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Learning and Not Learning English

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Natalie Irvan

on 1 May 2013

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Transcript of Learning and Not Learning English

Connections to Theory The author was trying to determine the effectiveness and appropriateness of the programs that are already in place for ELL students, especially those who enter the United States with no knowledge of the English language or a very minimal knowledge of the language. This seemed the underlying importance of the study that was conducted.

The author mentioned at the beginning of the text that this was not going to be a
book that has a happy ending and that it was not a very popular book due to the content that was provided. Throughout the text, the reader can get a sense that the programs that are in place for ELL students are highly inappropriate and not effective.

We can also draw from the text that there needs to be some changes made to the way we interact with and teach students who do not have prior knowledge of the English language. The author also wanted to provide the reader with information on how English learners adapt and survive based on the options, opportunities, and barriers that they are presented with. Manolo
12 Years Old
Mexico City Manolo was a 12 year old boy who moved from Mexico City to Mission Vista, California with his mother and 16 year old sister. They came to Mission Vista to join Manolo’s father and brother, who had been in the country working. Manolo completed the 6th grade in Mexico, however, his mother indicated that the schools he attended were not good. Manolo’s father had been a police officer in Mexico for 17 years but after problems with a superior, he left the police force and came to the US. The family lived in an apartment that was located in the better part of the immigrant sector in Mission Vista. Eventually, they bought a mobile home and moved to another community, and Manolo transferred to JFK Middle school. The study took place in three different middle schools over the course of two years in the greater San Francisco Bay Area of California. This study was funded by the National Center for Study of Writing at the University of California-Berkeley. It started in 1991 and involved four students who had just entered the United States from Mexico with no background in English. The purpose of this study was to examine how children who arrived in the United States with “zero” English learn to write in English (Valdes pg. 2) Findings and Recommendations The author and researcher found that the relationship between teaching and learning a language is not always straightforward. Learning a language is an extraordinarily complex process. One of the questions that needs to be answered is, “What kinds of classroom and school conditions can bring about the most rapid and most effective development of a second language?”

The students in this study had very limited access to English during the school day. They were mainly engaged with other ELL students and spent their time doing seat work which involved learning vocabulary or copying sentences. They did not participate in activities which would prepare them to develop the proficiencies they would need to succeed in mainstream courses. Elisa and Manolo made more progress than Lilian and Bernardo because they had opportunities outside of school to communicate in English with fluent speakers. Bernardo
13 Years Old
Mexico Bernardo is a 13 year old boy who moved from Mexico to join his father, who had been working in Mission Vista, California for a number of years. He also had a sister and baby sibling. Bernardo had completed the first year in middle school before moving. His parents were able to keep him in school and did not need him to work for family income. They lived in a shared apartment in the run down, immigrant part of Mission Vista. Although Bernardo’s parents wanted him in school, they expected him to take on the role of protector when his father was working. Because of this, Bernardo walked several miles each afternoon to escort his mother home from work.

Bernardo’s parents wanted him in school, however they knew little about American schools. Bernardo was a good student. He was eager to learn but not challenged at Garden Middle School. His teacher said very little about him mainly because he was so quiet and rarely spoke so she didn’t get to know him. He became discouraged by the lack of instruction and was ready to leave school after only a month. Elisa
12 Years Old
Honduras Elisa was a 12 year old girl from a small village in Honduras. Her mother had been in the United States for 8 years and was finally able to send for Elisa and her 11 year old sister. Elisa attended school in Honduras and spoke fondly of it. The family lived in a 2 bedroom apartment in Mission Vista and rented out the second bedroom to a young man who was newly arrived in the area. Elisa and her sister spent most afternoons and evenings at home while their mother, Magda, worked several jobs. The girls had very strict rules they followed while their mother worked. They were expected to go home right after school, stay in the apartment, watch TV, and complete their homework. Latino Students in American Schools Learning and Not Learning English Joni Harvill, Natalie Irvan, Cynthia Morgan, and Christina Dasher Guadalupe Valdes also wanted to find answers to the following questions from the results of this study:

1) How does writing develop in second-language learners;

2) How long does it take for the writing to develop;

3) Is it realistic to expect that at some point before high school graduation that second language learners who arrive here as young teens will be able to write like native speakers of English? (pg. 2) The study began in a single middle school but evolved to include two other middle schools due to the transfer of two students in the focal group to different schools. This study also includes four different ESL teachers and numerous subject-matter teachers who taught the focal children of the study. Guadalupe Valdes and Rosa Isela Rodriguez, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of California-Berkeley, would visit the school two to three times a week during the two years the study took place. They would observe by sitting in the classrooms and tape-recording and/or taking notes of all activities and events that the focal students participated in. They would interact with groups when allowed to do so, and when visiting the schools they would follow the students to their classes only focusing on one focal student per visit. According to http://www.freit.org, an average of 80,000 to 110,000 illegal immigrants per year from Mexico entered California from 1985 to 2004.

During the early 1990s most of the immigrants from Mexico were illegal immigrants. According to a chart on The PewResearch Hispanic Center website, (http://www.pewhispanic.org) from the report on Migration from Mexico from April of 2012 the average of illegal and legal Mexican immigrants around 1991 that migrated to the United States was around 370,000. Lilian
12 years old
Mexico Lilian is a 12 year old girl who moved from a small village in Mexico. She lived a very sheltered life and played and laughed like most little girls. Upon arriving in Mission Vista, California she was seen as a mature adolescent because of her striking features. She quickly became aware of the attention from the males in the classroom. She moved from Mexico with her older brother, sister, and younger twin brothers. Her mother had another baby after arriving in California. Lilian lived in a crowded apartment with two other families and relatives. There were a total of 13 people sharing a one bathroom apartment! Lilian’s father had worked in the US for ten years and went between the states and his Mexican village during different seasons. After bringing his family to Mission Vista, Lilian and her siblings weren’t accustomed to their father’s authority and many tensions developed in the home. Lilian’s mother had to find work to help support their family and had little time to spend with her children. Family was important to Lilian’s parents but their lower income made it difficult for her parents to be active in her childhood. Manolo’s mother was eager to learn English and attended adult school to take classes. Manolo’s family had relatives in the Mission Vista area who had been in the United States for many years and spoke English well. When Manolo spent time with his cousins, they interacted primarily in English. Because of their relatives, Manolo’s family enjoyed advantages that other immigrant families didn’t have, including access to English and information about how things worked in this country.

Manolo was well behaved, self- assured, and liked by his teachers at Garden Middle School. He saw himself as knowing a little more than his peers and was reluctant to interact with less proficient classmates. His teachers considered him bright, but lazy. More on Manolo Assessments and Results upon Entry to Garden Middle School

Reading and Writing in Spanish:
· Competently read and summarized a 2nd grade Spanish textbook

· Writing was very elementary-more typical of a 2nd grade student

· Did not punctuate or use initial capital letters



Beginning English –Language Abilities:
· Oral language abilities were more advanced than the other focal students

· Provided all personal, family, and daily routine information and role played the part of a customer in a store

· Read and summarized an article in English

· Produced a text in English talking about Halloween that expressed two ideas Experiences at Garden & JFK Middle Schools · Had little access to English at Garden Middle School.

· Placed in NEP (non-English proficient) core for 3 periods and sheltered math, computer, & science classes
during 1st year

· Placed in 3 mainstream classes during 2nd year, but struggled due to lack of experience in reading academic English

· Spent most of his time with other ELL students similar to himself

· Transferred to JFK Middle School during 2nd year

· At JFK, teachers had high expectations and pushed students to use English proficiencies.

· Had access to English in all classes

· Interacted with peers mainly in English Summary and Observations on Manolo

· Made excellent progress in acquiring English

· Could communicate in English both orally and in writing

· Could participate in conversations about himself, role play different situations, and summarize what he read in English

At Garden Middle School, Manolo was very confident and saw himself as better than his peers. However, he was never challenged as
his ELL teacher, Mrs. Gordon spent a lot of time on worksheets and structures of English.

When he transferred to JFK, a more affluent school with a different philosophy on educating ELL students, he lost confidence in his abilities.
Although he was acquiring English at a steady pace, he did not have the same background and advantages as many of his peers.
He did go on to graduate from high school but was not motivated and stayed on the “low-track”.

After graduating, he ended up working in a small grocery store owned by a family member. Beginning English Writing Sample:
This is the naigt the Hallowen much people go to the strets for candies much people have mask
the mommy, bat, or dracula ay like mask the bat or much more mask.

Writing Sample at the End of the 1st year:
I like Michael Jackson because I like ohw he dance he’s very good dancing sometimes I want to dance
like him and he’s good singing too Magda was very interested in her girls learning English and tried to get as much information as she could to help her children. She was well known at Garden Middle School where the girls attended. She stood out because unlike most Latina immigrant mothers, she volunteered occasionally and was able to communicate with the teachers in English. She was even offered a job as a teacher’s aid, however she lacked essential skills and abilities in academic English to continue. She also began working toward getting a GED but became discouraged and dropped out.

Elisa had strong connections to the English speaking world which included her stepfather, a teacher from her school who developed a friendship with her mother, and a church youth organization. She had many opportunities to hear English and engage in genuine communication with English speakers outside of school.

Elisa was quiet and well behaved in school. She took her school work seriously and was very concerned about doing things correctly. Because Elisa was so well behaved, her teacher payed little attention to her and had little sense of how she was progressing with the English language. More on Elisa... Assessments and results upon entry into Garden Middle School Reading and Writing in Spanish:

· Read and summarized a 6th grade science textbook
· Writing lacked transitions and reflected minimal use of capitalization and punctuation but was able to provide information on the topic given
· Attempted to address a philosophical issue in writing which is common among Latin Americans


Beginning English –Language Abilities:

· Knew very little English
· Could understand more than she could produce
· Could give some information about herself with support
· Read an article in English and used real-world knowledge and cognates to obtain a general sense of the article
· English writing was very elementary-
· Produced a listing of words both related and unrelated
· Willing to take chances and use existing literary skills to attempt to read in English Experiences at Garden Middle School · Had little access to English at at Garden Middle School

· Placed in NEP (non-English proficient) core for 3 periods and 3 sheltered courses

·NEP core teacher focused mainly on language structure and isolated vocabulary

· Kept in same ESL class both years.

· Attempted to place herself in situations where she could be spoken to in English

· Became more confident and was considered a leader during her 2nd year

· Was placed in a mainstream math class where she experienced difficulties because she lacked the background she needed Summary and Observations At the end of 2 years Elisa:
· Could display information, recount events, express opinions and feelings both orally and in writing

· Confidently answered all personal questions and was successful in role-playing several parts

· Read all materials presented to her with ease and provided summaries

Elisa entered school eager and ready to learn English. She commented that, “English was very important to her mother”. Although, Elisa made great progress in English, at the end of the 2 years in middle school, her writing still had many grammatical errors and from a mainstream perspective was deemed non-native like.

Elisa wanted to attend college and was disappointed when her middle school teacher recommended the ESL track at the high school, not because of Elisa’s English proficiencies but because she had not finished the last book of the ESL textbook series. After finishing high school, Elisa took an English placement test at a local college and was told she would have to enroll in a sequence of ESL courses before she would be eligible for college credit classes. Elisa's Writing Samples Beginning English Writing Sample:

Thes tha paper My mother is Magda Thes tha father Thes tha mother family Thes tha girl Thes tha baby Thes tha door Thes tha window Thes tha mesuring spoon Thes tha spatula o turner Thes tha postre Thes tha measurins cup Thes tha teacher Thes tha sister Thes tha brother Thes that granmother Thes tha name Thes tha period

Writing Sample at the End of the 2nd year: (written to a friend at church)

friend is a big gift that life give to people And here I got, one of the bigest pressents, you has a friendIf you could see trough my heart you would see a light shining every singale minuete that I think about you this light means our friendship our beautiful friden ship. And my heart and me, have decidedo to keep it. Assessments and results upon entry into Garden Middle School Academic Spanish Levels:

· Read and summarized a Spanish-language newspaper in a few sentences.

·His writing in Spanish was extensive with typical spelling confusions of Spanish speaking students

· He produced complete sentences but little punctuation or transition words

Bernardo stated, “writing assignments at his other school were mainly copying text word for word.”



English –Language Abilities:

· Proficiency was close to zero *see example

· Responds with one word

·Was able to use real world knowledge to guide his understanding Experiences at Garden Middle School Bernardo had little access to English speaking peers at school.

He was placed and remained in sheltered classes even though he made progress. Summary and Observations At Garden School, Bernardo wasn’t challenged and was given a lot of worksheets for instruction. He wanted to learn and worked hard but was discouraged from lack of new learning. He had little access to English peers at school and was placed in sheltered classes. He considered quitting school.

At the end of the first year at Garden Middle School, Bernardo’s performance was poor. After 5 months of English exposure his knowledge of the language was still limited. By the end of the second year, Bernardo‘s writing development moved slowly. He had continued to be enrolled in ESL core classes and had only written simple sentences.

Bernardo’s academic background in Spanish had not helped him transfer his Spanish to English. He was not taught skills or strategies. Outside of school, Bernardo lived in a Spanish speaking world. He was seen as dependable and competent by his family but had little respect at school. He was placed in ESL classes in HS. He worked hard and took school seriously. He had a full time job in HS and helped support his family. Practical Applications We as teachers must be willing to collaborate with those who work within our schools' ESOL programs to ensure we are providing the best instruction for our students. We cannot allow fear of the unknown or change to hold us back from learning how to best serve our students. Unlike the teachers at Garden Middle, we need to be willing to accept feedback on best practices when teaching English Language Learners.

As regular classroom teachers, even with the best intentions, we may not be fully prepared to implement the appropriate instruction for our English Language Learners. We need to be willing to think outside the box to gather resources, materials, and engage in research in order to improve our knowledge and practice.

If students are able to develop positive relationships with their teachers, it makes a huge impact on their drive for success. We need to be advocates for our students to ensure they are receiving the most appropriate instruction. We also need to speak up on behalf of the teachers to be better prepared to teach these students in the best way possible. We believe this should begin in the teacher education program and continue through professional development opportunities and staff collaboration. Bernardo's Writing Samples Beginning Writing Sample for Bernardo: pele have friends played soccer pele he played for the New York Pele played his first Pele He became a millionaire He was the most famous

Ending Writing Sample for Bernardo: Bernardo Mi name is Bernardo Salas have 13 I’m lake play soccer. Mi love fathe, mothe, sisters counsin and uncle At Garden Middle School Lilian pouted, was impatient, and made no attempt to make friends. The only person she interacted with was another mature, well-developed girl the same age. She appeared to be tough, although she was guarded and cautious. As the teacher gave instruction she acted bored but then carefully watched the others during assignments before beginning. When asked a question, Lilian would give the wrong answer and laugh as though she didn’t care. Her teacher wondered if she was learning disabled. More on Lilian Assessments and results upon entry into Garden Middle School Spanish proficiency assessment:
Read a 3rd grade textbook from Mexico schools and gave a short summary
Writing about herself in Spanish contained words not properly segmented
Her writing was considered simple with little punctuation


English-Language assessment:
English was almost nonexistent
Only knew a few basic words- dog, cat, ice cream- but understood little
She would attempt to use headings, illustrations, etc. to gain meaning from text Experiences at Garden Middle School At the end of the first year she was not able to engage in interaction asking for personal information.

She could understand more questions, but could not respond in English.

Lilian was placed and remained in sheltered classes Summary and Observations She arrived in Mission Vista with important reading and writing abilities in Spanish.

Her abilities in English only improved slightly at the end of the first year. She became a behavior problem and an aggressive teenager. Writing Samples for Lilian Beginning Writing sample for Lilian:

meyamo lilian nasi en Mexico Tengo 13 anos soi buena jente
mis padres son Mexicanos no Tengo novio megusta mucho ir Amisa megusta mucho la amistad
Tan....
(my name is Lilian I was born in Mexico I am 13 I’m a nice person my parents are Mexican I don’t
have a boyfriend I like....


Ending Writing Sample: Hi! Bak Telephone Namer Door wvindow Dor clak boy bebe haus cap map Recommendation 3 All school personnel must be involved in creating a context in which English-language learners have access to not only academic language but also interpersonal language.

English learners need to be able to communicate with native English speakers through academic exchanges and personal exchanges.
A cooperative climate between mainstream teachers and ESL teachers must exist for this work appropriately. Recommendation 2 Programs for English learners must be a school-wide initiative in which all teachers are responsible.

English learners must be the responsibility of all teachers within the school system not just the ESL teachers.
A school language policy should be created and should focus on language as the central instrument in learning. This policy should be created using the views and thoughts of all stakeholders and an action plan should be implemented that addresses key issues. Recommendation 1
ELL students must be offered ESL courses that are designed to develop their academic English needed for unrestricted access to grade appropriate instruction in challenging academic subjects.

ESL classes in which activities center primarily on language structure and isolated vocabulary will not help students to develop academic language proficiency.

The most effective ESL classes are those that integrate both language and content. Recommendation 5 Teaching and learning must build on the existing academic strengths of immigrant students.

Schools should advocate for the creation of a national database of school programs in other countries. This would help the teacher know and understand how to use the knowledge that the student already has in their native language so they can adapt that knowledge to English.

One way we can help students build upon their existing academic strengths is to teach language-learning and meta-cognitive strategies. These strategies can help English learners how to catch on in a mainstream classroom. Recommendation 6 Students must be given access to the curriculum while they are learning English.

Students should not be allowed to fall behind in subject-matter areas while they are learning English. Recommendation 4 Schools must find ways to eliminate the isolation of English-learning students.

When English learners are only surrounded with other English learners, they will face challenges. It will be difficult for them to acquire both academic and conversational English.

Schools must make a conscious effort to end the isolation of immigrant students. One way schools can achieve this is by grouping students who are native speakers of English with the students who are English learners. Recommendation 7 Policies must be changed to prevent English-learners from being released from an ESL program at one school only to place them in the same program at another school.

This can be due to mainstream teachers and administrators who see certain areas such as writing or low standardized test scores as reasons for placing a student in the ESL program when other factors should also be considered. Assessments & Results Experiences at Garden Middle
and JFK Middle Schools... At the end of 2 Years.... Writing Samples from Manolo Assessments & Results for Elisa Experiences at Garden Middle School At the end of the 2 years... Writing Samples from Elisa Assessments & Results Experiences at Garden Middle School At the End of 2 Years... Writing Samples for Bernardo Assessments & Results on Lilian Experiences at Garden Middle School At the end of 2 years... Writing Samples for Lilian Practical Applications In regards to English Language Learners, peer collaboration is essential not only for academic growth, but also to build social skills and language needed to interact within society. ELLs will thrive in an environment where they are not secluded from native English speakers. As teachers, we cannot shy away from the curriculum, but instead provide our students with meaningful content in which they can directly apply to their lives. In addition, it's important to gain an accurate understanding of the knowledge our English Language Learners already have and build upon that knowledge. We should be moving them forward in the content, not pushing them backward. If they are learning content they already know, they will be unmotivated and discouraged, such as the case of Bernardo in the text.

Understanding our students' culture and family is also extremely important. We need to be aware of the family background in order to understand where the student is in their language development (i.e. if they have any level of exposure to English outside of the classroom). Positive involvement with the parents of these students is vital as well to educate the parents on the importance of their students' education. We should equip them with resources so they are able to support their student. We have to understand that cultural values may be different, many cultures value family above education. Many of our students may be caring for younger siblings and household duties. Questions of the study: One aspect about the study that is very important to note is that Guadalupe Valdes lived on the border of Mexico and the United States. She crossed the border to attend school in a neighboring Texas City where she learned to read, write, and pray in English at an all-girls Catholic school. After school was over, she would cross the border back to Mexico and be immersed in the Mexican culture.

This study was one that she was highly invested in given her and her mother’s background as second-learners of the English language. In addition, the United States is currently the world's leader as the destination for immigrants. Continue to see chart. The following slides
include seven
recommendations from the author/researcher to inform practice and policy debates about programs for newly arrived immigrant students. Valdes, G. (2001). Learning and Not Learning English: Latino Students in American Schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Context of Study Teaching Outside the Box:
Just some final thoughts...
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