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Powerful EL instruction and curriculum for preschool, kindergarten and transitional K. Findings and implications from the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) pilot. Laurie Olsen, Ph.D. Accountability Institute December 2011. English Learners.

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Powerful EL instruction and curriculum for preschool, kindergarten and transitional K


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    1. Powerful EL instruction and curriculum for preschool, kindergarten and transitional K Findings and implications from the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) pilot Laurie Olsen, Ph.D. Accountability Institute December 2011

    2. English Learners “There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers and curriculum…for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education…” Lau v. Nichols, Supreme Court

    3. GAP has increased 2002-2010 CST ELA % Proficient and aboveEnglish Only: English Learners 33.4% gap -------------------------- 37.2% gap

    4. Percent of LEAS meeting AMAOs

    5. Across all districts59% of secondary school ELs are long term(103,635 in sample) LTELs Other ELLs

    6. Long Term English Learners are created…….. Long Term EL

    7. El Monte school districts Commitment #2: Full Proficiency English Learners will develop within six years of continuous enrollment full receptive and productive proficiencies in English in the domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing – consistent with expectations for all students.

    8. Annual Expectations for English Learners

    9. Schooling History: weak or no language support • 75% spent 2+ years with “no services” or mainstream • Increase in “mainstream” placement • One in ten with ELD only • One in twenty (5%) receive primary language programs or instruction at some point • Just over half are in structured English immersion, ELD/SDAIE

    10. Comparison between EL groups over time

    11. Other contributing factors • Inconsistent program placements • Inconsistent implementation within programs • Narrowed curriculum  academic gaps & lack of academic language • Social segregation and linguistic isolation • Transnational moves – transnational schooling

    12. By middle school, they have distinct language issues • High functioning in social situations in both languages – but limited vocabulary in both • Prefer English – are increasingly weak in their home language • Weak academic language – with gaps in reading and writing skills • Are stuck in progressing towards English proficiency

    13. The profile of where LTELs are “stuck” differs • Most remain at CELDT III or below • Many, however, appear to reach CELDT proficiency but score low enough on CST or receive failing grades that prevent redesignation

    14. Typical profile • Learned passivity, non-engagement, underlying discomfort in classes • Don’t ask questions or ask for help • Tend not to complete homework or understand the steps needed to complete assignments • Not readers • Typically desire to go to college – high hopes and dreams but unaware of pathway to those dreams • Do not know they are doing poorly academically – think they are English fluent

    15. Academic Gaps develop • Several grade levels below actual grade level in both English and L1 • Cumulative high school GPA is very low (D+ average) • More than one in five have F averages • Grade retention frequent • Gaps in academic background

    16. The continuum: learning English as a second language  _______________________________________________________________________ Proficient for Academic work No English

    17. So far…to prevent the creation of LTELs • Clearly defined EL program models (ELD plus access), consistently implemented • Consistency in placement and EL language approach (no ping-pong) • Importance of full curriculum • Strategies that promote student engagement as active learners • Importance of scaffolding instruction

    18. New generation of research • National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth • California Department of Education: Research-based Practices for English Language Learners (commissioned papers) • Body of literature on early brain development in dual language learners, linguistic and educational research on early childhood education

    19. #1: Early childhood education makes a difference • Early years of development (cognitive, linguistic, social) are crucial • Quality preschool lays the foundation for better outcomes for children once they enter kindergarten • Preschool reduces disparities and longstanding achievement gaps between groups

    20. So….. • Begin with preschool programs • Active outreach/recruitment to English Learner communities • Attention to supporting the transition from preschool into kindergarten • Articulation, alignment between the two systems (preschool and K-12)

    21. #2: Importance of rich oral language development in young children • Producing language encourages learners to process language more deeply than when just listening or receptive. • Verbal interaction is essential in the construction of knowledge • Oral language is the bridge to academic language associated with school and the development of literacy --

    22. Oral language is foundational • The vocabulary of a young child (preschool and kinder) is predictive of language skills at age 9 and reading comprehension • Trends in the amount of talk, vocabulary growth and systems of interaction using language is well-established in the years 0 – 6 • Oral language is the foundation for literacy and is a crucial part of a strong language program for English Learners

    23. National Literacy Panel finding • Oral language development and proficiency is critical to literacy… and is often (and increasingly) overlooked in instruction • It is not enough to teach reading skills alone to language minority students; extensive oral English development must be incorporated into successful literacy instruction • Oral proficiency and literacy in the first language facilitates literacy development in English

    24. ……. on oral language • Producing language encourages learners to process language more deeply than when just listening or receptive. • Verbal interaction is essential in the construction of knowledge • Oral language is the bridge to academic language associated with school and the development of literacy

    25. Implications ….in primary grades • Amount, degree and TYPE of oral interaction is a big factor for children • Important to stimulate the talk that allows language learners to explore and clarify concepts, name their world, wonder and describe They have to be talking! The most powerful “early literacy” development is ORAL LANGUAGE!

    26. So…… • Multiple and frequent structured opportunities for children to be engaged in producing oral language should be features of elementary classroom instruction • Look for the amount, type and quality of student talk that is generated as the mark of good instruction • Emphasize vocabulary development • Model rich, expressive, amplified oral language

    27. #3: Academic Language is essential • “Academic language” is different from social language, is discipline specific and takes longer to develop • Academic language and literacy for ELs develops most powerfully where background knowledge is also being built • Learning a second language for academic success requires explicit language development across the curriculum (ELD alone is not sufficient)

    28. Language development is much more than literacy development – English Learners need LANGUAGE Literacy Skills Communication Knowledge Development & concept codification Language Socio-emotional expression and relationships

    29. So……. • Identify key academic vocabulary and discourse patterns – and explicitly teach them • Monitor the rigor and complexity of the language used in text and instruction • Set a high bar for sophisticated, complex, precise language in both social and academic domains

    30. #4. Language develops in context • Young children develop language through play, interaction, listening, experimenting - in the context of going about their lives - facilitated in an enriched and interactiveenvironment • An enriched environment is particularly important for stimulating language development in context • Much of the early literacy curriculum is decontextualized “language arts” - phonics, letter-of-the-week. “Play” is increasingly disappearing from preschool and primary grades

    31. Academic language develops in context • Academic language develops in the context of learning academic subjects. A strong EL program infuses intentional language development throughout the entire curriculum. • For young children, science and social studies are particularly powerful arenas for the development of complex academic language

    32. So…… • Dramatic play and exploratory play opportunities in the preschool and kindergarten classrooms – tied to content • Attention to the classroom environment • Intentional language development across the curriculum • Full curriculum – including rich science and social studies

    33. The continuum: learning English as a second language #5: To access the curriculum, English Learners need specially designed instruction      _______________________________________________________________________ Age/grade level Proficient No English Predictable, sequential steps…….

    34. National Literacy Panel finding • “Instructional approaches effective with native English speakers do not have as positive a learning impact on language minority students” • “Instruction in the key components of reading is necessary - but not sufficient - for teaching language minority students to read and write proficiently in English” Implications: If the same strategies are being used for all students, the gap will grow; specially designed instruction is important. Interventions for English fluent students are not as effective for English Learners

    35. SDAIE works when…… • Students have reached an Intermediate level (and above) • Materials are designed for maximum contextual cues, etc. • Teachers understand which strategies are meant for which levels of proficiency • Students are grouped by level • Instruction is paced appropriately - and key power standards focused upon

    36. Specially designed v.s. mainstream • By middle and high school, ELs who have had specialized instruction (particularly L1 instruction), are more likely to score at grade level, less likely to drop out of high school, often catch up to and sometimes surpass (L1) comparison peers • ELs in mainstream English-taught classes are the lowest achievers in comparison to students in any other program

    37. What kinds of things go beyond “just good teaching”? • Language objectives in addition to content objectives • Vocabulary (and language features) commonly known by native speakers - introduced, emphasized, repeated, practiced • Speech appropriate for English proficiency level • Wait time to process language • L1 clarification - can use the L1 foundation • Pacing of lesson accounts for EL proficiency • Feedback on language use

    38. So…… • Language objectives for content lessons based on analyzing the linguistic demands of the content • Identify key academic vocabulary and discourse patterns and explicitly teach them • Professional development related to making content accessible to English Learners • Home language support • Home language instruction when possible

    39. #6: ELD instruction can advance knowledge and use of English • Sequential, predictable steps along continuum from no English to English proficiency • Carefully planned, dedicated ELD instruction facilitates and accelerates movement towards proficiency • ELD instruction should emphasize listening and speaking, explicitly teach elements of English • ELD instruction should continue at least through Early Advanced levels of proficiency

    40. #7: Development of the home language is crucial • A child’s home language is a crucial foundation for social interactions, cognitive development, learning about her world, and emerging literacy • Language of the home is vehicle for making and establishing meaningful communication and relationships • Language is a socio-emotional and cultural phenomenon - key to identity formation • By preschool, the home language is well established

    41. Development of the home language occurs in a small minority of early care settings, preschools and early education • Children in English immersion ECE tend to lose ability to communicate in L1, frequently develop communication problems with extended families and experience depressed academic achievement in English • The best foundation for literacy is a rich foundation in language - not necessarily in English, but in the language strongest for the child and his or her family.

    42. Children have more extended and complex vocabulary and language skills if their home language is developed • 1st and 2nd language are interdependent - and they transfer; instruction in the first language facilitates proficiency in English. • English Learners make more academic progress when they have the opportunity to learn in both their home language and English • Systematic, deliberate exposure to English + ongoing development of L1 = highest achievement in both languages by end of 3rd grade and beyond.

    43. Link between L1 reading ability and L2 reading ability is the most direct cross-linguistic relationship • Effects of L2 literacy are long-lasting and extend to performance on 8th grade assessments

    44. “The research indicates that instructional programs work when they provide opportunities for students to develop proficiency in their first language. Studies that compare bilingual instruction with English only instruction demonstrate that language minority students instructed in their native language as well as in English perform better, on average, on measures of English reading proficiency than language-minority students instructed only in English.” National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth

    45. So…… • Home language instruction and development whenever possible to high levels of proficiency • Transfer focus and contrastive analysis • Parent education about the crucial role of developing the home language and what can be done at home to support that

    46. #8: There are benefits to bilingualism • Bilingual children perform better than monolinguals on select cognitive tasks (brain benefits) • There are social and economic benefits to mastery of two or more languages – particularly in this 21st century.

    47. Yet myths and misunderstandings persist.. • Learning two languages will confuse children and lead to delays or disorders. With less exposure to each language, neither will become developed fully - and they will not attain proficiency equal to monolingual children in either language • If we want them to master English, the sooner and more fully they are immersed in English, the better. • They don’t really have much development in either language, so it might as well be English we focus on at school

    48. Development of the home language is a family responsibility. Schools should just focus on English. • Home language holds students back • Good teaching and standards-based curriculum work for all students and are sufficient for ELLs • English is the most important subject for ELLs – the more hours, the better

    49. Action Steps  • Know the research • Determine which aspects of the research are most important to make known at this point in to order to clarify myths/misconceptions that may be in the way of delivering a strong EL research-based program