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Literacy Success for English Language Learners in Elementary Schools. Dr. Gilda Del Risco Kean University of New Jersey October 27, 2004.

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literacy success for english language learners in elementary schools
Literacy Success for English Language Learners in Elementary Schools

Dr. Gilda Del Risco

Kean University of New Jersey

October 27, 2004

professional development and in class co teaching
“Probably nothing within a school has more impact on children, in terms of skills development, self-confidence, and classroom behavior, than the personal and professional growth of teachers. When teachers individually and collectively examine, question, reflect on their ideals, and develop new practices that lead toward those ideals, the school and its inhabitants are alive. When teachers stop growing, so do their students.”

By Roland Barth

Professional Development andIn Class Co-Teaching
many english language learners
Many English Language Learners:
  • Come from countries where they have received less than age appropriate education.
  • Some are illiterate in their native language.
  • Some have never attended school.
  • School has been interrupted by war or political reasons.
sheltered instruction
“The term sheltered indicates that such instruction provides refuge from the linguistic demands of mainstream instruction, which is beyond the comprehension of English-language learners.” (Echevarria & Graves 1998).Sheltered Instruction
Make your instructional talk more understandable by speaking clearly.

Repeat key points

Define essential vocabulary in context

Pair your talk with nonverbal communication cues:

objects, pictures, graphs, and gestures.

Meaning is to be conveyed directly in the target language through the use of demonstration and visuals.
Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • When we pair these two communication channels, words and meanings become discernible to the learner.
  • Try to make the information relevant to their lives - Learning occurs best when connections are made to existing knowledge.
  • Make the students a part of the situation.
  • Acknowledge their input – Positive feedback is a powerful influence on the brain’s chemistry. It is essential for the development of a good self-concept (Sylwester 1997).
comprehensible input
Comprehensible Input
  • Language that is used in ways that make it understandable to the learner even though second language proficiency is still limited.
    • use visuals, realia, manipulatives, and other concrete materials
    • use gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
    • repeat, rephrase, and/or paraphrase key concepts, directions, etc.
    • build on what students already know.
    • be careful of idioms and slang.
strategies to promote early literacy
Creating a literacy-rich classroom environment.

Books, books, books…

Daily routines:

-morning message

-wall dictionary

Reading aloud to students

Word Families

Strategies to Promote Early Literacy
r eading in a second language
  • Classroom strategies for beginning readers:
    • Language-experience approach
    • Literacy Centers
    • Patterned books
    • Illustrating stories and poems
    • Shared reading with big books
    • Direct Listening-Thinking Activity (DL-TA)
    • Reader’s theater
    • Story map

(NJCCS 3.1)

reading in a second language
  • Classroom strategies for intermediate readers:
    • Cognitive mapping
    • Direct Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) (Fluency)
    • Literature response journals
    • Developing scripts for reader’s theater. (Fluency)
    • Adapting Stories into plays and scripts for film and videotape.)
    • Literacy Centers

(NJCCCS 3.1)

Phonemic Awareness

Recognizing that speech is made up of a

series of sounds that can be manipulated.

It Is not Phonics


Is a means to decode printed word made up of

sounds and is built on the child’s ability to

understand Phonemic Awareness.

Phonemic Awareness Preceds Phonics.

(Rothman Barbara. BER)

(NJCCCS 3.1)

phonics instruction for english language learners
The purpose of phonic instruction is to help students recognize words independently, not to have them state rules.


-Provide ample time for students to read and write for meaningful purposes, allowing. students to develop their own understanding of sound/symbol correspondences

-Teach phonics within a meaningful context. Enjoy the story or poem for meaning first, then teach the skill.

-Remember that phonics and other word recognition strategies are a means to an end: comprehension.

(NJCCCS 3.1) (Peregoy and Boyle, 2000)

Phonics Instruction for English Language Learners
recognizing words independently
Using big books to teach sight words and phonics

Poems and song lyrics written in large format on chart paper

(to develop word recognition and phonics knowledge)

Predictable books with repetitive patterns and phrases to teach or reinforce sound/symbol correspondences, including consonants, vowels, and letter sequences found in rhyming words.

Ask the students to write their own stories following the pattern in predictable books that they have heard several times. This will provide a chance for the students to put their phonics and sight word knowledge into meaningful practice.

Older students who are new to literacy – Same strategies. Short texts with age-appropriate content. Fortunately by Remy Charlip.

Song lyrics and poems – Good sources of predictable texts. (NJCCCS 3.1)

Recognizing Words Independently
first language
First Language
  • “During the initial years of exposure to English, continuing cognitive and academic development in first language is considered to be a key variable for academic success in second language.”
  • (Garcia 1994; Tinajero & Ada, 1993. In Collier, 1995)
  • Later on, apply the techniques used to teach English as a second language.

Yo quiero escribir en mi idioma.

writing in a second language
Strategies to assist beginning writers:

Oral discussion

Partner stories using pictures and wordless books

Personal journals

Dialogue journals

Buddy journals

Free writing (NJCCCS 3.2)

Writing in a Second Language
strategies to assist intermediate writers
Strategies to assist intermediate writers
  • Show and not tell - Provides descriptive details about what the writer wants to convey.
  • Sentence combining
  • Sentence shortening
  • Sentence models
  • Process Writing:





-Publishing (NJCCCS 3.2)

initial strategies to teach english comprehension to english language learners
Pre-reading Strategies

Background Knowledge

Necessary to


meaningfrom text.

Development of key vocabulary

Background Knowledge – Teacher builds upon the language, culture and experiential background that students bring to the classroom and relate knowledge to new information provided in the text.

(NJCCCS 3.1)

Initial Strategies to Teach English Comprehension to English language Learners
Students may experience difficulties due to lack of prior knowledge on the particular topic to be read.

Background knowledge can often be accomplished through a sharing of the groups’ knowledge.

It may be recorded in a graphic format.

guided reading strategies
Use questions before and during the reading to help the students to get meaning from the reading.

Hypothesizing or predicting questions. What do you think this story is about? What do you think will happen next?

Data acquisition questions

Summary questions

Reading aloud – Teacher model predicting, inferring, and connecting mew text to prior knowledge.

(NJCCC 3.1)

Guided Reading Strategies
post reading strategies
Retelling a story after reading

- Offers a means for reinforcing and

supporting comprehension.

- Provides a means for integrating writing into

the program. It can be done in cooperative

learning groups, paired writing, or individually.

Building on the knowledge gained through the prereading activities.

More reading (NJCCCS 3.1)

Post-Reading Strategies
at risk students
Remedial classes and pullout programs have been found to slow down learning

Accelerated Learning

- Focus on enrichment rather than remediation.

- Building on the strength that all students bring

to the classroom.

- Draw on students experiences and interest.

At – Risk Students
Language Experience Approach

- discussion bases on the content of the text

- review vocabulary found in the reading

- students summarize the reading or story

for the teacher, who acts as a scribe and

writes sentences on the board or chart


(NJCCCS 3.1, 3.2)

  • Teacher should take into consideration:
    • The student’s English language developmental level
    • The prevalence of the error type
    • The importance of the error type for communication
    • Teacher’s specific goals for the students in terms of English language development
    • Should be corrected in a non-threatening way
    • Repeat correctly what the student has said incorrectly
Portfolio Assessment

Multiple Measures for Assessment

- Do not assess only through written tests.

If you do not assess the English language

learners in many different ways, you will

not find out what they really know.


- Anecdotal records

- Check lists

- Concrete materials. Opportunities to

demonstrate that they understood the


Echevarria, J. and Graves, Anne. (1998). Sheltered Content Instruction Teaching English-Language Learners with Diverse Abilities. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Friedlander, M. (1991). The Newcomer Program: Helping Immigrant Students Succeed in U. S. Schools.

Carrasquillo A. and Rodriguez V. (2002). Language Minority Students in the Toronto: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Coolier, V. (1995). Promoting academic success for ESL students. NJTESOL/NJBE

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Krashen, S., and Terrell, T. (1983). The Natural Approach. Hayward: The Alemany Press.

Peregoy, S. F. and Boyle, O. F. (2000). Reading, Writing, and Learning in ESL. New York: Longman.

Rothman, B. Practical phonics strategies to build beginning reading and writing skills. BER.

Sternberg, R. J. (1994). Allowing for Thinking Styles. Educational Leadership 52, 3.

Sylwester, R. (1997). The Neurobiology of Self-Esteem and Aggression. Educational Leadership 54 (5), 75-79.

Tomlinson, C. A. The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners. ASCD.

Willis, S. and Mann, L. (2000). Differentiating Instruction. In Curriculum by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Weinberger, S. (1992). Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.