LITERACY PROGRAM CONSULTING: ON-SITE TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS
A convenient and efficient on-site program would consist of six two hours sessions over a period of six weeks. This would include an initial session dealing with theory and an analysis of the needs of the students. Subsequent sessions would involve an intensive study of lessons in language acquisition and core subjects. The sessions would analyze objectives, methodology, lesson design and formative/summative assessment. Weekly sessions provide the opportunity for classroom application, evaluation and discussion.
LESSON DEVELOPMENT / CURRICULUM ANALYSIS / ASSESSMENT
Textbooks don’t always take into account the profile of our learners. For example, I have seen no language development program for the high percentage of children who arrive with limited schooling, or no schooling, in their country. They are not ready for the language text they are given. Also, what can the teacher do when the class has a textbook that they can’t read? The teacher must design the content and the delivery of the lessons so that objectives are achievable. Then, the only assessment that will help improve instruction is that which the teacher prepares. This is the type of support needed, in particular, by new teachers or teachers new to ESL classrooms.
CONSULTING FOR ADMINISTRATORS
Judging a teacher by student performance on the objectives of a publisher’s text isn’t always an accurate assessment. Administrators must become sensitive to the process of language acquisition and how this process links to the ability to access concepts in all core areas. This understanding will help the administrator support both the teacher and the learner.
- Inherent areas of difficulty in acquiring English.
There are basic structures in the English language that do not exist in other languages. Rules and grammar is not a viable approach. We must employ inductive methods of instruction.
- Applying the “Natural Order of Language Acquisition” to ESL methodology.
What is the normal order of acquisition of English for the English learner? This normal process of acquiring grammar, language concepts and vocabulary should guide our language development curriculum.
- Low literacy and illiteracy in the EL learner.
This is one of the most ignored areas of ESL curriculum and instruction. These learners cannot read or write in their own language. Yet, what is placed in front of them in a beginning ESL class? A text in another language! (This can represent 25-30% of a classroom.)
- The effects of an impoverished environment on the ESL and the EO learner.
Both will need a curriculum that is directed at supporting underdeveloped areas of prior knowledge. Without this effort, vocabulary knowledge will be difficult to acquire, and concepts even more difficult.
- The LEP vs. the NES learner.
There is a difference between the student who went through our elementary system, and the newly arrived non-English speaker. There are three levels of learners in each category. We must understand them and be prepared for their instructional needs.
- Phonics, vocabulary and syntax in early ESL methodology.
There is a lack of consensus on the methods of instruction of phonics and vocabulary. Syntax, the acquisition of English as a normal thought process, has not been specifically approached in any text that I have seen. These are the necessary basic building blocks.
- Discrete vs. conceptual vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
Vocabulary through visuals is taught in abundance. How do you teach vocabulary that cannot be visualized, vocabulary that is a concept? Thinking is accomplished through vocabulary. Lack of conceptual vocabulary means lack of conceptual thinking.
- Internalizing syntax: Listening also requires decoding for comprehension.
Decoding occurs in reading, and it also occurs in listening. It involves the semantic clues that guide you through a sentence and give it meaning. I have seen no research dedicated to this critical area of comprehension.
- Strategies and activities in reading that maximize comprehension.
Textbooks for the EL learner are usually beyond their reading ability. This means homework they can’t do and tests that they can’t prepare for. What can the teacher do to make the text a viable resource for learning?
- Classroom assessment that evaluates the four domains and verifies cognition.
My theoretical graph posits that the listening skill prepares the reading skill, and the speaking skill prepares the writing skill. What assessments must be employed to inform the teacher that the foundations are established for the academic skills?
- Differentiated instruction and the need for differentiated assessment.
We are seeing extensive commentary (not research) in differentiated instruction. We are not seeing comparable investigation into differentiated assessment. If we have one, it is logical that we must have the other.