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English Learners

female teacher with two boys constructing blocks

Understanding Language Development and Young Children

Download this introductory presentation on English Learners -  (5 min).

Access pages 103-111 of the California Preschool Learning Foundations -  . Read the introduction to the “English Language Development Domain" (15 min).

As you read, consider the following questions:

  • What are characteristics of language use in each of the four stages of language development
  • What are the three levels of developmental progression? What are the characteristics of children at each level?
  • What developmentally appropriate teaching practices support learners at each level?

(15 min.)

Explore the revised California English Development Standards for Kindergarten and reflect on the following:

  • What do Proficiency Level Descriptors (PLDs) provide and describe?
  • Name and explain the proficiency levels (developmental progression).
  • What are the sections found at each level?
  • What other sections are included in the ELD Standards?

View the content and format of the California Common Core English Language Arts and Literacy Standards for Kindergarten.

(15 min.)

Review the information obtained in activities 2 and 3 to create a visual showing of how the two documents are similar and how they are different (15 min).

Indicate how they are aligned as a continuum of learning for English Learners in TK classrooms. You may choose to sketch your visual by hand, or choose to use a tool such as Easel.y or Glogster.

Investigate the Preschool English Learners Resource Guide, offering early education research, anchored around eight core beliefs and ten correlated principles about English language acquisition (20 min).Related implementation practices are offered which help teachers promote language, literacy learning for young ELs.

  • Read the Core Beliefs on pages 3-4 and the Principles for Promoting Language, Literacy and Learning for Preschool English Learners on page 93.
  • Connect the Principles with the Core Beliefs by using the English Learners: Core Beliefs and Principles Matrix (some ideas may be placed under more than one belief).
  • Consider the following questions.
    • What connecting patterns do you see?
    • How does this research-based information impact your thinking about the teaching and learning in diverse contexts?

Understanding English Learners (25 min).

Locate Supporting the English Language Learner Video - - Lecture

Click on Lecture (you may also want to print the lecturer transcript), and watch the video footage from 3:04 to 16:00. Choose one of the questions below to “teach” to another classmate. You may use notes, illustrations, and/or examples in your post or in-class discussion. Switch roles with your classmate in order for both of you to have an opportunity to “teach”.

  • Explain why a child should learn his/her own primary language alongside acquiring English language and literacy.
  • In what ways does culture influence language and literacy development (for all learners)?

-- OR --

English Language Development and Acquisition

In transitional kindergarten, children who are emergent bilingual speakers – that is, beginning English learning and continuing primary language learning – move through four stages of second language acquisition.

As a teacher, understanding these stages of second language acquisition can help you make effective decisions to support emergent bilingual youth at their stage of learning.

  • Read Chapter 5: “Stages and Strategies in Second-Language Acquisition - ” (pages 45-53).
  • Record descriptions of the stages, using this chart to support your response to the video observation (below) using The Stages of Acquiring a New Language.
  • Locate Supporting the English Language Learner Video- Classroom Excerpts.
  • Click on Classroom Excerpts, and watch the video footage, 17:58-22:08.

Focus your observation on the first boy to the left, Jesús. Decide on the “stage” (of acquiring English) in which the student most identifies. Explain your answer. Identify his strengths in learning English. Use The Stages of Acquiring a New Language chart to record your thoughts.

Strategies to Support English Learners Acquisition of Language and Academic Content

Read Using ELD and SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) in the Classroom. (Brokers of Expertise, State of CA Department of Education) (20 min).

  • Note the purpose of ELD instruction, and the purpose of SDAIE strategies.
  • View the Venn diagram, noting differences and similarities.

Read pages 54-56, “Stages and Strategies in Second-Language Acquisition” in the Preschool English Learner's Resource Guide. Focusing on ELD teaching strategies (adapted from One Child Two Languages, Tabors, 1997).

  • Which new ELD strategies did you observe?
  • What was the role of the teacher?

Read the Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English article (20min).

  • What are the five major features of the SDAIE approach?
  • Name the eight categories of strategies.

Identify four strategies that you would use to support language learning in your classroom.

Read Many Languages, One Teacher: Supporting Early Language and Literacy Development for Preschool Dual Language Learners. (National Association for the Education of Young Children) (20 min).

  • Take note of the strategies to support English language development.
  • Take note of the strategies to support comprehensible input (SDAIE).
  • Where do you see the two types of instruction/strategies coming together to provide significant learning opportunities?

Locate Supporting the English Language Learner Video – Classroom Excerpts (20 min)

Click on Classroom Excerpts, and watch one of the classroom excerpts below. As you view the classroom excerpt, reflect on the questions below.

  • View Kindergarten Class #1 (16:57-22:08).
    • What strategies did Ms. Owen use to make the content comprehensible?
    • How did she scaffold student learning and support language and literacy development?
    • Explain how the use of a small group contributed to student learning?
    • What other ELD or SDAIE strategies did you observe?

-- OR --

  • View Kindergarten Class #2 (22:09-28:05).
    • What did the teacher do to honor the culture(s) of students in the class?
    • How did the teacher make content accessible by engaging students in a hands-on experience?
    • Explain the value of incorporating students’ experiences (family interactions, cultural opportunities, etc.) to enhance learning.
    • What other ELD or SDAIE strategies did you observe?

Applying What You Know

Locate the handout Scenarios in Action: What Would You Do? Use information (readings, videos, and other resources) explored in this module to respond to the TK scenarios provided. Focus on strategies that will enhance English language development and make content accessible to all learners (20 min).

Approximate Total Time: 3-4 hours