Cross Section of Speaking & Listening and Language Acquisition

In Rod Ellis’ journal article “Principles of instructed language learning,” there are basically 10 principles of language acquisition in the classroom. While there is controversy amongst researchers, it is agreed that comprehensible output is required (communicative activities). Too much focus on grammatical function does not take into account proper output for the language learner. One of Ellis’ conclusions is that specific Language Development classes should not be taught as “support” for the regular day schedule of the students, but instead focus on meaning-making through intensive input (instruction of grammar, vocabulary). Those specific classes work to develop this portion of language learning, while the rest of the students’ class schedules should focus on communicative activities.

In recent news, a school district in Arkansas sees major gains in their ELD program by providing block scheduled ELD classes that do not work to support the other curricular
classes. Instead, the ELD class works to provide the grammatical structure necessary, while there are some discussions and communicative activities. The ELD program is considered an early success for the school district.

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L2 in the Classroom: An Introduction, Professors Ineke Vedder and Rose van der Zwaard ask the essential questions regarding who is a good language learner? Are there good and bad language learners? What is the purpose of the teaching and learning of L2? Much of secondary school English Language Development (ELD) instruction is done so with the purpose of passing tests in order to “reclassify” the English language learner out of the ELD system. Schools are rewarded for such reclassification because it demonstrates learning and language development.

Although the previous stated purpose is debatable because of the reclassification/reward system, many ELD classes are taught concurrently with the students’ regular academic schedule. For example, students will take a general education English class (9th grade English) along with an additional ELD class. I have seen ELD classes taught differently based on teacher preference and school requirements.

imgresIn Improving Literacy Instruction in Middle and High Schools: A Guide for Principles, the report specifically advances research-based recommendations to administrators for developing school-wide literacy goals. Among them are the following tenets:

  • Discussion – opportunities for deeper, more sustained discussions of content from text. Extended discussions of text can be facilitated by the teacher, or can occur as structured discussions among students in cooperative learning groups.
  • High Standards – setting and maintaining high standards for the level of text, conversationquestions, and vocabulary reflected in discussions and in reading and writing assignments.

More proof that standards-based instruction and research-based methods include discussion, deliberation, and debate in our classrooms!

 

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