Touro TESOL Candidate Michelle Velez on Program Options for English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners with Personal Teaching Illustrations

EDPN 673 Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language provides a historical overview of second language acquisition theories and teaching methods. Students learn how to apply current approaches, methods and techniques, with attention to the effective use of materials, in teaching English as a second language. Students will engage in the planning and implementation of standards-based ESL instruction which includes differentiated learning experiences geared to students’ needs. Emphasis is placed on creating culturally responsive learning environments. Ms. Velez submitted an outstanding Discussion Board Contribution.

Michelle Velez is a 1st grade teacher in the South Bronx. She has worked in the education field since 2015, holding various titles. Ms. Velez feels that “obtaining an advanced certificate in TESOL is my goal in order to better assist my students on their language acquisition journey.”

What are the basic tools and techniques for effective second language/foreign language teaching?

There are three main parts to effective second language/foreign language teaching, which are approach, design, and procedure. The grouping of students plays a large role in an ENL classroom for the students. One type of grouping depends on the L2 language of one of the students. If a student acquiring the L2 is paired with another who has some grasp on the L2 it is helpful. The student is able to work with another in the target language that is accessible to them, and not going to frustrate them because they are able to understand each other. It is more valuable to ELL students to work in pairs or groups than individually because they are able to have valuable conversation in the L2 with their peers, which fosters growth. From personal experience I found that ELL students prefer and become excited when paired with peers because it is a greater benefit in learning the L2 and fosters growth over time. A student’s classmate can help in ways us educators cannot sometimes because they have their own way of communicating and understanding each other. Another important part of the classroom is the different types of talk the teacher has with the students. Whether it’s small talk about the weather or the past weekend, pre-lesson talks about the upcoming lesson or the previous one. Another important aspect in the classroom is providing feedback when needed. Wait time when asking a question to ELL students is very important and much needed. ELL students need a longer wait time in order to process the questions being asked. Asking multiple questions in a short amount of time can potentially overwhelm and cause a student to shut down. I have seen this first hand while I was student teaching years ago. The student put his head down and refused to talk because it was too much information coming at him at once.

Give specific illustrative example examples of YOUR PERSONAL teacher classroom discourse IN YOUR CLASSES

In a third grade classroom we started our mystery unit by drawing the student in. We had a class plant that was watered by the students when needed. To get the students hooked we hid the plant in the closet with dirt left behind. The students noticed the plant was gone and we asked if anything they have has went missing before and what were the steps they used to try and find it. We talked a little about this to make a relatable connection to their lives. As this question was opened to the class, we had a short turn and talk with their assigned partners. Our ELL students were paired with two others, one ELL and non-ELL student to foster and encourage conversations. Later in this unit we read a mystery book (3rd Grade Detective Series) and students were asked to answer comprehension questions based on what was read following in each chapter. As a class we would start the discussion about the chapters then students were asked to go back and answer a few on their own or in pairs. While the students are working we did provide visual supports or modified questions when needed. Most common visual supports are sentence starters.

PRETEND THAT YOU OBSERVE YOUR OWN CLASS – use the sample classroom observation feedback form p. 361 in your textbook and reflect on what you learned about your planning, teaching and assessment.

Lesson Quality: The lesson achieved its initial objectives to introduce the next unit of study, mystery. Michelle was able to pace the lesson appropriately for all of the students, taking her time and not rushing through any questions students may have about the topic. Students were engaged and able to be apart of the opening of the lesson, which helped draw student’s interest.

Teacher Presentation: All aspects of the presentation were clear for students to understand. Students were engaged and focused on the lesson presentation and class conversations. Students were grouped not based on academic levels, but students were grouped based on abilities to bring out the best in their peers, especially with ELL students.

Student Participation: Students showed a high interest level in the lesson, especially the pre-lesson introduction with the missing class plant. While reading the book students also showed a high interest in class discussions sharing their thoughts about the mystery present in the book.

Looking back on this particular lesson I think engaging the students in the pre-lesson “the missing class plant” was very effective in getting the students excited about mysteries. They were able to somehow connect it to their own lives, which is important for all students, even more so for ELL students. Students were also given ample opportunity to converse and work on their verbal language with peers. Students worked in several grouping opportunities, whole class, pair, and small groups. Students were also provided with visual supports and modified questions.

If I had to change anything for this lesson I would break down the chapters a little more instead of asking comprehension questions about the entire chapter. Some of the chapters were long, making some students frustrated when trying to find answers and evidence to support those answers.

On p 389 in your textbook -391 you will find textbook evaluation checklists.  Take one book YOU USE CURRENTLY in YOUR classroom and analyze it with those checklists. Reflect on what you learned in your answer in the DB with specific, descriptive examples.

The book I picked is the enVision Math book we use in first grade. In the first section of the checklist, curriculum this book covers the topics needed for my first grade students, however the time frame for each section feels rushed. Students do not get enough time to work on their skills for each topic instead each topic is rushed. Often I find myself spending more than one day on topics rather than rushing just to get through the topics we need to be covered in the school year. One example of this can be found in topic 3, where we cover addition facts to 20 by using various strategies. Each lesson adds upon the last, for example, the first lesson’s focus is counting on to add followed by counting on to add using an open number line. It is a positive that each concept builds upon the previous, but there is not a sufficient number of examples for the students to refer to if needed support. In the lesson using a number line, there is one example given for the students to refer back to. Another issue students can face is the students need to then create their own number lines in order to solve 9 questions. If the students were not exposed to number lines prior to this lesson it may be a lot to assume students will understand the concept of using a number line so quickly. One part of the checklist that stood out and is often not represented well in the textbooks we use in schools is the cultural & age group sensitivities. For example, one of the word problems in this topic mentions the zoo, pounds, and tortoises. Some of my students have no prior experience with going to zoos or they have no idea what tortoises are. This word problem is supposed to be completed independently. If they are not able to read the words how are they supposed to be able to solve the problem. Often I notice the students either completely skip the word problems provided in this textbook or they get stuck on the words and concepts not familiar to them. This textbook has its positive aspects but also many negatives that make it difficult for my students to grasp concepts.

Gather some information on student assessment from your school district. What kinds of student assessments are regularly administered, and in what language? If the district includes non-native speakers of English, are testing and assessment requirements modified or altered in any way to accommodate them? If so, how?

Prior to the pandemic one assessment administered was the MOSOL, which is supposed to measure student learning in the beginning of the year and at the end of the year. The MOSOL is given to students in English. If students need translation of the questions we try to provide that if we can. In some cases we do not have an adult that speaks a certain language and able to translate for the student. Often we encourage the students to try their best, sometimes we do have the ENL teacher to take her group of students to administer the MOSOL assessment. She will read each question and answers in the student’s L1. Another assessment given to students is the NYSESLAT at the end of each school year. This assessment measures an ELL student’s English proficiency. This assessment is given to students in English, as it’s purpose to measure student’s ability in English.

In NYS, what are the Program Options for English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners?

Students can be in a Transitional Bilingual Education Program (TBE). Students in this program learn to read, write, speak, and understand in English. Simultaneously, students are learning content in their L1. It is the goal of these students to eventually learning in only English. Dual language programs give students the opportunity to become multilingual. One-way dual programs instruction is given in the student’s L1 and in English. In two-way dual programs is for native English speakers and ELL students. Instruction is in both English and the new language. ENL programs focuses on acquiring English. Some students receive push-in instruction and other received pullout instruction in the core content.

What is the purpose of Commissioner’s Regulations – Sections 117

The purpose of Sections 117 is to screen new students in a school to see if they are gifted, having a disability, and or an ELL student.

How do the BLUEPRINT FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNER/MULTILINGUAL LEARNER (ELL/MLL) SUCCESS and CR Part 154 Comprehensive ELL Education Plan (CEEP) and ENL staffing requirements connect with each other? 

These three connect with each other because they focus on the success of the ELL students. All of these outline ways to help better assist ENL students on their way through the journey of language acquisition. Depending on the level of the ELL student determines how often the ENL teacher will meet with them per week.

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001). Teaching English as a second or foreign language. Heinle & Heinle.

Commissioner’s Regulations – Sections 117.1-3. NYSED. (n.d.).

Program Options for ELLs and MLs. New York State Education Department. (n.d.).

Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

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