Edu 321

Introduction to Serving English Language Learners

Welcome to Week 2

Imagine yourself walking in the door of your very first classroom. You look around at twenty eight eager faces. Worry sets in as you realize the diversity in your students. Will your lessons work for each them? Will you be effective in teaching?

In order to be an effective teacher, you need to have a strong understanding about how students acquire language and build literacy skills. You need to understand how you, as the teacher, can provide the "just right" activities to facilitate the stages of language acquisition. Just as important, you will need to understand how formal state and national assessments, such as the California English Language development test (CELDT) explicitly measure language proficiency levels for each student. This information allows you to design appropriate lessons that do meet the goal of building literacy skills.

Learning focus for this second week:

  1. Compare theories of first and second language acquisition.

  2. Describe assessments that effectively measure the performance of ELLs.

  3. Describe proficiency standards and apply them to ELLs.

  4. Create a learning activity and an assessment that includes reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

I look forward to working alongside you this week as you continue to prepare to be future educators!


J. Shaylene

Stephen Krashen on Language Acquisition

Discussion #1 - Theories of Langauge Aquistion

Read Chapter 2 of your textbook entitled, “First and Second Language Development and Their Relationship to Academic Achievement.” In order to understand your ELLs and best serve them, you will need to have basic knowledge of how they learn and acquire language, especially a second language. In learning about various first and second language acquisition theories and concepts, you will be able to make better and informed instructional decisions.

For this discussion forum, pick one of the following topics:

Option 1: Compare and contrast the theories and stages of first language acquisition to second language acquisition (pp. 47-52). In your post, describe at least three similarities and at least three differences. Create a graphic using a T-chart or Venn Diagram that reflects your brainstorming and attach to your post.

Option 2: Identify and describe at least three former theories that still influence current practice (pp. 52-54) and three current theories of language development (pp. 54-64). Compare and contrast the former and current theories. Describe at least two similarities and two differences. How are the current theories informed by the former theories?

Option 3: Choose one of the following theories or hypotheses: Separate Underlying Proficiency (SUP) and Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP), Interlanguage Theory, Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis, Natural Order Hypothesis, Monitor Hypothesis, Comprehensible Input Hypothesis, Affective Filter Hypothesis, Threshold Theory, or Total Physical Response (TPR). In your own words, describe how the textbook defines it. Then, find two other articles about the theory or hypothesis. These articles can be web-based or scholarly. Compare the articles to the textbook. How did the articles enhance what you learned from the textbook? Describe at least three new things you learned. (If you didn’t learn three new things, then you need to keep reading more articles.)

Guided Response: Respond to two of your peers. How did your peers’ postings increase your knowledge of first and second language development? Advance the conversation by thinking about how a child’s native language literacy skills help him or her acquire language proficiency and literacy in a second language.

Discussion #2 - Assessments for ELL

Read Chapter 3 of your textbook entitled, “Assessment of English Learners.” While academic standards and proficiency can be assessed through formal tests and assessments for all students, English language learners need additional assessment opportunities in order for teachers to assess their language proficiency skills. Watch the webcast, Assessment of English Language Learners, featuring Dr. Lorraine Valdez Pierce. There is also a PowerPointpresentation to accompany this video that may be beneficial (located directly below the video link). After watching the video and reading the chapter, respond to the following questions:
  1. How can current assessments (such as standardized testing) be biased against students who are not native speakers of English?

  2. How do performance-based classroom assessments serve ELLs?

  3. Describe one example of your assessing your ELLs in your classroom.
Guided Response: Respond to two of your peers. What was something interesting or new that you can add to your peers’ responses?

Written Assignment - Proficiency Standards

Refer to your profile of an ELL that you wrote in your Week One discussion forum. Revise this profile and describe your student’s proficiency standards as described in Table 2.1 (p. 51) and Table 3.1 (p. 91). Based on these proficiency standards, the cultural and linguistic background of your student, and your student’s personality, design an activity and an assessment that will help your student increase her/her English skills.

For the activity, make sure to include reading, writing, listening, and speaking components. In other words, your activity must require the student to read, write, listen and speak according to his/her proficiency standards. In designing this activity, think about strategies you would frontload to and/or work with the students. Think about how you would teach an EL student. Think about ways you will provide proper scaffolding to make the content comprehensible for ELLs.

For the assessment, create a task which measures the student’s performance of the activity. Read the document, Performance Assessments for English Language Learners. There are many different types of assessments that can be used to assess a student’s language abilities. However, some of these assessments, such as the state standardized tests, may not effectively measure a student’s true abilities due to various reasons. Standardized and other formal assessments may not be reliable and valid for English language learners because of the extraneous sources that can confound the outcomes. Therefore, performance-based assessments and authentic assessments are said to be the best opportunity to gain insight of the knowledge and abilities of English learners. Create a performance-based assessment that will assess content and language proficiency. Justify how your assessment tool effectively assesses ELLs.

Your paper will include a revised student profile, an activity, and an assessment. Your paper must be three to four pages in length, not including title and reference pages, be in APA format, and use at least two scholarly resources in addition to the course text.

Have a successful week!