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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Newcomer Needs – Reaching our ELL students

Judy Edwards and Cheryl Jolley presented a series of workshops on ELL Newcomers with Information and Strategies.  Part of the S.D.A.I.E. summer workshops held at Trevecca Nazarene University, these workshops were intended to help a broader range of educators work with immigrants who have been in the U.S. less than one year.

S.D.A.I.E. stands for Specifically Designed Academic Instruction in English. The Office of English Language Learners in MNPS offers several 3,5, and 6 day courses for educators. Mr. Littlefield’s page  offers an explanation of some of what is covered in these workshops.

Judy and Cheryl teach at the International Newcomer Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. They have trained my faculty in Thinking Maps and train others in A Path to Proficiency for English Language Learners, KAGAN Cooperative Learning, and Balanced Literacy. 

One aspect of their workshop that I appreciated was their specifying which teaching techniques were used throughout the day including:

  • Circle Maps
  • Multi-Flow Maps
  • Stand-Up, Hand-up, Pair-Up
  • Create/Assess Prior Knowledge
  • Show Me with Yes/No cards
  • Shared Reading
  • Energizers with Magic
  • Sort
  • Line Up
  • Energizers with Signatures
  • Mix-N-Match
  • Color Coding
  • Double Bubble Maps
  • Visuals
  • Auditory Cues

Stephen Krashen’s Stages of Second Language Acquisition (Krashen & Terrell, 1983) were shared with an explanation of Terrell’s Taxonomy. This helped us understand which Higher Order Thinking Skills could be used at each stage of acquisition:

  1. Pre-Production (Silent period)
  2. Beginner (Early Production)
  3. Intermediate (Speech Emergence)
  4. Early Advanced (Intermediate Fluency)
  5. Advanced Transitioning (Advanced Fluency)

This simple chart helped me visually understand why some of the activities I have attempted in the past were so difficult with newcomer students. My students aren’t ready to justifyl, complete, defend, debate, analyze, evaluate, and describe in detail until they read the Early Advanced and Advanced Transitioning stages – usually 5-7 years down the road.

Some of the helpful websites and sources they mentioned include:

One of the best handouts illustrated the concepts of surface culture vs. deep culture. Based upon Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture and a pdf chart from the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of English Language Learning & Migrant Education.

According to Erickson, teachers of English Language Learners are effective when they:

  1. have professional support
  2. have adequate theoretical preparation from working with second language learners
  3. assume an advocacy role for their students
  4. have a sense of mission
  5. have control over their physical environments

Another helpful chart came from How to Teach Reading. Dale & O’Rourke (1986) and Nagy (1988) identified four levels of word recognition for students:

      Level Four Full Word Knowledge Students understand the meaning of the word and how it changes in different contexts
    Level Three Partial Word Knowledge Students know the word in context and can use it in their writing. 
  Level Two Initial Recognition Students recognize the word and may be able to pronounce it, but they do not know its meaning.
Level One Unknown Word Students cannot read or recognize the word. 

Check out this article by Dr. Sebastian Wren on vocabulary also.

The handout of “Questioning Techniques for English Language Learners” enabled me to better understand how to involve my Newcomer students. I will assume that Judy Edwards and Cheryl Jolley created this list since there is no citation on the handout. They did encourage me to share it with my faculty.

Stage 1: Pre-Production/Pre-Functional *commands rather than questions

  • Point to the ______________
  • Find the _________________
  • Clap your hands if this is a _________________.
  • Put the _____________ on the _________________.
  • Touch the _________________.
  • Turn around and point to the _________________.

Stage 2: Beginner * one word response

    • Is ______ wearing green? (Yes or No)
    • What color is the giraffe?
    • What do I have in my hand?
    • Is this hot or cold? (Either / Or)
    • Are you tired or hungry? (Either / Or)

Stage 3: Intermediate * phrases, short responses

  •  How is the ______ today?
  • How do you care for a _________?
  • Tell me about your ___________?
  • What are you going to buy at the store?
  • Are you ___________?
  • Did you __________?

Stage 4: Early Advanced * independent thinking

  •  What do you think of this story? Why?
  • How will it end?
  • What would happen if _______?
  • Which do you like best? Why?
  • Make up a skit about your day at the _______.

Now don’t you readers wish you had been attending this training with me? There was so much more occurring in this session and so much more to learn. Hopefully I will be a better teacher this year.