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Challenges That Face Teachers of English Language Learners - Paper Example

7 pages
1786 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Course work
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One of the greatest challenges that face teachers of English language learners (EEL) is making sure that every student progresses well in reading and writing in English. There are several questions that teachers often ask themselves. First, whether their students and their parents are going to work together collectively in helping the child meet the set goals especially in the learning process. Secondly, whether the teacher is going to have a strong and working relationship with his or her students and their respective parents. Thirdly, whether the students are going to understand what their teachers have taught them and put all that knowledge to use. Although there are many challenges and difficulties regarding education and the teaching process, teachers have formulated several strategies and techniques through which they help their students to succeed. Teachers should formulate effective teaching strategies that help EL learners in literacy development in social studies classroom.

Part 1: Analysis

Needs Analysis

Mr. OMalley is facing some challenges with two of his EEL students. Maria is a non-English speaking student and Mr. OMalley is unable to communicate with her properly. Although she has been his student for five months, her language proficiency has not improved. Mikhail is the second student. He has been in America for two years and speaks English in a fluent way. Although his level of English is okay, his writing ability is very poor. Learning a new language is a time-consuming process. Nonetheless, every teacher would like to see progress with his or her students.

There are five major stages of second language acquisition development. These stages are the pre-production stage, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency, and advanced fluency (Staehr & Kuhlman, 2012). Maria is still in the pre-production stage. It is also referred to as the silent period stage where students respond to pictures and visual aids. At this stage, the learner may have memorized around 500 words but they are unable to speak. These students understand and repeat gestures and movements to show that they have understood a message. Mikhail is in the intermediate fluency stage where the learner has a vocabulary of 6000 words (Staehr & Kuhlman, 2012). He or she expresses his or her thoughts and opinions openly and ask questions without fearing. Unfortunately, students at this stage have many errors especially with grammar and sentence structures.

Strategies that Mr. OMalley is using to help Maria and Mikhail

There are several techniques that Mr. OMalley is using to help Maria. First, he ensures that she has a classmate who is helping her and second, he includes her in all activities. These two strategies are effective since Maria is still in stage one and involving her in class activities will make her feel less overwhelmed with listening and reading a new language. Partnering her with a friend is also important since she will be freer and more open to a classmate compared to Mr. OMalley. Mikhail is on stage four of language development. Mr. OMalley helps Mikhail through giving him class assignments that have to be written in English. These strategies are effective since they address the problem that each of the student is facing. Marias reading skills will improve more as she continues conversing with her classmate friend frequently whereas the technique used on Mikhail focuses more on learning strategies thus preventing him from translating written assignments from his native language.

Theories and research in ELL development

There are several theories and research of second language acquisition. These include social interaction and sociocultural theories, audiolingual approach, the natural approach, constructivism, acquisition model, and interlanguage hypothesis (Curtin, 2009). Mr. OMalley is using the natural approach that involves the use of strategies such as gestures, repletion, practical skills, and visual cues (Curtin, 2005). There are also methods that Mr. OMalley would use in helping his students to comprehend vocabulary better. He also uses the List-Group-Label method (this is under social interactionist and socio-cultural model theory) that enables English language learners to brainstorm thus helping them to add knowledge to what they already knew. This strategy helps learners to use and exercise their brains in the different language domains (Curtin, 2005). Learners are given study topics and writing assignments, and they are then expected to apply their cognitive skills by formulating words related to the study topic.

Part 2: Action Plan

Standards that address 6th grade English language development

English language standards help teachers in assessing and evaluating the progress that an EL student has made in attaining fluency in reading and writing in English. These standards differ with the students age and grade. The proficiency levels according to the common core state standards (CCSS) are beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced, and advanced (Staehr & Kuhlman, 2012). Standards that address 6th grade EL development, which may be useful to Maria and Mikhail, are CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.1 (concerned with conventions of Standard English and focuses on pronouns and strategies used to enhance expression in conventional language) and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.4 (concerned with language vocabularies, meaning of words and relationship between words).

Standard-based interventions for the two students

Standard-based interventions that would be most appropriate for Maria are CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.1 (focuses on conventions of Standard English) and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3 (focuses on knowledge of language). (Staehr & Kuhlman, 2012). Some of the interventions under CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.1 include the recognition of variations and differences from Standard English in their own and others writing and speaking. The teacher then develops strategies enhancing expression in conventional language. Under CCSA.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3, one intervention that should be used on Maria involves learning of new words and new ways of making sentences through interacting with her friend. These intervention activities will be effective since for Maria to achieve a substantial improvement in writing and reading in English it is critical to have a habit of reading as per CCSA.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3. Through creating a habit of reading, Maria can learn new words, new ways of making sentences, and most importantly can find new ideas to converse and speak.

For Mikhail, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.4 (vocabulary acquisition and use) and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3 would be the most appropriate. Some activities under these interventions include vocabulary acquisition and varying sentence patterns and styles and the interpretation of figures of speech. These intervention activities will be suitable for Mikhail since through reading and vocabulary acquisition, the language will become increasingly familiar, allowing Mikhaih to begin thinking in English. This will improve his grammar and eliminate grammatical errors. Another important activity under this intervention is finding topics that are of interest to the student to read or write about them. When choosing the books for the students to read, Mr. OMalley should take into account the interests of the students and the level of reading they have. It is essential to read about things that they like and that are within the level of English that they have, that is, to test enough to read and write new things but not enough to feel frustrated when they are writing or reading.

EEL theories in the standard-based interventions

Traditional theory approach, socio interactionist, and socio-cultural theory models all encourage interaction between the EL learner and the student. Socio interactionist theory encourages the use of interaction in improving language. One of the intervention activities in CCSA.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.3 is improving language speaking through constant practice of reading and conversing. Fluency is developed through reading and holding conversations while interacting. Reading comprehension becomes more difficult when reading word by word, therefore, to improve understanding it is crucial to develop fluency and read complete sentences. Improved fluency is achieved with the choice of more straightforward texts to read. Many times, when fluency improves, it improves reading and speech. Besides, fluency will make reading seem more fun and natural. The second intervention, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.1, applies the natural approach theory that encourages a teacher to motivate his or her EL learners. The teacher's abilities to encourage students to learn another language plays a fundamental role in helping them succeed. The lack of motivation leads to a decrease in concentration and effort and, ultimately, to fail to achieve success. Mr. OMalley can motivate Maria through several ways. One is developing the objectives of the class-learning group that will allow both students to set some personal goals (Curtin, 2005). Therefore, it is essential to simplify the curriculum and highlight the goals that must be met, using specific skills of the exercises and tasks. The use of small rewards when Maria makes a little progress acts as a motivation as well. The use of small rewards to positively reinforce the progress in learning would also be helpful. He should provide modest prizes for the winners of the group games and those who obtain high grades in their tasks. This will encourage both Maria and Mikhaih to work hard.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.4 intervention (for Mikhail) applies the constructivism approach theory that focuses on spaced repetition. It also encourages working on the sounds of letters, understand the meaning of phrases, search for words with specific sounds, and writing sentences with certain words. Beyond the first approach with the target words, the leaner finds the vocabulary again on different occasions and contexts, and this helps in fixing the new meanings both in the passive memory of vocabulary coma and in the memory of active use of it. At this stage, the teacher must develop material that allows the "spaced repetition" of the vocabulary throughout the course (Curtin, 2005). This would be highly beneficial to Mikhail. The approach takes into account the rhythm of maturational development of each child, reinforce and applaud their achievements, lean on drawings, and help them in building learning naturally since this promotes the taste and interest in reading, as a fundamental communication tool (Curtin, 2009). The other intervention activity is motivation and encouragement and applies for both Mikhail and Maria.

Strengths of Mr. OMalley

Mr. OMalley understands the students cultural background, cares about his students, understands the individual needs of students and encourages English conversations and involvement outside the classroom. These are some of his strengths. He is also positive, shows enthusiasm, has a positive energy and has an attitude of flexibility. The professional development that he can benefit most from is developing meaningful lessons that will appeal to the students interests and goals. These lessons will provide his EL students with the opportunity of using English language in different tasks and developing fluency without fearing making any mistakes. Students will be excited and will respond more positively to activities that lets them to use English.


There is no logical technique for the teaching of vocabulary or reading and writing. It is necessary that both the teacher and the language students find, through teamwork, the method or combination of techniques that better work for them whil...

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