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ELL Students & the Social Context of Learning

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Julie Thompson

on 1 August 2013

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Transcript of ELL Students & the Social Context of Learning

ELL Students & the Social Context of Learning
Top 10 languages spoken by ELLs in VT schools:
Maay Maay
U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030, 40% of the student population will be ELLs.
In Vermont:
1998: 892 ELLs enrolled in VT schools
2009: 1,700 ELLs enrolled in VT schools
= 90.6% increase in 11 years
(VT Dept. of Ed.)
A few ideas:
Eric Jensen (brain researcher):

When students feel threatened, the brain is put on alert--defense mechanisms and behaviors are activated, which is great for survival, but not for learning.

Language learners function best in a low-stress environment.
The affective filter:
A screen of emotion that can block language acquisition or learning if it keeps the student from being too self-conscious or too embarrassed to take risks when they speak.

3 main variables that affect language learning:


Level of anxiety
How can we create an optimal learning environment for language learners (establish a low affective filter)?
--Make the classroom structure predictable for students

--Use fewer idioms (or explain what they mean)
(“She gave him the cold shoulder.” “He’s a good egg.”)

--Don’t assume that all students have had a “common experience”—acknowledge cultural differences.

Most importantly:
Build relationships with individual students/their families.
BHS Student Protests, April 2012

Candlin, C., & Mercer, N. (Eds.). (2001). English Language Teaching in its Social
Context: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Ferlazzo, Larry. (2010). English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies that Work.
Santa Barbara: Linworth.

Shapiro, Shawna. (2012). “‘Voices from the ESL Ghetto’: Racial Identity, Imagined
Community, and Educational Critique among Refugee/Immigrant Youth” [Talk/PowerPoint]. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College.

Syrja, Racel Carrillo. (2011). How to Reach and Teach English Language Learners.
Somerset: Jossey-Bass.

Washburn, Gay N. (2008). “Alone, Confused, and Frustrated: Developing Empathy and
Strategies for Working with English Language Learners.” The Clearing House, 81(6), 247-250.

Zehler, Annette. (1994). “Working With English Language Learners: Strategies for
Elementary and Middle School Teachers.” NCBE Program Information Guide Series (National Clearing House for English Language Acquisition), 19, 1-17.
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