It is always a pleasure to feature exception candidate work. TESOL Candidate Kelly Broshears contributed an exceptional Discussion Board on Academic Success for Multilingual Learners for EDDN 637 – Second Language Learners and the Content Areas
Kelly Broshears is a 4th semester student at Touro College and a member of the TESOL masters program. She received her undergraduate degree at Salve Regina University in Newport RI in 2019 with a major in early childhood education. “This is where I found a passion for working with ENL students. Currently, I am a kindergarten teacher for the NYC DOE in District 27.”
Discussion Board: 1 CHAP I ACADEMIC SUCCESS by Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. & Short, D. (2017). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model. 5th Edition, Pearson.
- WHAT Characteristics INFLUENCE ELL’s having SUCCESS IN SCHOOL?
The success of an ELL student in school can be connected to a variety of factors. There are the ones that I think of right off the bat that include the student’s prior exposure to the English language before attending school or the years the ELL student has been attending an English speaking school. However, research suggests that the characteristics that influence the school success of an ENL student goes much deeper than that. As stated earlier, knowledge of the English language is a main characteristic of student success. Another characteristic includes how deep the language proficiency is in the L1, as well as, the educational background of the student. For example, a student who is well educated in the L1 typically will have an easier time learning the L2 compared to a student who had limited access to school due to factors outside of the control of the child. If a student is more proficient in their L1 and has had more access to school in their native language, “they can transfer the knowledge they learned in their native country’s schools to the courses they are taking in the United States.” (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2017, p. 5) which, in turn, will more likely produce success. ELL success can also be determined on factors outside of the education realm. Some factors may include the family’s financial situation, abuse, refugee status from a potentially war-torn country, etc. As teachers of ELL students, it is incredibly important to recognize and acknowledge these characteristics when planning the best possible instruction for the individual students you work with.
2. What are some characteristics of ELL’s to consider to implement effective teaching?
As previously stated, there are so many characteristics of ELL’s that are important to consider when teaching. In order for the instruction to be effective, these characteristics must be considered. In order to provide the most effective teaching, it is crucial that teachers of ELL students work off of what the student can already do and build upon their strengths. It is so often that educators work off of what students do not know and they focus on that negativity, instead of focusing on the positives of what students can already do and use that to their advantage. The assets being referred to also do not necessarily have to be academically based. According to Echevarria, et.al (2017), “these assets are related to language and cultural practices in the home… Teachers can build on these relationship roles to construct collaborative learning environments in the classroom.” (p. 7). By building off the strengths of the students, the teacher can create a more inclusive environment for students that makes all students feel like they can be successful and helps to provide the confidence they need to succeed.
You can also use student educational backgrounds in their native languages to help implement effective teaching. Teachers can build upon the literacy skills students may have in their L1 and work off of that to transfer those skills to English. This can be done through making connections from school to their outside world by looking at various things to read like a bill or a shopping list. You can also foster effective teaching by providing many opportunities for students to use conversational English. Lastly, in order to implement effective teaching it is crucial to have students make connections to their cultures because “students do not enter schools as blank slates. Many have had life experiences that are pertinent to the curricula.” (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2017, p. 8). By providing children with those connections to their cultures, it can give students a chance to show their knowledge, build their confidence, and they can teach their peers while learning how the things in their native countries might be different than in the United States.
3. How can we as educators transform the education of English Language Learners/ Multilingual Learners for tomorrow’s world?
The key to transforming the education of ELL’s and ML’s for tomorrow’s world is multimodal learning. ELL students who are filling in quick and mindless worksheets are not being engaged enough and set up for success in the future. Students will need to be cognitively ready for purposeful and substantive conversations and interactions they will be having in the near future. It is an educator’s job to set these students up for this kind of success, but so often, these students are falling through the cracks because of teacher activities like simple worksheets. According to Walqui (2021), students “need to be skilled in understanding ideas, judging their validity based on evidence, and often making decisions based on inferential interpretations of the ideas and information presented in the narrative or written texts they encounter.” By providing ELL/ ML students with an opportunity to engage with text in various modalities and engage with a peer about the text, the students are then able to practice forming their own understanding and perspective on the topic, as well as, listen to and gain a peer’s perspective. Because ELL students have so much cultural knowledge to build upon that teachers can tap into, students should be well equipped to engage with others and learn from their peers. In order to transform education, we need to include these types of rich and engaging practices that will prove to be more effective in preparing students for the future than a worksheet.
4. What is one take-away from this week’s readings and how might it impact you teaching?
In my opinion, I learned a lot from this week’s reading and it was really eye opening. The biggest take-away I had from the reading is how important it is to build relationships in the classroom and be culturally responsive. I always heard professors talk about how important culturally responsive teaching is but after reading several articles and the text it is even more clear how important this is. For example, an ELL teacher in Oregon engages in home visits and pays special attention to important aspects of her students home lives so she can include these aspects into her lessons to make them more engaging and to make children have a sense of community. “Students are most engaged when they feel a personal connection to a lesson or unit, a connection that’s created in part by a teacher’s investment in culturally competent relationships.” (Kaplan, 2019). By considering all factors of an ELL students life and taking into account all of their strengths and interests, it is more likely that these students will have more success in school because the teacher is setting them up for that success with the environment he/she has cultivated.
Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. & Short, D. (2017). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model. 5th Edition, Pearson.
Kaplan, E. (2019, April 12). 6 Essential Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-essential-strategies-teaching-english-language-learners (Links to an external site.)
Walqui, A. (2021, January 5). Quality Education for ELLs and MLs: Why We Need It and How We Can Achieve It. NYSED. http://www.nysed.gov/bilingual-ed/topic-brief-1-quality-education-ells-and-mls-why-we-need-it-and-how-we-can-achieve-it (Links to an external site.)
from DB 1 CHAP I ACADEMIC SUCCESS
Kelly Broshears responding to peers:
I really enjoyed reading your post this week and I felt like a lot of the things you mentioned resonated deeply with me and my reading this week as well. One thing that you mentioned that stood out to me was when you said about “Creating activities that sharpen all five senses and allow students to work in an interactive format will help them gain a greater understanding of both the English language and the world around them.” This jumped out to me because as a kindergarten teacher, this is the only way we really teach because it is proven that young children need that hands on and multimodal learning to help grasp new concepts. However, I know that as you go on in the years of schooling, hands on learning turns more into worksheets and textbooks which can be detrimental for an ENL student. I worry about these students because I feel that with so many teachers not having ENL training, they do not know how to differentiate for these students. This can cause these students to get lost in the shuffle. In my opinion, teachers who are struggling with teaching their ENL students should think about this: “Educators considering how to strengthen the quality of teaching for ELLs and MLs will find it provocative and productive to reflect on their own and other experts’ theories concerning how second languages are learned, how learning happens in general, what students bring to learning, and how teachers themselves learn and develop as expert professionals.” (Walqui, 2021). By reflecting and studying the theory and pedagogy behind teaching ENL students, most teachers can begin to shift their thinking and improve their practice.
Walqui, A. (2021, January 5). Quality Education for ELLs and MLs: Why We Need It and How We Can Achieve It. NYSED. http://www.nysed.gov/bilingual-ed/topic-brief-1-quality-education-ells-and-mls-why-we-need-it-and-how-we-can-achieve-it
I wanted to let you know that I thought your post this week was really great and I look forward to hearing your perspective throughout this course. As someone who is dual language, I think you bring a whole other side to this apart from just the teaching side that is interesting to hear. Something that you said really stood out to me. What stood out to me was when you mentioned overcrowded classrooms being an ineffective way to teach ENL students. Currently, I teach general education kindergarten and have 24 students in the room with no aide or paraprofessional. This is almost the maximum amount of students the NYC DOE allows in a kindergarten setting. I always say that this puts my students at a huge disadvantage since it becomes very loud at times and overstimulating, but this is true especially for the ENL students I have. I never thought about them potentially struggling more because of the setting so thank you for pointing that out. In a big school system like the DOE, unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the class sizes no matter how hard we fight for it. However, I really enjoyed the suggestion by Schwartz (2021), that said to use microphones in the classroom to combat this issue. She says that using a microphone “can help ELL students hear the nuances of your voice more clearly and understand you better”. This might help ENL students in a large classroom to understand different aspects of the language more clearly.
Schwartz, J. (2021, October 21). 10 strategies that support English language learners across all subjects. Edutopia. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/10-strategies-support-english-language-learners-across-all-subjects (Links to an external site.)