Teaching Teachers WELL Faculty Institute 2009 Strategies for Teaching ELLs
A sampling of strategies for… • Teaching pronunciation • Teaching vocabulary • Teaching students who are still in the Silent Period
Pronunciation • Two types of issues involving pronunciation • Problems that interfere with understanding • Problems that don’t interfere with understanding
Pronunciation • Ability to pronounce content vocabulary affects confidence and therefore the student’s willingness to participate in class • Pronunciation work is valuable for all Ss, even NESs For info on speakers of specific languages, see: Swan, M., & Smith, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learner English: A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Some pronunciation issues • Vowels and consonants (multiple sounds for a single letter and even for a unique combination of letters) • ex: cat vs city • ex: gender vs gap • ex: shook vs tooth • Long vowels and short vowels are actually totally different sounds • ex: The polish vs The Polish • ex: bow (for a boat) vs bow (after a performance) • ex: dove vs dove • Intonation and pitch • ex: I don’t care to… • ex: produce vs produce • ex: object vs object
Some pronunciation issues • Consonants in final position • These sounds are dropped in some languages • ex: -ing, -ed • Consonant combinations • Compare churchvsmachine vschemistry • Sounds in English that don’t even exist in other languages • th- in the or thumb
Can we fix it? Well, maybe…at least we can try. Brainstorm at least 3 things you think you could do…
Working on Pronunciation • Teacher repeats, modeling correct pronunciation • Pronunciation drill/choral practice
Working on Pronunciation • Break complex words into syllables to focus on sounds; blend together at different paces until more appropriate sound (including intonation and rhythm) is attained • Individual, private work, one-on-one • Use audiotape to let student hear their own sounds
Vocabulary • The need for preteaching… • Words provide anchors and context • Hearing words in isolation helps the ELL “locate” them within longer passages
Preteaching Vocabulary • Include phrases or even sentence patterns as appropriate for your content area. • Ex: geometric proof language (If,…then), therefore, as a result, so, and vs. or • Point out “false friends” (false cognates). • Ex (Sp.) : embarassada = pregnant; caravana = traffic jam (Ger.): Sympathie = liking (not condolences)
Preteaching Vocabulary (cont’d) • Idiomatic expressions • ex: Out of the blue, once in a blue moon, single file, hold your horses, etc. • Conger (2006). Between the lines. Idioms. Greenville, SC: Superduper. • Phrasal verbs • ex: Apply to/for • ex: take with/from/away/away from/over/along/up/ place/part
Preteaching Vocabulary • Multiple meanings (esp. content area specific vs. everyday use) • ex: table, square, right,
Preteaching Vocabulary How do we do it? Brainstorm at least 3 things you think you could do…
Vocabulary Strategies • Check text for: • False cognates • Words with multiple meanings • Phrasal verbs • Idiomatic expressions
Vocabulary Strategies • Words and phrases specific to content area • Use of words in noun form, for ex., rather than verb or another more common usage (run, strike) • Essential conjunctions (cause/effect, contrast, chronological/sequence, etc.)
Vocabulary Strategies • Provide visuals (still or moving) • If moving, any accompanying audio should reflect directly the image seen • Use gestures and/or demonstrations • Hands-on activities with extensive use of the new vocabulary
Vocabulary Strategies • Provide active repetition practice (for pronunciation purposes as well as use of the new/difficult/focus vocabulary in context) • Compare/contrast the various meanings of multiple meaning words • ex: table, cable, acute, obtuse, plot, meter, etc.
Vocabulary Strategies • Break words into prefix/root/suffix to teach meaning • Ehrlich, I. (2003). Instant vocabulary. NY: Penguin Books. • Compare and contrast similarly spelled words that have different meanings • Phythian, B. A. (1989). A concise dictionary of confusables. Kent, U.K.: Hodder & Soughton.
Silent Period • Students comprehend, but do not produce language (they do not speak or write) • Also true for parents and any newcomer • Length of time varies in part according to educational background
Silent Period Issues • How do we know if content is understood? • How do we ensure that learning is taking place? • How do we lower the affective filter to encourage eventual speech/writing and general participation?
Silent Period How do we know if learning is taking place? • Brainstorm at least 2 ways you could know whether the ELL is learning… • Brainstorm at least 2 ways you think you could help to lower the affective filter… • (Remember that you should not force language production during this period)
Silent Period Strategies Teacher: • Repetition is key (same phrase, simple structures—not variations) • Support oral language with gestures and/or visuals Students: • Illustrate or gesture a response • Point to a visual
Silent Period Strategies • Choose from a set of cards or words or other realia • TPR—raise hand, thumbs up, raise card or white board with symbol, move to location in room • Modify assessments to incorporate these strategies