Instructional strategies for ELL classrooms Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:15
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Second language acquisition is different from learning ones first language. Second language learners have different instructional needs. As such teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs) must apply a distinct set of instructional strategies and techniques in order to aid students in their English language learning. A clear understanding of the instructional strategies that must be used in ELL classroom requires an analysis of the concept of second language acquisition. In order to be effective, teachers must consider the theory of second language acquisition and see to it that the principles of this theory are realized in his instruction.

Stephen Krashens theory of Second Language Acquisition provides hypotheses as to how learners learn a second language. One of such hypotheses is the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis. The hypothesis stated that there are two independent systems at work in second language performance, the acquired system and the learned system. According to Krashen (1988), the acquired system or acquisition is produced by a subconscious process. This process is very similar to a process that the learner underwent when he learned his first language. This system requires the learner to be immersed in the target language.

He must have meaningful interaction in the said language. According to Schutz (2007) the learner must engage in natural communication, In which speakers are concentrated not in the form of their utterances, but in the communicative act. The second system, the learned system is produced by formal instruction. Schutz (2007) states, It comprises a conscious process which results in conscious knowledge about the language, for example knowledge of grammar rules. This hypothesis tells language teachers to ensure that the learner engages himself in the target language in a natural way.

This requires communicative elements of instruction from the teacher. At the same time, the teacher must ensure that formal instruction is provided as well. It is this combination that enhances English language learning. The principles of this theory are reflected in the instructional strategies that have been developed for second language learning. Instructional practices that aim to make content more comprehensible for ELLs are called sheltered instruction. (Wallace, 2004) One model of sheltered instruction is called the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP).

The SIOP provides teachers with a lesson planning checklist. It contains thirty components that guide the teacher on how to go about the lesson. The SIOP is highly effective for it is based on research and has been field-tested. More importantly, the SIOP was not tailor made for any particular proficiency level or age group of English language learners. According to Wallace (2004), The thirty components of the SIOP lesson-planning checklist can be used with any curriculum or program, for students at any age or level of English proficiency.

Experienced teachers recognize the SIOP components as effective teaching strategies for all students. The SIOP has several components that aid English language teaching. One of this is comprehensible input. This component requires instructors to speak in a way that will meet the learners proficiency level. Also, the teacher must explain clearly the tasks involved. This involves a step-by-step discussion of the task. Visuals can also help the teacher explain better the task. Finally, Haynes (n. d) states that comprehensible input requires teachers to, Use of a variety of techniques to make content concepts clear.

The use of modeling, hands-on materials, demonstrations, and gestures are some of the techniques that a teacher can utilize in order to make the concepts clearer and more understandable for the students. The SIOP model also emphasizes the concept of building on the students backgrounds. What this means is that the teacher must attempt to link the concepts being taught to students experiences. Also, the teacher must try to relate the new concepts to what the students have learned previously. The clear explanation of key vocabulary must also be made.

The teacher must pinpoint the key terms that are vital to the students understanding of the most important concepts in the lesson. The explanations must be simple and demonstrations of the contextual use of the terms must be made. Using synonyms and cognates are also useful ways to convey the contextual meaning of the terms. Building vocabulary is essential in language teaching. According to Echevarria et al (2004), There is a strong correlation between vocabulary knowledge and student achievement. There are several strategies that a teacher can employ to help students build their vocabulary.

Vocabulary self-selection is one of these strategies. This strategy requires students to select on their own the vocabulary that they deem as essential to their understanding of the concepts of the lesson. This strategy allows students to choose the most appropriate key vocabulary. This strategy is highly effective for more advanced learners. For children, one way to build vocabulary is through the use of songs. Visuals can also aid vocabulary development. The concept definition map is one visual that provides a means by which complex concepts can be discussed and clarified.

Another important component of the SIOP is grouping. Peer instruction is highly effective. However, the teacher must ensure that he varies grouping structures. According to Echevarria et al (2004), Effective classes are characterized by a variety of grouping structures. Furthermore, in one day, at least two grouping structures must be utilized. (Echevarria et al, 2004) Varying grouping structures from day to day must be made for in order to keep students interested and to increase student involvement. Grouping configurations must be varied not only based on the structure but also based on the characteristics of students.

The groups must be heterogeneous in the sense that students in a group vary in terms of gender, language proficiency, and ability. This brings up the next valuable component of the SIOP model, student engagement. Students must be constantly engaged throughout the lesson. The students must remain active all throughout the lesson. The teacher must ensure that he talks far less than the students. Engaging the students can mean utilizing various activities. Grouping students, as earlier mentioned, increases student involvement. The teacher must provide various opportunities for the students to apply what they are being taught.

The must be involved in constant interaction either with their peers or with the teacher. When delivering the lesson, the teacher must see to it that students get to practice all the language skills, speaking, writing, listening, and reading. According to Bilingual and Compensatory Education Resource Team (2002), Effective teachers strive to provide a more balanced linguistic exchange between themselves and their students”ELL students need the practice in speaking. Furthermore, When students spend their time actively engaged in activities that relate strongly to the materials they will be tested on, they learn more of the material.

(Bilingual and Compensatory Education Resource Team, 2002) The importance of constant student engagement cannot be stressed enough. Teachers must always provide activities that promote student interaction and participation. Another important component of the SIOP model that is essential in English language teaching is feedback. Teachers must give students immediate feedback on their work. Immediate feedback from the teacher lets students know if they are on the right track. Feedback also allows teachers to clarify concepts and correct misconceptions of students.

Feedback can be given in a formal or informal manner. In correcting students works such as essays or exams, the teacher can write their feedback. They can identify the points that the students must work on. Also, teachers can provide informal feedback. Teachers can provide oral feedback and support this by facial expressions or body language. For instance, a nod from the teacher lets the student know that what he is doing is correct. A smile also lets the student know that he is doing well. A puzzled look lets the student know that something is not right with what he is saying or with what he is doing.

The ways by which feedback is given can depend on the age group and proficiency level of the class as well. For young students and beginners, oral feedback is more appropriate. At this age and level, students may find it hard to understand written feedback. For older and more advanced students, written feedback may be of more use since teachers will be able provide a more detailed and specific feedback. The SIOP model is one of the many approaches to second language teaching. It can cater to various ages and language groups. Using such model allows the teacher to adjust the lesson to the students level and age.

This model provides various strategies that can be used in ELL classrooms. Using the model, ELL teachers can provide better instruction that will lead to the development of their students English language skills.

References Bilingual and Compensatory Education Resource Team. (2002).Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners”SIOP Model- SHELTERED INSTRUCTION” for Academic Achievement. Dearborn Public Schools. Retrieved 2 December 2007 from: http://www. misd. net/bilingual/ELL. pdf. Echevarria, J. , Vogt, M. , & Short, D.(2004) Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model (Second Edition).

Needham Hts. , MA: Allyn and Bacon. Krashen, S. (1988). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Prentice-Hall International. Schutz, R. (2007). Stephen Krashens Theory of Second Language Acquisition. English Made in Brazil. Retrieved 2 December 2007 from: http://www. sk. com. br/sk-krash. html. Wallace, S. (2004). Effective Instructional Strategies for English Language Learners in Mainstream Classrooms. New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved 2 December 2007 from: http://www. newhorizons. org/spneeds/ell/wallace. htm.

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