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Many Languages, Many Learners, One World Effective Education: Engaging At-Risk English Language Learners Carol Johnson Education Research and Evaluation Specialist Title III Consortium Monitoring Innovative Academic Programs Georgia Department of Education [email protected]

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Many Languages, Many Learners, One World

Effective Education: Engaging

At-Risk English Language Learners

Carol Johnson

Education Research and Evaluation Specialist

Title III Consortium Monitoring

Innovative Academic Programs

Georgia Department of Education

[email protected]


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Common Themes

  • Students face four major barriers to academic success:

    • Cultural Load

    • Cognitive Load

    • Language Load

    • Learning Load

      (Barriers to Meaningful Instruction for ELLs, Meyer, 2000)


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Cognitive Load

  • The number of new concepts embedded in a lesson

  • Identify the concepts and skills the student does not possess

  • Fill in the conceptual gaps, relating to background knowledge and prior experiences


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Cultural Load

  • Language and culture are inter-related

  • A certain amount of cultural knowledge is required to comprehend meaning or to participate meaningfully in an activity

  • Students need to learn the English words as well as the cultural background that gives the word its meaning (i.e. learn the words in context)


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Cultural Load

  • Influences the teacher’s expectations of interaction in the classroom

  • Respect for the student’s culture and building a personal relationship with the student allow the teacher to develop lessons that will enable the student to learn American culture while continuing to respect the student’s native culture


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Language Load

  • The number of unfamiliar words encountered as the student reads a text or listens to the teacher talk

  • Teacher should preview and highlight academic vocabulary before beginning the lesson

  • Break complex sentences into smaller segments for increased comprehension

  • Use texts at different reading ability levels


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Learning Load

  • What teachers expect students to do with English during learning activities

  • Considerations for ELLs should include adaptations and support (differentiation) to allow participation in academic activities

  • Prepare the student (provide background information, vocabulary and ample time for comprehension)


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What do schools need to do in order to help English language learners?

  • Have high expectations for academic achievement of all students

  • Value the diversity of linguistic abilities

  • Provide outreach opportunities in the target language when appropriate

  • Use alternative assessments


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Turn Frustration into Success for Language Learners learners?

  • Plan from a base knowledge of second language acquisition

  • Develop a portfolio of best practices and proven strategies

  • Greater progress is made when strategies are consistently employed in the classroom on a daily basis


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Strategies learners?

  • While many of the following strategies are especially applicable for English language learners, the majority represent best practices that may be used for instruction of all students

  • The teacher must have a clear and concise understanding of a strategy before any attempt to employ it with students


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Create a classroom that promotes a safe learning environment, encouraging students to be risk takers without penalties

  • Model correct language without correcting a student’s speech

  • Praise and reinforce student efforts to use the language


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Listening is the last proficiency skill to fully develop so tasks always should be written to enhance student understanding

  • Check for comprehension of expectations, instructions and relevant vocabulary before students begin a task


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Utilize illustrations and graphic organizers to increase students’ understanding and repeat as necessary

  • Speak clearly and avoid using unfamiliar idiomatic expressions when giving directions for any task

  • Scaffold instructions (build vocabulary around the concepts of each lesson)


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Use multi-sensory instruction and hands-on activities

  • Differentiate instruction and activities to meet the needs of all students

  • Teacher modeling of the task will increase comprehension of the expectations

  • Provide collaborative experiences with new language concepts


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Employ good questioning techniques by asking the question, allowing ample wait time and then calling on a particular student to answer

  • Check for understanding of content with questions that require higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Students should be encouraged or required to use robust, strong vocabulary in oral class responses as often as possible

  • When possible relate new information and associated activities to the interests of the students and build on prior knowledge


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Teach and assess to reach the different levels of language proficiency in the class

  • Consider multiple intelligences when designing activities and assessments

  • Offer students choices among particular activities or tasks

  • Use a variety of alternative assessments to address the range of proficiency levels within a class


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Strategies for Language Acquisition learners?

  • Assess informally on an on-going basis

  • Offer choices of assessment tasks when viable

  • Both formal and informal assessments should include a variety of formats

  • Allow opportunities for reflection and self-assessment by the student


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Additional Considerations learners?

  • Encourage role play scenarios

  • Involve students in the development of activities and tasks, rubrics, and informal assessments

  • Encourage students to read non-fiction in their native languages to familiarize themselves with literary language


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Curriculum & Instruction learners?

Wayne Craven

Program Specialist

ESOL Title III

Georgia Department of Education

404 463 1858

[email protected]


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Title III Consortium learners?

Carol Johnson

Education Research and Evaluation Specialist

Title III Consortium Monitoring

Innovative Academic Programs Division

Georgia Department of Education

678 794 3695

[email protected]


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