In this module we studied some of the issues and concerns that are related to basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP), how to evaluate the speaking and listening skills of our students, some of the supports that can be given when working with subject-specific content, how to scaffold our lessons to make them more accessible for our ELL students, and different cooperative tasks that can be used in the classroom to encourage collaboration among our students. From this module there were a few items that stood for me for my learning/teaching of ELLs. The first one was the difference between the type of language that our students will be exposed to in their daily lives.
image source: http://www.witslanguageschool.com/Portals/0/Images/Bics_4.jpg
When learning a new language is studied, the learner will typically develop basic interpersonal communication (BIC) first since this is deeply rooted in the every day communication that we are exposed to. This type of communication is context based and uses many high frequency words. Typically people become fluent in BIC within a few years but it will take them much longer to develop cognitive academic language. Cognitive academic language proficiency requires the ELL to learn to talk, read and write about abstract concepts while using low frequency vocabulary that might be abstract to them. This will require them to not only develop a new type of vocabulary but it will require the ELL to think differently. As a high school teacher, it is important that I remember that I am expecting students to respond to questions that contain terms like “explain”, “discuss”, “hypothesize”, “generate”, “draw conclusions”, etc which are typically only used in an academic setting. If I am going to have these expectations, then it is important that I expose and model these types of processes for my students. Many of my fluent English speaking students have not mastered these expectation/vocabulary demands and it is even more abstract for our ELL students.
image source: https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ell_02_bics_calp.jpg
The second artifact from this module is the type of learning goals that we have in our classrooms. In addition to learning the curriculum our ELL students are expected to be picking up the language at the same time. Therefore we should develop meaningful goals for them to support not only the curriculum content but also their progression in their language acquisition. These learning objectives should allow the ELL students to be exposed to, practice, and then be assessed on their language skills. These learning objectives should
Image source: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/language-objectives-key-effective-content-area-instruction-english-learners
When developing these objectives it is key to consider the language functions that are related to the topic of the lesson. Consider what the students will be doing, will they be describing? explaining? comparing?. WIDA English Language Proficiency (ELP) standards is a great resource for helping develop these objectives. Here is a screen shot of a table that could be considered when making these language objectives.
The last artifact that I am taking away from this module is the importance of collaborative activities in the development of oral communication skills with our ELL students. Since many student go through a silent phase they may need additional supports when they are not ready to vocalize their thoughts or have not established a comfort level to speak in front of a large group of their peers. There are many different collaborative actives that you can include in your classroom including think-pair-share, round robins, talk moves, adaptive socratic seminars, and group brainstorming. One that I would like to use in my classroom is called 1-3-6 protocol since it has a built in gradual build of group size and collaboration. This protocol requires the students to develop their own ideas before sharing with their peers. After posing a question/discussion point students will develop their own ideas or responses (1 person). Next they share their work with 2 other peers (3 people in group). This promotes them to use their speaking and listening skills within a small group. This smaller group will result in a higher chance of language learner to practice their oral skills. When you are ready to move on to larger groups you can combine 2 groups (6 people in a group) to further the discussion and deepening the ideas of the students. Once this has been completed the student who may have not been comfortable with sharing their ideas or did not know how to formulate their ideas will have had multiple opportunities to build on their academic vocabulary.
Image from video titled "Collaborative Group Work with the 1-3-6 Protocol" (link https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/1-3-6-protocol)