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Instructional Strategies For Classrooms

The development of competent literacy and reading skills is perceived to be one of the most significant characteristic of ones individual success. However the process of developing these skills requires the integration of ones language skills, ability to make meaning from various print materials and background knowledge. Many students especially those trying to develop literacy in language other than their native language find the process to be uneasy and challenging. Many schools today are faced with the issue of helping students from distinct cultures and languages in developing the ability to write and read in English while learning the specific content of the grade required by the state or district.

Introduction

The ELL student population continues to grow more rapidly than the whole of student population. ELL students face a very challenging g task of mastering a new language while at the same time learning the subject area content. Teachers have noted that English language learners who receive low grades are characterized by lower academic abilities and usually score below their fellow classmates on standardized tests of math and reading. This calls for an improvement of the instruction strategies on English language learner’s classrooms. This essay is going to focus on the knowledge of methods and techniques of second language teaching for various age and language groups basing on the components which are namely; comprehensible input, ongoing-specific and immediate feedback, grouping structures and techniques, building background and vocabulary development, and student engagement.

Comprehensible input

Comprehensible input means that the student should be able to understand the importance of what is being presented or said to them. This doesn’t however mean that the instructors should use only those words that the students can understand. Sometimes the instructions can be incomprehensible even when the students have the full knowledge of all the words used by the instructor. Students tend to learn new language best when they receive content which is relatively more difficult than they can easily understand. According to Eugene (n.d), the natural approach by Krashen states that Language acquisition is subconscious in nature and it is unlike the way a child learns language. The hypothesis of acquisition-learning distinction claims that adults do not lose the ability or capacity to acquire languages the way children do. It also shows that error correction has a little impact on children who are acquiring and learning language. The bilingual immersion program is another method in which the concept of comprehensible input can be achieved in students who are of different languages. These programs are intense and full time and use two languages for learning and instruction. These bilingual immersion programs mainly consist of students whose native language is Spanish and are attempting to learn new language such as English. This dual language programs are very prevalent and active in both elementary and high schools. The students learn language through their native language as well as through the second language they are trying to learn.

Students of other language groups can also achieve the concept of comprehensible input through suggestopedia. This methodology involves the focusing on the student’s conscious level of thinking as well as the subconscious (reservoir of the mind). This is because the subconscious mind has unlimited capacity to learn and again suggestopedia uses its proven scenario to learn language in relatively less amount of time than it would take to learn with other conventional methods. A small group setting makes room for increased comprehensible input because teachers and students modify the message to the listeners’ need. The instructor should ensure that the student has access to essential key grade–level concepts in the curriculum. A potentially practical approach for increasing comprehensible input in the general curriculum is through the use of cooperative peer tutoring and learning strategies. For instance English-language learners with learning complexities can work in small groups on important learning concepts. In a sense, students can put their language skills to illustrate concepts, define words, and provide examples to each other.

On-going, specific, and immediate feedback

Ongoing assessment of student learning usually provides a continuous feedback on the effectiveness of the instruction and it also indicates areas where a change of instructional strategy may be advisable. These ongoing assessments include general quizzes, end chapter tests essay or report writing and the informal classrooms the classroom observations of student literacy and language behaviors. Teachers of ELLs usually assess their students through evaluation of incremental progress, oral language development performance and the examination of the students work. Specific feedback confirms the successes and also assists the students in working on the areas where they are facing difficulties. Feedback should not basically focus on the grammatical errors but also on the meaning so that meaningful learning can take place as the teacher gives the feedback. They also derive some of the instructional objectives required thus ensuring the set objectives are met. There should also be frequent interaction between the peers and ELL students focused on the content. Peer partner check will not only check understanding but also enhance the student’s knowledge. It is imperative for the teacher to give immediate feedback to students so that they might be motivated to learn and also gain self confidence. The type of feedback given depends on the developmental level of student and also the stage of language acquisition. For instance young students who are at the stage of early production are most likely to benefit from a feedback which replicates correct English. This is because the young student is more likely to be successful in word selection and vocabulary. Young students will require different levels of correction and the listening of correctly formed language. On the other hand the feed back of the older students is similar to that of native English speakers because they have high levels of English language acquisition (Morse, n.d).

Grouping structures and techniques

The mannerism which the ELL students are grouped plays a very significant role in their learning process and achievement. The division of students into smaller groups promotes learning because it encourages communication in a relaxed, safe environment where the ELL students are not afraid of taking risks. The division of the ELL students into smaller groups also gives the teachers the opportunity of meeting the diverse needs of the larger classroom. The ELL teachers should consider the personalities and learning styles when choosing pairs or small cooperative learning groups. The ELL students should be able to benefit from one another in these groups and. However, if it is not beneficial then the instructor should reconsider the group by making the necessary changes. The students should also be taught on how to work in small groups so that the activities of the group may be successful. In order for the ELL students to remain positive and focused in their groups the instructor should provide them with the necessary guidelines and specific tasks (Hernandez, 2007).

Building background and vocabulary development

Background building g and vocabulary is very vital in the success of the ELL students. Some of the methodologies which can be used in the building of the vocabulary and background of the ELL students include, the writing of the key concept on the black board, the use of intonation when emphasizing on the vocabulary and key ideas, clarity in the pronunciation of words, shortening of sentences and the increment of waiting time so that students can answer or process information. ELL’s who experience slow vocabulary development are usually caught behind grade level in comprehension than their peers. Other strategies that the teacher can use in building vocabulary and even comprehension include the utilization of ELL’s first language if the language shares cognates with the English language and ensuring that ELL’s understands the meaning of basic words and by providing basic review and reinforcement. The instructor can promote vocabulary development by intentionally making the choice of words that represent new concepts and also those which are vital across content area. After making the selection, the instructor should then provide direct instruction in word meaning and in methods of learning new words. The instructors should also ensure that the students have multiple opportunities and exposure to practice these new words and also encourage students to say or even write the definition of the word (Reed & Railsback, 2003).

Student engagement

Active engagement of student is also another very important concept for a successful teaching of ELL’s .concrete activities help students in maintaining focus and connecting with the content which is being taught. The methodologies used in actively engaging ELL learners include project based learning, cooperative grouping and thematic instruction. The instructors should also ensure that students have opportunities to share learning experiences with them and other students or peers. Lessons that include manipulatives and handful of activities tend to increase the students understanding on the concepts which are being explored. The utilization of sources such as multimedia sources, modeling and simulation can help students in gaining a better understanding of the concepts which are being taught. Another way in which the instructor can create more student engagement is by giving the students a choice on how they show their learning. They should also be allowed to create their own goals so that they can increase their level of engagement since at this point learning means something to the student (Echevarria, 2004).

Conclusion

Over the past few years there have been rapid changes in the demographics thus increasing the English language learning issues in schools. This trend is likely to continue into the future meaning that more schools and more classrooms are likely to enroll ELL students in future. Literacy is the basic of the ELL issue because it involves the basic language competencies which include speaking listening, reading and writing which are usually considered to be the fundamental skills for ones success in school (Hill &Flynn, 2006). Administrators and teachers need special and foundational skills in understanding the development of English language and how the classroom affects effective learning. Classroom teachers can effectively select and even apply the instructional techniques to support ELL students’ literacy learning by integrating the fundamentals of English language development with an in-depth understanding of the reading process and its related methodologies or strategies. The ELL classroom teachers can be highly successful if they make instructional programs which demonstrate high expectations for all students by teaching the content and high order skills required in the state standards. They can also provide interactive and scaffolded support to help all the ELL students in reaching the state standard expectations. The instructional programs should also Integrate literacy instruction and language learning across the curriculum by focusing on instructional strategies and comprehensible input appropriate for the ELL student’s English proficiency level (Lessow-Hurle, 2003)

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