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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
  • 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

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)
jim cummins model
Jim Cummins’ Model

Cognitively undemanding

1 3

Context- Context-

Embedded Reduced

2 4

Cognitively demanding

less demanding more demanding
Developing simple vocabulary

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 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: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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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




sample thematic unit plan
Sample Thematic Unit Plan

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

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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: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


  • 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
  • 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

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

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
  • 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 ThoughtsThe 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:

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
  • 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.