Demographic changes in the U.S. have significant impact on the economic, social and political structures of the country. The education system of the United States has been influenced for a long time by the demographic trends, connected with the substantial increase in the number of ELL students, who study in the American educational institutions. Today instructors and administrators face new challenges due to the rapid demographics shift and improved accountability as a result of NCLB Initiative. According to the U.S. research, the number of students with limited English proficiency grew from 77% between the years 1999 and 2000. Although the number of English Language Learner in American schools increases, many administrator and educators are still not familiar with the appropriate teaching techniques, which would address the needs of those with limited language proficiency. This paper aims to explore and summarize the Instructional Strategies for ELL Classrooms. It also reveals the approaches to the improving language proficiency for ELL students, which would enable them to perform better in other subjects.
On state assessments ELL students score below the population average in the country. According to NCELA statistics, out of nearly 3,000,000 school teachers in public schools, who were surveyed by the NCES, forty one percent teaches students with limited English Proficiency. However, only twelve point five percent have received eight training hours or above. Many administrators have emphasized this lower gap in ELL and the insufficiency of training for effective ELL strategies’ implementation. ELL students are the fastest growing segment of the overall school-age population in the United States, which significantly contributed to almost doubling of the number of students from early 1980s to 2006. The fraction of ELL students in the United States raised from 6.8% of the total student population in 1995-1996 to 10.5 percent in 2005-2006.
According to the Docstoc.com (2010), English Language Learner students learn through understanding the information, conveyed by their instructors, rather than immerse into the language. This is completed by listening to the messages that are much higher than their current English level and attempting to understand them. Teachers can use this new approach for successful learning. It results in an increased language comprehension through the provision of new information and through linking new material to the existing knowledge of ELL students. Many ELL and ESL students consider math and reading similar to a foreign language, due to the fact that those consist of concepts and words, which do not fit into the everyday life experience. Successful teachers find ways to make concepts more effective, familiar and understandable by using the language, which all students are familiar with. (Docstoc.com. 2010)
The following issues should be considered in order to enable ELL students to improve their language proficiency and to give them an opportunity to score better in other subject areas.
- Comprehensive input
- Continuous, direct and explicit feedback
- Grouping methods and structures
- Vocabulary and background development
- Students’ involvement.
The comprehensive input is a component, which uses instructional practices to help teachers in making course contents more available and understandable for ELLs. It was first introduced by Stephen Kranshenin in 1981. According to the concept, input is considered comprehensible if English Language Learners understand the necessary materials, which promotes further comprehension. In order to ensure better communications with the students, administrators and educators should introduce better communication enhancement techniques. Thus, comprehensible instructions represent one of the techniques, which promotes the use of consistent language by the teachers. Instructors should not overload their vocabularies with complicated and narrowly-specialized terms, especially when introducing lexical items, which are hard to understand or pronounce. They should strictly limit the length of their presentations, used during the lectures (Patsalides, 2009).
Continuous, direct and explicit feedback
Students should be maximum engaged in communication process as well as given an opportunity to present their points of view. They should be exposed to a variety of cognitively demanding challenges, which require cooperative peer and learning tutoring strategies. Students are expected to ask questions, when a particular area is not clear for them as well as to participate in a dialogue. In ELL classroom setting, oral communication must prevail. Lastly, the best approach to ensuring comprehensible input is to give students the freedom of expressing their opinions and correcting their mistakes in a good and accurate way.
Teachers should be aware of the significance of providing students with continuous and specific feedback and assessment. ELL students should not consider a good job in the future to be the only reason for which they are studying. Specific feedback enables students to work extremely hard in those concepts that they think are hard and difficult. Feedback should only be given on the meaning and not on the grammatical errors of the students in order to ensure learning process. Through frequent understanding monitoring, teachers can adjust instructions and ensure that goals are being reached. One can test understanding by studying oral and body language as well as the written answers to the instruction and questions.
Frequent communication between ELL students, their peers and the teachers should be focused and meaningful. Peer partner checks of understanding improves both students’ knowledge and confidence. Teachers should provide students with lessons on interaction, which one can evaluate in various ways. Continuous feedback is relevant for older students, who can assess their level of proficiency themselves. Students whose fluency is advanced or intermediate need similar feedback as English speakers. These students should be exposed to the more complicated English and encouraged to deal with challenging concepts .
Grouping methods and structures
Teachers should encourage interaction through implementing grouping structures. One of the techniques to motivate ELL students to work together is to group them with English native speakers. In this case, English Language Learners are exposed to a more proficient level of English and therefore have an opportunities to develop their own language skills. The second method involves dividing class of ELL students into several groups of 3-5 students. This approach allows learning through communication, encouraged by the secure, relaxed atmosphere, where students are not afraid to take risks.
Teachers should consider the differences in knowledge of the learners, when they are being grouped together. In other words, streaming techniques are important in the ELL classrooms. Instructors should create groups, accounting for the abilities of students, their levels of personal and language knowledge. If the students fail to cooperate successfully, then the whole group arrangement should be changed in a structured and precise manner.
Vocabulary and background development
This concept is crucial for the success of an ELL student. Several strategies may help the teacher to build students’ background and vocabulary, such as writing key concepts on the board, emphasizing main points and vocabulary, shortening phrases, pronouncing words more distinctly, intonation and giving more time to the students for information comprehension and responding. English Language Learners who learn new vocabulary slowly are far less likely to fall behind in comprehension, than other students. Instructors can use several methods to help students in building their vocabulary and comprehending the material, such as utilizing ELL’s first language (Scrib.com. 2011)
Instructors should encourage vocabulary expansion through selecting words that represent new concepts and are essential for the content areas as well for the provision of direct instructions. They should model these approaches and processes for development of words in order to ensure sufficient exposure and opportunities in practicing new words. In other words, students should be encouraged to give their own definition of words and to use a visual aid that will help them to understand the meaning of the new word.
Involvement of students is an important instructional approach, which is used for the ELL teaching. The key success factor in this case is the maximum contribution and involvement of the students. Recent studies have demonstrated that there is a large and a direct link between engagement of students and their performance. The more actively ELL students participate in classroom activities, the better learning results will be. Students should be given the opportunities to share their learning experiences with peers and instructors. Techniques, such as manipulative ones, increase students understanding of the ideas that are being explored. Using stimulations, multimedia and modeling will help ELL students to comprehend the concepts, which are being taught in a better way. (Scrib.com. 2011)
The administrators and instructors must consider the specific features of the English Language Learners and provide new approaches in order to enhance learning skills and to meet students’ needs. The strategies that enhance ELLs learning as well as involve significant concepts, such as ensuring that information is well understood and the background knowledge is connected. Learning must be explored continuously by the school staff all over the U.S. and the world in general. America is changing quickly; therefore schools today should not only adapt to the above changes, but also promote successful integration of diverse populations into the American society through education.
Lists of References
Scrib.com (2011). Instructional Strategies for ELL Classrooms. Scribd Inc. Press.
Docstoc.com (2010). Instructional Strategies for ELL Classrooms.
Patsalides Laurie (2009). ELL Instructional Strategies in the Middle School Classroom.