Straight Talk about Language Diversity in the

Aja LaDuke
University of Connecticut
TNE Beginning Teacher Conference
September 27, 2008
◦ ELL Trivia Quiz
◦ Thinking Around Language Diversity
◦ Policies
 Bilingual Education Act and Lau vs. Nichols
 English-Only Policies / Elimination of Bilingual
Political principles
◦ “Immigrants who came here to enjoy the blessings
of America have a patriotic obligation to speak
America’s language.”
Ethnic paranoia
◦ “English may be spreading throughout the world,
but Spanish is taking over the U.S.A.”
Family legends
◦ “My great-grandfather came to this country
without a word of English and he succeeded
without bilingual education.”
Conventional wisdom
◦ “The best way to teach English is ‘total immersion,’
the earlier the better, because young children can
easily ‘pick up’ a second language.
The Bilingual Education Act authorized funding to
provide support for children who were both poor and
“educationally disadvantaged because of their
inability to speak English” through programming,
instructional materials, and teacher training. The
Bilingual Education Act did not require schools to
provide instruction in another language.
What is really meant by “Bilingual Education” here?
In the 1974 Lau vs. Nichols Supreme Court case
Chinese-speaking students in San Francisco claimed
their right to receive additional linguistic support in
school, citing this lack of support as a violation of their
civil right to an educational experience equal to that of
their native English speaking peers. The ruling fell in
favor of Lau and deemed “sink or swim” education for
English learners as unacceptable.
Dual-Language Schools
 Curriculum delivered in two languages, typically a 50/50
 May include native speakers of English only, or native
speakers of other languages
 Often private schools
Two-Way Bilingual Education
 Serve language majority and minority students simultaneously
 Encourage socialization / learning about respective cultures
 Models vary – 90/10, 80/20, 60/40
Maintenance Bilingual Education (or developmental)
◦ One-way = one language group receiving schooling in two
◦ Maintain native language of language minority group and
develop positive attitude toward native culture while learning
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE)
◦ Providing native language instruction only temporarily in
order to foster English skills
◦ Pull out or integrated
Bilingual structured immersion
 Most instruction in English except first hour of day –
explanations in native language, teach native language literacy
 Students allowed to use native language even though
instruction is in English
English structured immersion
 Also known as Sheltered Immersion
 Minority language groups segregated into English classrooms
 Language simplified, non-linguistic supports used
 Most aligned with current monolingual ideologies
 1998 - Proposition 227
Similar legislature
 Arizona – 2000
 Massachusetts – 2002
Other states
 Connecticut has not mandated English-only programs, but has
eliminated bilingual teacher certification
 What
about English learners in my
◦ Do I need to know all of the languages
represented by my students in order to teach
What do I need to know?
◦ Stages of Language Acquisition
◦ Conversational vs. Academic Language
◦ Recognizing how students are using their literacy knowledge in their
first language to learn English
◦ Recognizing misconceptions of bilingualism
◦ Realize that instructional strategies to enhance learning for English
learners, enhances learning for ALL students
◦ Be aware of implicit messages about language value
Stage I: The Silent/Receptive or Preproduction Stage: This stage can last
from 10 hours to six months. Students often have up to 500 "receptive"
words (words they can understand, but may not be comfortable using) and
can understand new words that are made comprehensible to them. This
stage often involves a "silent period" during which students may not speak,
but can respond using a variety of strategies including pointing to an
object, picture, or person; performing an act, such as standing up or closing
a door; gesturing or nodding; or responding with a simple "yes" or "no."
Teachers should not force students to speak until they are ready to do so.
Stage II: The Early Production Stage: The early production stage can last
an additional six months after the initial stage. Students have usually
developed close to 1,000 receptive/active words (that is, words they are
able to understand and use). During this stage students can usually speak
in one- or two-word phrases, and can demonstrate comprehension of new
material by giving short answers to simple yes/no, either/or, or
who/what/where questions.
Stage III: The Speech Emergence Stage: This stage can last up to another year.
Students have usually developed approximately 3,000 words and can use short
phrases and simple sentences to communicate. Students begin to use dialogue and
can ask simple questions, such as "Can I go to the restroom?" and are also able to
answer simple questions. Students may produce longer sentences, but often with
grammatical errors that can interfere with their communication.
Stage IV: The Intermediate Language Proficiency Stage: Intermediate proficiency
may take up to another year after speech emergence. Students have typically
developed close to 6,000 words and are beginning to make complex statements,
state opinions, ask for clarification, share their thoughts, and speak at greater
Stage V: The Advanced Language Proficiency Stage: Gaining advanced
proficiency in a second language can typically take from five to seven years. By this
stage students have developed some specialized content-area vocabulary and can
participate fully in grade-level classroom activities if given occasional extra support.
Students can speak English using grammar and vocabulary comparable to that of
same-age native speakers.
 Lupe’s
 Research in early 1900’s supported theories that bilingualism
caused mental retardation and failure in schools
“You are not going to speak Portuguese to him, are you? You
know, if you speak Portuguese to him, he’ll end up in special
Over-representation in Special Education
 Making
curriculum accessible to bilingual students &
English language learners
 Demonstrating sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity
 Providing relevant background knowledge
 Analyzing material into content knowledge, academic
 Including language development and content vocabulary
development objectives and activities
 Using additional resources
Develop culturally, linguistically responsive teaching
◦ Use culturally relevant literature for better student
◦ Modify and adapt lessons to include culturally, linguistically
relevant information and examples to enhance student
Include both language development and content
vocabulary development
◦ Language development = curricular modifications to evoke
talking, reading, writing at students’ current level of English
◦ Vocabulary development
 Less is more!
 To teach new concepts, use known vocabulary
 To teach new vocabulary, use known concepts
 This is effective for all students – native speakers as well as
bilingual/ELL students
 Not watered down, just more manageable
 Vocabulary
development (cont.)
Use of cognates
Education / Educación (English / Spanish)
Many cognates across content areas
Examples of lesson with both language and content
Grade: Fourth
Content Area: Reading
Time Frame of Unit: Ten 90-minute lessons
Unit Theme: Understanding Characters
Guiding Questions
How do writers, readers, and actors bring characters to life?
How can readers use textual clues to create mental images and interpret characters’ moods and actions?
How do readers use schemas to understand characters?
How are traditions similar/different between cultures?
How do cultural traditions shape our perspectives/upbringing?
Big Ideas
Readers create mental images of characters’ personae and actions, based on aspects of text.
Readers can better understand a text by thinking about and discussing characters’ motivations and relationships to other
Readers can use prior knowledge to understand characters.
Different cultures have their own portrayals of the same character or legend, but some elements are universal.
Background/Prior Knowledge to be Activated in the Unit
Experience with the performance of stories, such as books read aloud and theater productions
Familiarity with various types of characters from fairy tales, legends, and popular children’s fiction
Knowledge of cultural elements (in particular, specific characters) associated with traditional holidays
Content Area Skills and Concepts
Making and confirming predictions about text using prior knowledge and textual clues, such as titles, topic sentences,
key words, and foreshadowing
Visualizing—creating images of setting, characters, and events—based on aspects of text
Drawing inferences about cause and effect
Identifying thoughts, words, or actions that reveal characters’ personality traits
Language Skills
Reading aloud with appropriate expression and fluency
Understanding vocabulary: mental image, schema, foreshadowing, visualize, mood, character, traits
Understanding idioms and exaggerated descriptions of characters in the text
Use study resource guides appropriate for bilingual and
English learners
◦ Maximize use of visual aids, photographs, slides, sketches,
videotapes, etc.
◦ Provide concrete, hands-on experiences to increase bilingual learners’
 In and out of classroom setting
 Use graphic depictions, representations, realia
 Use audiotapes
Provide models of fluent speech
Reading and listening to text at same time lowers cognitive overload
 Provide live demonstrations/modeling
 Use alternate/supplemental books – picture books, etc.
Reinforcement of English only practices sends clear messages
about value of native language and culture, and in turn identity
Deficit perspectives often manifest themselves in the ways that
English language learners and students of color in general are
labeled in schools. These labels have a profound effect on identity
development for these students.
 “at risk”
 “developmentally delayed”
 “not ready to learn”
In practice, dual language programs despite missions to give 50/50
attention to each language, favor English
Example – “We are here to learn.”