English learners are capable of performing grade-level critical thinking; however, they are in need of support to perform and express that level of thinking in reading, speaking, and writing in English. Research and our 50 years of combined English Language instruction tells us that content knowledge and English language proficiency are gained when students learn and master various effective literacy skills and teachers utilize language supports for speaking and writing.
LiteracyTA has outlined a process for teaching students how to read, speak, and write about texts in an effort to accelerate their English proficiency and prepare them for state and local exams. The process below focuses on developing students' academic literacy skills so that they can eventually access content and information on their own while thinking critically about their reading and writing. The process is intentional and produces results when followed closely. Here are the steps with links back to our Skill Library.
- Understand your reading/performance task
- Discuss your reading/performance task with a peer or in small groups
- Preview your text
- Discuss what you see in your text
- Read for comprehension
- Discuss what you understand
- Read for deeper meaning
- Discuss your markings
- Plan and organize your writing
- Discuss your plan
- Discuss your draft
- Edit and Publish
- One Minute Speech (Summary of Ideas)
Teachers who address the needs of English learners in their classrooms establish foundations for language support during the planning phase of instruction. This is most effective when teachers use the “Skill-Based Instruction” model where they work in vertical teams and use backward planning. During the planning phase, teachers establish the learning goals, the language goals, and the language supports. Because students are learning the content and the language simultaneously, teachers know that it is not possible to wait for the students to develop proficiency in English before learning the content. For this reason, the teachers do not change the grade-level expectations for their courses; instead, the teachers change the environment and the method in which they present the instruction.
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