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What are some of the obstacles?. Is there a language learning disability that is specific to additional language acquisition? The unique obstacles created by the English orthography (writing system). What are some of the challenges?.

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what are some of the obstacles
What are some of the obstacles?
  • Is there a language learning disability that is specific to additional language acquisition?
  • The unique obstacles created by the English orthography (writing system).

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

what are some of the challenges
What are some of the challenges?
  • Identifying potential students who will have difficulties acquiring EAL.
  • Facilitating English acquisition for students that appear on the middle to weak side of the language continuum.
  • Finding suitable intervention models for different schools.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Language aptitude continuum: a 4th grade class (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying English in 3rd grade

3 English speaking students – either 1 or 2 English speaking parents or spent 3 years abroad

8 students - average L1 skills & lacking motivation

4 students - diagnosed LD including 1 with a communication based disorder and 2 bilinguals.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Is there such a thing as a learning disability in an additional language if we have no evidence for it in L1? ORIs failure in English a result of a discrete language learning difficulty?

  • May be other reasons - Spolsky’s conditions (1989)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Social Context

provides

leads to

Attitudes

which appear in the learner as

Motivation

Which joins with other personal characteristics such as

Age

Personality

Capabilities

Previous

Knowledge

All of which explain the use the learner makes of the available

Learning opportunities-formal or informal

The interplay between learner & situation determining

1

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

Linguistic & Non-linguistic outcomes for the learner

connections between l1 hebrew or arabic and additional language learning english
connections between L1 (Hebrew or Arabic) and additional language learning (English)

If we focus on language capabilities we need to examine:

Linguistic Coding Differences Hypothesis (Sparks & Ganschow, 1991; 1993)

2

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Connection between L1 & additional language learning

Foreign (Additional) Language

(e.g. English)

First Language (Hebrew, Arabic)

(phonological, orthographic, semantic,

morphological codes)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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The above theory accounts for students with specific language difficulties which are measured in L1 but which express themselves in any new language acquired.

We will now discuss another obstacle that all students acquiring English literacy have to deal with but this obstacle becomes particularly ominous for students on the weaker side of the language continuum…

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

learning to read spell different writing systems
Learning to read & spell different writing systems

3

  • Shallow (transparent) orthography – Direct relationship between sounds and symbols. For example: Voweled Hebrew and Arabic. Readers can go directly from spelling to sound without referring to meaning in order to identify the word.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

english is an example of a deep orthography
English is an example of a deep orthography
  • Deep (opaque) orthography – More complex relationship between pronunciation and letters. Various different processing strategies are used to deal with the complex relations between print and pronunciation. For example: knowledge of orthographic conventions or “knowing your neighbors” (silent e, c s before e, i or y), morphological knowledge sign, signature.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

implications of english orthographic peculiarities
Implications of English orthographic peculiarities
  • When comparing elementary school children in 12 European countries who were acquiring L1 reading and writing Seymour, Aro, & Erskine (2004) found that English speaking children were 2 years behind the other European groups (after controlling for teaching methods and age of starting school).

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

years of reading instruction required to achieve familiar word recognition
Years of reading instruction required to achieve familiar word recognition:

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

how deviant is the english writing system spencer 2000
How deviant is the English writing system? (Spencer, 2000)
  • PhR (Phoneme Representation) – representation of a phoneme as a proportion of all representations of that phoneme. This shows significant correlations with spelling performance.

Single representation of a phoneme

All representations of that phoneme

e.g. e = 1 =

ea, ee, e-e, e, ei, ie, -y, ey 8 .125 (the closer to 1, the simpler the phoneme representation)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Examples of phoneme representation values for English reading and spelling acquisition (Spencer, 2000)

  • long a: a (nature), ay (day), a-e (cake), ai (rain), eigh (eight), ea (great) – 1/6
  • long e: e, ee, e-e, ea, ei, ie (thief), -y, ey – 1/8
  • long i: i-e, y-e, -y, igh, i, ie – 1/6
  • long o: o, o-e, oa, ow, oe – 1/5
  • long u: u, u-e, ew, eu (Europe), ue – 1/5
  • ou: ou, ow – ½
  • au: au, aw, augh, ough – ¼

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Only 4 years after the beginning of literacy acquisition were the majority of this sample of students [without LLD] reading “try” correctly (Pilot study on 180 students: Kahn-Horwitz & Goldstein, 2008)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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“aw” in a decontextualised word turns out to be even more challenging for students without LLD (Kahn-Horwitz & Goldstein, 2008)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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“Children using English as an educational medium will be disadvantaged; dyslexic children will be greatly disadvantaged;and the most disadvantaged group of all may be dyslexic children for whom English is an additional language.” Spencer, 2000.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

who are the students we are talking about
Who are the students we are talking about?
  • Diagnosed (less so in elementary school, from JH this changes, differences between socio-economic areas)
  • Undiagnosed – any student who for whatever reason isn’t succeeding in acquiring English.
  • The continuum – we need to pay attention to the weak to average side of the continuum.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Individual differences between high & low achievers, LD and ADHD L2 learnersSparks, Humbach & Javorsky, (2008). Learning and Individual Differences

  • 156 - L1 English speaking high school students studying L2 Spanish.
  • Sparks and colleagues obtained L1 English elementary school grades for these students.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

4 groups
4 groups

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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Language aptitude continuum: a 4th grade class (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying English in 3rd grade

3 English speaking students – either 1 or 2 English speaking parents or spent 3 years abroad

8 students - average L1 skills & lacking motivation

4 students - diagnosed LD including 1 with a communication based disorder and 2 bilinguals.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

results for spanish proficiency tests classroom tests lower level literacy tasks
Results for Spanish proficiency tests, classroom tests, lower level literacy tasks
  • HA students performed significantly better than LA and LD students.
  • Students who achieved higher scores in English L1 reading and writing in 4th grade achieved significantly higher scores on Spanish L2 measures several years later.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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ADHD students scored similar results to the HA students on the Spanish proficiency test as well as the Spanish lower level literacy tasks.

  • In other words, students with ADHD who do not have L1 difficulties may do well in L2 studies.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

fl grade results
FL grade results
  • In spite of the above, HA students received higher L2 final grades as opposed to ADHD students.
  • The LA and LD groups received similar grades over 2 years of L2 study. Many of them failed the final L2 proficiency test. Many of these students passed quizzes and received grades for home-work and participation but could not read, write, speak or comprehend the L2 at an acceptable level.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

sparks humbach javorsky conclude
Sparks, Humbach & Javorsky conclude:

“Rather than relying on a student’s diagnosis (or lack of diagnosis) as LD (or ADHD), educators should investigate whether students with L2 learning problems have a history of or current difficulties with L1 skills and then focus on the best method(s) for teaching the language skills involved in L2 learning to those students.” (p. 41)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

can a student with l1 difficulties medium to severe acquire an additional language
Can a student with L1 difficulties (medium to severe) acquire an additional language?
  • The ideal situation: the case of N. (currently in 7th grade)
  • Simmons case (Annals of Dyslexia, 2000)
  • M. teaching English in a school for students with severe emotional difficulties (what a successful experience with English can do for individuals on the lower to average side of the continuum)

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

slide28
Implementing EAL instruction for students with learning difficulties can take place in numerous settings:

1. On a one to one basis (which is often considered a luxury possible only in private clinical settings).2. In smaller or larger relatively homogenous groups which may take place in various “pull out” frameworks.3. Within the framework of a relatively homogenous class of weaker students.4. Within the framework of an entire heterogeneous class.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

the need to learn from one another
The need to learn from one another:
  • Some years ago Ellen Hoffenberg Sarfati documented her experience teaching weak high school EAL studentshttp://www.etni.org.il/etninews/ldart.htm
  • Tova Teitelbaum (2000) reported on an intervention implemented in an elementary school which appeared in the ETAI Forum English Teachers’ Journal.
  • Secemski, Deutsch, & Adoram, (2000). Structured multisensory teaching for second language learning in Israel. In L. Peer & G. Reid (Eds.), Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia: A Challenge for Educators (pp. 235-242). London: David Fulton.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

the need to learn from one another1
The need to learn from one another:
  • Today was a perfect example of this. ETAI provided the framework.
  • And currently, the ETAI Forum (the official journal of the English Teacher’s Association of Israel) which will be published in the next few weeks will be a special LD edition with some documentation of successful intervention experiences.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

finally optimal policy should consider
Finally, optimal policy should consider:
  • early diagnosis and intervention (OfekHadash?)
  • professional on every school staff to facilitate the above
  • sound literacy instruction in the elementary school grades (window of opportunity) in a way that maximizes the chances of the majority.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

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We all need to continue relating very seriously to ways of overcoming obstacles and dealing with the challenges facing the significant percentage of weak to average L1 students who experience extraordinary difficulties in acquiring and progressing in English as an additional language.There are no magic recipes which will enable these students to become linguistically proficient but through thorough, direct, structured instruction we can facilitate an empowering English experience which will improve their understanding of English and their feelings about themselves.

ETAI Spring Conference 2009

slide33

Thank you for your attention!

horwitz@netvision.net.il

ETAI Spring Conference 2009