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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

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many languages many learners one world
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

common themes
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)

cognitive load
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
cultural load
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)
cultural load5
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
language load
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
learning load
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)
what do schools need to do in order to help english language learners
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
turn frustration into success for language learners
Turn Frustration into Success for Language 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
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition12
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition13
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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)
strategies for language acquisition14
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition15
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition16
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition17
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
strategies for language acquisition18
Strategies for Language Acquisition
  • 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
additional considerations
Additional Considerations
  • 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
curriculum instruction
Curriculum & Instruction

Wayne Craven

Program Specialist


Georgia Department of Education

404 463 1858

title iii consortium
Title III Consortium

Carol Johnson

Education Research and Evaluation Specialist

Title III Consortium Monitoring

Innovative Academic Programs Division

Georgia Department of Education

678 794 3695