Secondary Systematic ELD Instructional Units: A Teacher’s Perspective

SysELDSecUnit1Cover 72dpi 1To engage successfully in coursework taught in English, secondary English learners must operate from a competent second-language base. Many adolescent ELs are LTELs, or long-term English learners. They have spent most or all of their educational careers in American schools and are comfortable using English in most settings. On the surface, these students do not seem to need specific language instruction. However, their verbal fluency often masks their need to gain a deeper understanding of English.

This is where the Secondary Systematic ELD Instructional Units come into play. They have been carefully designed to offer language instruction that is interactive, student centered, standards aligned, and specific to students’ identified proficiency level.

Six units are planned for three proficiency levels – New to English/Beginning, Expanding/Intermediate, and Bridging/Advanced. The goal of Unit 1: Pathways to Success is to learn language to interpret a range of concepts related to success. English learners learn about and explain habits of success, discuss challenges that prevent people from meeting goals, and observe ways to develop habits of success.

I was fortunate to have the chance to talk with Duyen My Tong, a Secondary Systematic ELD teacher who taught the unit last fall, about her work, the classroom, and how students responded to the new unit. 

Welcome, Duyen! Today we are going to talk about the SysELD Pathways to Success Expanding Unit.

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Growing English Proficiency, Pt. 1

What's practice got to do with it? structured interaction

In this series, we discuss Student Interaction Routines, which are task-based strategies that help ensure each student has abundant strategic practice using new language for meaningful purposes. Developing a robust wheelhouse of interaction routines enhances student engagement and increases productive talk time.

To become confident and agile English language users, English learners need an abundance of oral practice to process new learning, think through their ideas, clarify concepts, and use newly taught academic language to express their understanding.

Unfortunately, research has shown that English learners are often passive classroom observers (Ramirez, 1992; Foster and Ohta, 2005). When they do contribute, their comments are typically limited to brief utterances in response to teacher questions. The teacher asks a question, the student responds with a single word or short phrase, and the teacher moves on to the next student. Lingard, Hayes, and Mills (2003) found that in classrooms with higher numbers of students living in poverty, teachers talk more and students talk less. English language learners in many classrooms are asked easier questions or no questions at all and thus rarely have to talk in the classroom (Guan Eng Ho, 2005). 

That leaves little opportunity for English learners to internalize newly taught language and concepts, deepen understanding, express thinking, and grow ideas.

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