ESL and Reading Theories Midterm
This Termpaper was for an Educational Class for the Teaching Credential Program. The questions listed below describe various theories and questions related to ESL and reading. Hope you find this paper useful.
I got an 'A' for this termpaper
Author - Ruddell
Reading in Secondary Education
1.Krashen's theory of comprehensible input states: "We learn a second language containing linguistic structures that are just beyond the structures we already know." (Ruddell, Page 341).
According to Krashen, "Comprehensible input" is symbolized by the following formulated statement: i (input + 1). This means that comprehensible input is just beyond our current level of competence in which we can construct new meanings. Thus, we can construct new meanings with what we already know about language, world knowledge, contextual information, and extralingual information. Krashen also states that we "Acquire new structures in a second language not by focusing on the structures themselves, but by understanding the meaning of a communication containing those new structures." (Ruddell, Page 341).
Language acquisition environment and language learning environment differ by theory. According to Krashen, "Acquisition of a language occurs as a subconscious process as we encounter and use a second language for some communicative purpose." (Ruddell, Page 340). Krashen also states that "Conscious learning of a language occurs as we study formally the grammar, structure, and lexicon of a language." (Ruddell, Page 340). Hence, Krashen views acquisition to be the main reason for second-language development.
The optimal conditions needed for L2 acquisition, according to Krashen, can be stated as "People acquire second languages when they obtain comprehensible input and when their affective filters are low enough to allow the input in. Furthermore, second l language acquisition will occur in classes taught in the second language if the student can understand what is going on in the class; that is, when input is comprehensible." (Ruddell, Page 342).
What are two strategies that I can use in my classroom so that language-related problems are not as likely to interfere with the academic aspirations of language minority students?
a. I plan on teaching history! Therefore, one strategy I could use is Co-operative learning! Students who have language-related problems can work with other students on projects that I will give in class. These groups can assist those who have language-related problems by working as a team to solve the projects I give them.
b. I can also write words from the text that I feel are important to know. For instance, most history books in high school have words that are in bold print. If some of these words are difficult (i.e. - Tyranny, Totalitarian, Anarchy, ect.), I would write these words on the board and introduce those words to the students. I would give the meaning of those words on the board and give examples that correspond to those words. I can even ask them to use these words in sentences if need be!
2. The assumption that language minority students have become "English proficient" when they have acquired relatively fluent and peer-appropriate face-to-face communicative skills is a misconception. Why? According to Cummins, he estimates that "ESL students acquire age-appropriate conversational proficiency (BIC) in about two years, while academic proficiency (CALP) requires 5 to 7 years." (Ruddell, Page 342). Thus, he warns, to "Refrain from assuming that second language students' proficiency in conversational English is a true measure of their proficiency in science, or social studies, or mathematics." (Ruddell, Page 342). Cummins also argues that schools placed ESL students in Special Education classes through inappropriate testing practices based on faulty assumptions about a students ability to speak English. Just because an ESL student can speak English fluently doesn't mean that he/she is literate in their understanding of the English language. For example, if I understood Spanish fluently, people would assume that I could get an 'A' in my Spanish classes. Even if I could speak this language easily doesn't mean that I could read or write in that language. Take for another example: illiterate people. That are lots of people in the United States who can speak English easily. But when it comes to reading or writing, they fail. I had one lady ask me if a rubber mat fabric had adhesive on the back side. Clearly marked on the front of the product was the words: "New, Adhesive backing for increased hold." I felt bad, for I new this lady couldn't read.
The language minority student is often placed into Special Education classes because of inappropriate testing practices that are based on the beliefs of a students' English language proficiency. Cummins talks about the range of contextual support and the degree of cognitive involvement in communicative activities. Cummins explains there are two intersecting continua of cognitive and linguistic elements of language transactions. In regards to Context, we usually use "Context-embedded" activities rather than "Context-reduced" activities. Embedded can be social conversations, whereas reduced can be reading or writing. Thus, Context-embedded is much easier. Along with this notion involves "Cognitively-undemanding" activities and "Cognitively-Demanding" activities. Undemanding activities involve things that we already know, whereas demanding activities involve things that we must learn. Hence, if you can imagine Context activities being placed on a horizontal line, and Cognitive activities place on a vertical line, you can see that most people enjoy Context-embedded and Cognitively Undemanding activities rather than Context-reduced and Cognitively Demanding situations. Thus, one can see that ESL students are more willing to learn English on a social level rather than on an educational level.
How does this misconception impede the academic progress of the language minority student? Schools would pull ESL students out of their classes too early. Thereby, these students suffer because they haven't developed the ability to read and write adequately. What nonsense! Schools have no right to believe the notions about English proficiency. As stated earlier, ESL students acquire age-appropriate conversational proficiency in about 2 years, while academic proficiency requires 5 to 7 years.
Schools need to adhere to Cummins findings. If ESL students are continued to be mainstreamed into regular classes too early, they will surely fall behind. Students shouldn't be placed into situations in which they must 'catch up' for the rest of their lives. Cummins concludes that "ESL students are acquiring skill in academic discourse, so too are native English speakers; thus, ESL learners must 'Catch up with a moving target' if they are to match the proficiency of native English speakers." (Ruddell, Page 344).
3. "I just sat in my classes and didn't understand anything."
List three factors that might account for this:
§ Student lacks motivation
§ There is a language barrier in regards to the content being presented.
§ There may be a learning disability.
How would I prevent these things from happening in my class?
§ I would provide students with learning activities that would be more brain compatible. Meaning: I would have lesson plans that would 'flow' from task to task, which would keep students on-task and more task-oriented. Thus, students would become more 'motivated'. I would also use more collaborative discussion groups in which all students would be able to communicate with each other.
§ For language barriers due to content material, I would present vocabulary words to my students that are considered to be confusing or difficult to say. Therefore, students will be able to associate these words with things they already know. For example, I can use 'Layman's' terminology for words such as 'excruciating' and compare it to 'painful'. If students can learn these new words, and associate these meanings to things they already know, than the content being presented won't be as difficult. I would also use charts and examples to illustrate the key concepts throughout the lesson. Students can understand things easier if it is done using visuals rather than reading about concepts.
§ A student may have a learning disability which will definitely have an impact on what he/she is learning. If there is a learning disability, than the student should be given appropriate assistance in his/her studies. For example, a student may have problems in paying attention in class, or may have problems with visual/auditory skills. Hence, these students need extra help in their curriculum. An appropriate solution to this scenario would be to place them in a Resource Specialist Program in which they can succeed.
In regards to the second portion of question three, I would use such activities as (1) Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) and (2) Group Mapping Activity (GMA). The DR-TA would develop reading comprehension by having the instructor ask students to make and support predictions before reading and them examine their predictions, conclusions, and logic as reading progresses (Ruddell, Page 40). The GMA would assist students in organizing the information they have read (Ruddell, Page 60). Thus, students can draw on paper what they believe they have just read as a diagram. I would also use the Input Hypothesis theory and the Affective Filter Hypothesis by Krashen. By this, I mean, the Input Hypothesis Theory can be utilized in helping students become successful in a particular content area. Likewise, I would use the GMA to assist with problems such as anxiety, motivation, and self-confidence.
In addition to the above, I would utilize Cortes's multicultural educational models. These models, which compose: Mainstream empowerment acculturation, Intergroup understanding acculturation, Group resource acculturation, and Civic commitment acculturation will help shape our students into becoming better overall individuals. Students will obtain the ability to deal more effectively in life, develop the ability to function with intercultural knowledge/understanding/and sensitivity, utilize individual and societal resources, and develop a commitment to others with the willingness to care about society in general.
4. Short answer questions (one-three paragraphs each).
A. How can writing enhance students' reading and learning in content classes?
Writing allows students to explore concepts they have learned from reading or learning. For example, if a student read a journal about the tragic Titanic episode, he/she might write about the topic. In this topic, the student might expand his/her thoughts on what happened and might draw their own conclusions. Likewise, if a student finished listening to a lecture on Clinton and Monica Lewinski, he/she might write their own thoughts and reflect these connotations on paper. I would utilize Journal writing as a strategy that would be effective in promoting writing in Social Studies (History). I would place an image of a famous person in history on the overhead every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and ask them to reflect on the picture by writing an entry into their journals. After about five minutes, I would talk about the picture and give a 'mini-lesson' about who the person is and why they are important. Thus, students would be able to make an assumption, write about what they see, and interpret these thoughts onto paper. Even the Ruddell text makes a wonderful statement about writing: "We know that writing itself is a powerful means for construction and clarification of knowledge and highly useful for combined content/vocabulary learning." (Ruddell, Page 120).
B. How can I create a "Word-Rich" environment?
Here again is another topic that I have used inside the classroom. For English, both myself and my boss would write a word on the white board. Once class has begun, we would ask the class what the word meant. After many guesses and agreements, we would tell them what that word meant. After we complete the 'daily word' exercise, we would give them 10 vocabulary words to study (Usually given on a Monday). They would copy the words down, write each word 4 times each, then use those words in a crossword puzzle. Once they have completed this task, we would give our students the correct definitions for those words. On the next class meeting, we would have a 'Buzz Word' competition: A game in which we would call on a student to answer a question like this: The definition is..."A list of words and often phrases...what is the word I'm looking for?" The student would then get a chance to answer that question and also to spell it for the class. If he/she got the answer right, than he/she would be given one point. At the end of the game, whomever had the most points would win a prize (Usually candy or chips, even though we know we should give them nourishing foods like a banana or a squash).
Yet, how will the 'Daily Word' and weekly vocabulary words help students succeed? For one thing, they are able to remember the spelling and meanings for new words via our weekly vocabulary words. We utilize vocabulary words by asking them also to write these words in sentences. Of course, they are expected to do a good job. However, the main point we try to stress to our students: Expand your vocabulary.
C. What cautions must you employ when using and interpreting standardized test scores?
You must remember that Standardized Testing should not be used as a reliable source of information. There are too many things that can offset a 'true' score for a student. For example, what if a student guesses on the standardized test? And he/she gets all of them right? Would that be a true measure of his/her performance? No. Another example - The norms for evaluating the test scores may be based on a population. Thus, this test would not be comparable with your students. Furthermore, students perform differently due to everyday life - lack of sleep, sick, headache, ect.) (Abbott, Page 38).
Therefore, I submit to you, that Standardized Testing should not be used as a true measurement. The test scores should only be used as a point of reference. What I mean is, the test scores should 'alert' teachers about a students performance in a particular area. Therefore, teachers will be made 'aware' of a students performance and may further investigate possible solutions.
D. What do proficient readers do prior to, during, and following reading?
Put simply, students will need to: (Ruddell, Page 134)
1. Think about what they already know about a certain idea or topic.
§ Students can brainstorm any idea or topic by writing the key word or phrase on a blank sheet of paper. Then, they can list everything they know about it by using 'Subtopics' or single words that are directly related to the idea/topic. For example, I could write the word "Cigarette Smoking" on the board. Then, I would ask my students to write down everything they knew about that topic. I would ask them to include the dangers and addictions involved with smoking.
2. Next, students will need to inquire, manipulate, and construct new meaning to what they already know from new data or info.
§ Students need to organize this info in a manner in which they can interpret what they have learned. Students can explore this new info by identifying new info, comparing info with other students, debating the info, and discussing the info with the class as a whole or in groups. * I like the small group method because students can collaborate and support each others views about the info being discussed. Thus, each member of a group tends to 'support' each other during discussion.
§ In this stage, I would lecture to the class about the dangers of smoking and its adverse effects on the body. I would present overheads with detailed information about why smoking is dangerous and how addictive it can be to the human body. Then, I would ask my students to form an opinion about what they have seen and heard, be it in groups or individually.
3. Finally, students will blend in what they already know to the new info or data that they have received. Thus, they will change previous ways of thinking, and construct new, or change existing, schemata.
§ Once students have finished analyzing the new info, they will be able to form new meaning by contrasting what they already knew to what they now know. Thus, they can draw their own conclusions about an idea or topic. They can do this by revising what they already knew about an idea/topic with the new information presented or learned.
§ Finally, I would ask my students write a summary about smoking. I would ask them to tell me the dangerous effects of smoking and its addiction to the body. Furthermore, I would require them to write about any new information they didn't already know. Thus, they would be able to compare the new data to the old data.
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