Who Are Our English Learners and What Factors Affect Them?
Kimberly Curry & Katrina McClung
The Four Types of English Learners
1. Newly Arrived with Adequate Schooling and Newly Arrived with Limited Formal Schooling or SIFE - Recently arrived, soon catch up academically, may still score low on test and can be influenced positively or negatively by social and economic factors. And for Newly Arrived with Limited Formal Schooling recently arrived (less than five years in the country), in grades two through twelve, received interrupted or limited schooling, limited home language literacy, below grade level in math, and poor academic achievement.
2. Long-Term English Learners - Have been in the country for six or more years, are not reclassified as fluent English speakers, typically are in grades six through twelve., have limited literacy in both native language and English, may get adequate grades but score low on tests, struggle with content classes and are at risk of dropping out.
3. Potential Long-Term English Learners - Have lived in the United State most of their lives, begin their schooling speaking a language other than English, typically are in kindergarten through fifth grade, have parents with low levels of education and parents who struggle financially.
4. Academically Successful Emergent Bilinguals - Enter school speaking a home language other than English, received comprehensible ESL instruction through academic content based on standards and organized around themes, often have strong mentors within and or outside the schools.
Student's Characteristics and Successes
We have a newly arrived Hispanic First grade student with adequate schooling. She is behind the normal first grade student, but with early interventions and some tutoring, she'll be able to catch up academically. She struggled on the assessments and standardized tests, but that was expected because tests can be written on a higher comprehension level. She had a difficult time with separation anxiety when she started. She cried for the first three days of school because she was very afraid of leaving her mom. Her mom speaks very little English, and she didn't want to leave her by herself. After daily positive motivation and becoming familiar with all of her teachers, the crying has stopped. Her teacher even sent a happy note home the day she went all day without crying. She was so excited for her mom to see this note.
Our student from last year came to us with adequate schooling and low language skills. Through peer discussions and collaboration, she was able to acquire higher language skills. This was due to her being comfortable with peers and not feeling pressured to be perfect while speaking.
Ideas from the book that can be incorporated into our classrooms
Cultural diversity is key to consider when designing instructional for our ESOL students. Although teachers cannot control what is happening in the homes of their students, they should still be aware so they can decide how to best guide instruction inside their classroom. Our textbook gives us some ideas that can be incorporated into our classroom. Social Support Students can come to us with adequate schooling but socially are able to minimally communicate. Allowing peers or students younger to introduce them to US cultures and traditions can seem less threatening than coming from an adult. This also allows them to communicate their culture and traditions. Socially accommodating them can help them to be more successful academically. Language Acquisition Many students can come to us without adequate communication skills. The book suggests that in this situation it is better to organize activities that will have your ESOL students talking, reading, and writing about current events in their lives. The more authentic the activity, the better they can acquire the language skills needed. Motivation Students can have high output but may not show that because of low motivation, anxiety, or boredom. As teachers we tend to want to over-correct to help a student to become proficient in what we are teaching. The book suggests that we take a step back and determine the readiness of our students. We don’t want to force output if the student isn’t ready. If the student is too focused on sounding out words or over monitoring themselves, they will only get frustrated and not want to speak in social situations.