comprised of students from the same language group.

  • Usually last for 2-4 years.

  • Initially use L1 as foundation and transition to L2

  • Use both L1 and L2 from the very beginning.

  • L1 is used mostly for language arts.

  • Teach L2 at the expense of L1.


Bilingual education maintenance late exit

Bilingual EducationMaintenance/ Late-Exit

  • Primarily comprised of students from the same language group.

  • Usually last for 4-6 years.

  • Use L1 for longer time and for more than just language arts.

  • L1 is taught as well as L2, thus L2 is not lost.


Bilingual education two way dual language

Bilingual EducationTwo-Way/ Dual Language

  • English as L1 or another language as L1 are placed together (goal = 50/50).

  • The goal is for both English as L1 and other language as L1 will be bilingual in both languages.

  • Program provided for at least 4-6 years (usually starts at Kindergarten).

  • Instruction is taught (goal is usually 50/50) in both L1 and L2.


Research for bilingual education

Research for Bilingual Education

  • Small scale (low number of subjects) research tends to have different findings (pro and con) for success of bilingual education.

  • The only large scale study that did not find positive results for bilingual education (over ESOL) had serious methodological problems.

  • One thing to note, even amongst the larger scale studies, Thomas and Collier (1997) was the first to measure students longitudinal success.


Group project discuss findings on page 67

Group Project: Discuss Findings on Page 67

  • Discuss the findings from this study with one another (note: One-way program is a maintenance program).

  • A principal at a school where you work is asking about bilingual education. He heard that “sink or swim” was best. Practice exactly how you might tell him about the findings in this (and other) studies without offending him. He is a busy man and only has a minute for you to talk to him in the hall.

  • Present this to the class.


Group project exclusionary clause

Group Project: Exclusionary Clause

  • A child has been referred for a special education evaluation who speaks Korean as his native language.

  • He started this school in 2nd grade and is now in 5th grade. He has received only ESL Pull-Out instruction.

  • Discuss the issue of “lack of educational opportunity” in talking about exclusionary clauses prior to eligibility determination for SLD.


Language acquisition in terms of years

It takes 12 years for students to acquire L1.

Birth to Age 5: Develop BICS

Age 5 to Age 12: Develop CALP

It takes 4-7 years for a English-only child to get CALP in L2

ELL in bilingual education program

It takes 2-3 years to develop BICS in L2

It takes 5-7 years to develop CALP in L2

ELL in traditional program

May obtain CALP in L2 in 7-10, but many never do.

Language Acquisition in Terms of Years


Group project

Group Project

  • A child has been referred for behavioral problems in class (mostly inattention and not connecting to her classmates).

  • Examine the chart on page 71 and talk about behavior in terms of language acquisition.

  • What are some assessments or questions you might ask to differentiate between language acquisition and a psychological problem?


English language learners

An ELL need to obtain CALP in L1

in order to get CALP in L2

An ELL need to obtain CALP in L1

in order to get CALP in L2

An ELL need to obtain CALP in L1

in order to get CALP in L2

An ELL need to obtain CALP in L1

in order to get CALP in L2


Quote cummins 1984

Quote: Cummins (1984)

“Minority language students are frequently transferred from bilingual to English-only classrooms when they have developed superficially fluent English communicative skills.”


Myths revisited 2nd language acquisition

Myths Revisited: 2nd Language Acquisition

  • Bilingual education delays, if not prevents, LEP students form learning English.

  • LEP students have more oral-language special education deficits.

  • All bilingual education programs are the same; therefore if they are in bilingual ed they cannot be described as having “lack of educational opportunity.”

  • You only have to test a child in their native language if/ when they can’t talk to you in English or if they are in bilingual ed/ ESOL.


Prereferral considerations for culturally and linguistically diverse students

Prereferral Considerations for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Chapter 5


Prereferral teams

Prereferral Teams

  • Composition:

    • At least one member who is knowledgeable about culture and language in educational instruction.

  • Perceptions of the team:

    • Some teams are designed to provide interventions and suggestions with a final possibility of SPED services

    • Other teams are designed to be an unwelcome barrier necessary to overcome to get a child into SPED.


Special ed was not devised to solve general ed s problems

Special ed. was not devised to solve general ed.’s problems.

  • Special education is for children with GENUINE disabilities.

  • Special education is not a way to keep general educators from having to learn instructional strategies for:

    • Slow-learners

    • Second language learners

    • Socially maladjusted learners

  • Prereferral teams should be a technique to help general education teachers learn these instructional strategies.


Why shouldn t sped be the answer to all problems

Why shouldn’t SPED be the answer to all problems?

  • Hispanics in special education did not make the academic strides that those in bilingual education can.

  • “Slow-learners” placed in special education graduate at lower rates than those in general education (Kaznowski, 2003).

  • Children with mild disabilities do not perform as well when placed in pull-out programs than when they are able to remain in the general education classroom (School Psych Handbook)


Critical factors in ell learning environments

Critical Factors in ELL Learning Environments

  • Instruction in L1.

  • Content-based instruction in L2 is provided.

  • Students are active learners.

  • Students’ language and culture are valued.

  • Interaction between ELL and English-only students occurs.

  • Bilingual education is an integral part of the school (and not just a tacked-on program).


Prereferral team impact

Prereferral Team Impact

  • 90-92% of cases brought to the referral team were eventually referred for an evaluation

  • 70-74% of those evaluated were found eligible for SPED.

  • 85% of referred Hispanic students were found eligible for SPED.


Top 10 reasons ell students referred for sped

Poor achievement

Behavioral problems

Oral language delays

Reading problems

Learning difficulties

Socio-emotional problems

Dx for particular disability condition

Written language

Poor attention span

Unable to follow or understand directions

Top 10 Reasons ELL students referred for SPED


Group assignment

Group Assignment

  • Look at the top 10 list again.

  • Discuss each of the ten reasons and describe how language acquisition may be a factor in each of these

  • Describe how you might assess or question to rule language acquisition out as the main problem (use the questions on form 5.1 as a guide).

  • Each group will present two of these from the list to the class.


So when do you refer

So, when do you refer?

  • First, make sure that you have comprehensive (more than one source) information on the student and the student’s problems.

  • Second, make sure that prereferral interventions are appropriate for this child’s cultural and linguistic needs.

  • Third, if you still question “is this 2nd language acquisition or is this a disability?” then a referral is probably appropriate.”


Group project1

Group Project

A Prereferral Team is meeting on a ten-year-old child who moved from Brazil when she was 7 years old. She has been in the same school the whole time.

What are some specific questions you would want to ask about this child prior to requesting an assessment?

What are some resources you might use to find out more about her culture and language? List at least three different resources.


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