English Language Learners as readers and writer


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This presentation was prepared for the Learning Media National Seminar for facilitators (April 2010). It offers guidance in considering what features of a specific text would make texts and tasks easy or difficult for English Language Learners.

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  • I’ve planned this workshop on the assumption that everyone is coming in with the same level of knowledge but I know that won’t be the case so please ask questions and if there are things that you want to talk about further let me know and I can try to come back to them later in the week or at another time.
  • May not get a lot of tie for the third outcome but we will return to it on Thursday if we run out of tie today.
  • A term that we use a lot but I think it’s quite helpful to establish a shared understanding of it a a group/ 2 minutes to talk to your group and see if you can write a one sentence definition. Share with whole group
  • Show Gibbons book
  • A good diagram to explore with teachers.
  • Use chart to fill in, in groups Refer to p74, 75 of Gibbons
  • Becasuse cohesion is not a very visible languag system and is one which is intuitively understood by native speakerss, it is easy to overlook the difficulties it may cause for ELLs.
  • Conjunctions in particular are often overlooked as a potential area of difficulty, and we need to check that these words are understood when they occur in text. Because they have such a large impact on making meaning.
  • If you look at this text you can see that many of the content words fall into two groups - movement and pysical aspects of the scene. These related words help to hold the text together. The problem for ELLs is understanding them and seeing the relationship between them also depends very much on a reader’s world of knowledge.
  • This list of aspects of text comes from ELLP. Use one of the texts and consider it in relation to these aspects (in groups). Just do one page if you want to or the whole text. Then go the matrix in ELLP ( either Year 1-4 booklet for Night is a Blanket) or the Year 5-8 booklet for the Journal stories What level would you put this text at? Share with group
  • Give out handout We may need to be analysing their writing from a slightly different perspective.
  • Many of these things are the same as native speakers of English - essentially all learners are startingn at the sma point but the pathway they follow and the rate of progress are going to be different. Spelling system of English may be diffciult for them because of pronunciation differences between languages. Remember that punctuation relfects the intonations patterens and pauses of written lagnague. Therefore anunderstanding of puctuation partyl depends on the writer beig able to control the speech patterens of Englslih. Usually a much higher proportion of content words in written word. Ells need a bridge into written langague and talking about a topic may not be enough. They need to see the rpcesses and the products. Style and tone of a business letter in Spanish is very different than one in English.Written language organization reflects the way a particular language is organised to fulfil a specific purpose.
  • When planning for writing it might be useful to think about some of these criteria. In groups think about the particular vocabulary and sentence structures/ grammar that ELLs would need to write an explanation or a report about water. Choose one text type. How would you do that? Think, Pair, Share Resources you might use, look at etc?
  • Look in Sellips, ELIP etc, Write Ways, Context, Text and Grammar Show these texts
  • English Language Learners as readers and writer

    1. 1. Supporting English Language Learners to become competent readers and writers Jane van der Zeyden
    2. 2. Expected outcomes for this session <ul><li>Consider what features of texts make them easy or difficult for ELLs </li></ul><ul><li>Explore the specific needs of ELLs in writing </li></ul><ul><li>Identify some ways to scaffold reading and writing tasks for English Language Learners. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Scaffolding <ul><li>What do you understand by the term? </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>“ In the classroom, scaffolding portrays the temporary, but essential, nature of the mentor’s assistance in supporting learners to carry out tasks successfully” </li></ul><ul><li>Maybin, Mercer and Stierer, (1992, p.186). </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ Scaffolding is not simply another word for help. It is a special kind of help that assists learners to move towards new skills, concepts or levels of understanding. Scaffolding is thus the temporary assistance by which the teacher helps a learner know how to do something, so that the learner will later be able to complete a similar task alone” </li></ul><ul><li>(Gibbons, 2002: 10). </li></ul>
    6. 6. Or simply put… <ul><li>I do, you watch I do, you help You do, I help You do, I watch </li></ul>
    7. 8. <ul><li>Where might the reading process break down for English Language Learners? </li></ul>
    8. 9. <ul><li>What do we know about fluent readers and their ability to understand cohesion? </li></ul><ul><li>Able to carry meaning across chunks of text </li></ul><ul><li>Native speakers have an intuitive understanding of how cohesion works </li></ul><ul><li>ELLs may not have developed this understanding fully. </li></ul><ul><li>Halliday and Hansan(1976) have identified five ways in which English creates cohesive ties. </li></ul><ul><li>They are: </li></ul>
    9. 10. Making links in text - an area of difficulty for ELLs <ul><li>ELLs may not not recognise the relationship between the reference word and the referent as they are reading. </li></ul><ul><li>e.g A tall black figure was outside Sophie’s house. The figure turned and faced her window, and then he walked on. He came to Mr. Goochey’s house and there he stopped. </li></ul>
    10. 11. <ul><li>Many ELLs do not control a sufficient range of conjunctions and connectives and this means they are less likely to recognise the main points of a text. </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. He walked all day although he was exhausted. Finally he stopped outside a small hotel in a village. If he went in, some one might recognise him, but unless he stopped to rest he would get no further. </li></ul>
    11. 12. <ul><li>ELLs may not have enough semantic variety within their vocabulary to understand the relationship of words. </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. The giant had definitely slowed down and was now running more normally although normal was a silly word to describe a galloping giant. He leapt over a dozen rivers. He went rattling through a great forest then down into a valley and up over a range of hills and soon he was galloping over a desolate wasteland that was not quite of this earth. </li></ul>
    12. 13. <ul><li>ELLs may not recognise that two different words can refer to the same thing Substitution) </li></ul><ul><li>e.g He was given a new bike for his birthday. His old one was too small for him. </li></ul><ul><li>ELLs may not recognise that anything has been omitted and may not be able to supply what is not there (Ellipsis) </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. He sat down, ¬ stood up and then ¬sat down again. </li></ul>
    13. 14. Things to consider when choosing texts for ELLs <ul><li>Topic </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>Sentence length and construction </li></ul><ul><li>Cohesion </li></ul><ul><li>Layout </li></ul><ul><li>Length </li></ul><ul><li>Support from illustrations </li></ul><ul><li>Use of colloquial language/idioms </li></ul><ul><li>Font </li></ul><ul><li>Refer ELLP p.27 Introductory booklet, p.7 Meeting the Needs of ELLs module </li></ul>
    14. 15. <ul><li>“ While increased language competence enhances reading ability, reading certainly increases language competence.” </li></ul><ul><li>Pauline Gibbons: Learning to Learn in a Second Language. (1991) </li></ul>
    15. 16. Writing <ul><li>What are the key messages from the English Language Learning Progressions telling us about teaching ELLs how to write? </li></ul>
    16. 17. What do ELLs need to learn about writing? <ul><li>The symbols of the English writing system and the relationships between sound and symbols. </li></ul><ul><li>How writing differs from speech. </li></ul><ul><li>The different text types of English </li></ul>
    17. 18. <ul><li>When planning think about… </li></ul><ul><li>Particular sentence structures relevant to the text type </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary that will have to be taught specifically </li></ul><ul><li>The grammar associated with the text type </li></ul>
    18. 19. Developing effective writers <ul><li>Demonstrate writing using ‘think alouds’ and joint construction </li></ul><ul><li>Read aloud from a variety of texts </li></ul><ul><li>Provide access to a range of good quality models of writing </li></ul><ul><li>Conferences - be prepared to spend more time editing with ELLs </li></ul><ul><li>Provide easy access to some of the tools for writing </li></ul><ul><li>Set writing tasks for pairs and groups as well as individuals. </li></ul><ul><li>Use focused tasks e.g cloze tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage students to plan and/or write in their first language if appropriate </li></ul><ul><li>Scaffold their writing with writing frames. </li></ul>