Wednesday, January 25, 2012

English Language Learners and Academic English

Question: How can teachers equip English Learners (who are not native speakers of English) with the academic skills needed in content area classes?

Response: “Susana Dutro is a founding partner of E.L. Achiev e (, an organization dedicated to assisting educators in equipping English learners for academic achievement.”  P. 339.

Question: What are some of the challenges facing adolescent English learners?

Dutro: “Many have achieved adequate fluency in everyday language, yet they struggle with advanced reading and writing, lack depth of vocabulary and syntactical knowledge, and are not yet equipped with sufficient English knowledge for academic tasks requiring complex inferences, analyses, hypotheses, and summaries. This lack of language proficiency and academic achievement can mask students’ potential to learn.” P. 339.

Comment: Dutro frames the problem succinctly: many English learners are relatively fluent in everyday English but do not have command of academic English, the English needed in school. RayS.

Question: “What approach do you take in meeting the academic language needs of adolescents who are learning English?”

 Dutro: “A well-designed program for English learners includes systematic instruction in the conventions of standard English along with explicit instruction in the discipline-specific language of core content areas….”

 Comment: Sounds good, but the author does not really help the ordinary classroom teacher achieve these goals, with this exception: RayS.

Dutro: “…the biology teacher shows student how to use word banks and sentence frames when responding. The students now have access to content terms such as vacuole and membrane as well as functional phrases like serve the purpose of and operate as.” P. 341.

Title: “Research Connections: Equipping Adolescent English Learners for Academic Achievement; An Interview with Susana Dutro and Ellen Levy.” S Dutro, E Levy and DW Moore. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (December 2011/January 2012), 339-342.

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