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Bilingual Education Challenges and Possibilities


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November 2014 - Dr. Jim Cummins presentation to La Scuola parents about bilingualism.

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Bilingual Education Challenges and Possibilities

  1. 1. Bilingual Education: Challenges and Possibilities Jim Cummins The University of Toronto La Scuola, November 14, 2014
  2. 2. Overview n  What do we know about bilingual/multilingual language and academic development? n  In teaching English, what exactly are we trying to teach? n  Literacy engagement is key to developing advanced levels of Italian and English n  It is important to bring the two languages (and other languages students may speak) into productive contact and teach for transfer across languages. n  Students will take ownership of their 2 (or more) languages when they are enabled to do powerful (identity-affirming) things with the language. “Identity texts” is a useful concept to explore powerful uses of language.
  3. 3. 1. What do we know about bilingual/ multilingual language and academic development?
  4. 4. What Does Research Say about Bilingual/Immersion Education? n  Bilingual programs for minority and majority language students have been successfully implemented in countries around the world. These programs generally produce better outcomes than teaching the language as a subject. n  Spending instructional time through two languages entails no long-term adverse effects on students’ academic development in the majority language. n  The development of literacy in two languages entails linguistic and perhaps cognitive advantages for bilingual students. There is also an advantage in learning additional languages. n  Significant positive relationships exist between the development of academic skills in L1 and L2. n  The most successful bilingual programs are those that aim to develop full bilingualism and biliteracy.
  5. 5. 1a. Cognitive and Linguistic Advantages
  6. 6. 1b. Effects of Bilingual Education
  7. 7. Research Evidence on Bilingual Education (1) “In summary, there is no indication that bilingual instruction impedes academic achievement in either the native language or English, whether for language-minority students, students receiving heritage language instruction, or those enrolled in French immersion programs. Where differences were observed, on average they favored the students in a bilingual program. The meta-analytic results clearly suggest a positive effect for bilingual instruction that is moderate in size.” (Francis, Lesaux, and August 2006, p. 397)
  8. 8. Research Evidence on Bilingual Education (2) F. Genesee, K. Lindholm-Leary, W. Saunders, & D. Christian (Eds). Educating English Language Learners. (pp. 176-222). New York: Cambridge University Press. “[T]here is strong convergent evidence that the educational success of ELLs [English language learners] is positively related to sustained instruction through the student’s first language. ... most long-term studies report that the longer the students stayed in the program, the more positive were the outcomes”. (Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2006, p. 201)
  9. 9. The Dual-Iceberg Representation of Bilingual Proficiency
  10. 10. n  Transfer of concepts (e.g., understanding the concept of photosynthesis); n  Transfer of cognitive and linguistic strategies (e.g. strategies of visualizing, use of graphic organizers, mnemonic devices, vocabulary acquisition strategies, etc.); n  Transfer of specific linguistic elements (knowledge of the meaning of photo in photosynthesis); n  Transfer of phonological awareness. Types of Cross-Lingual Transfer
  11. 11. Pedagogical Implications of Interdependence n  The “two solitudes” model of L2 instruction endorses rigid adherance to monolingual instructional strategies and tries to keep the languages separate and isolated from each other; n  A bilingual instructional approach would find opportunities to bring the languages into contact and teach for transfer across languages; --where cognates exist, draw students’ attention to them; --encourage students to create and web-publish bilingual books and projects; --engage in partner-class projects where both languages might be used for planning, communication, and joint publishing of project work (projects must be substantive, engaging, and challenging—not just pen-pals).
  12. 12. 2. What Is “English”?
  13. 13. EL Catch-up Trajectories Why? (a) native speakers continue to develop English academic language proficiency, (b) academic language is complex and less accessible than conversational language.
  14. 14. The Nature of English n  Conversational fluency (BICS) n  Discrete language skills rule-governed aspects of the language (phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, grammar, etc.) n  Academic language proficiency (CALP) Includes knowledge of the less frequent vocabulary of English as well as the ability to interpret and produce increasingly complex written language;
  15. 15. What Is English Language Proficiency? Conversational Fluency n  The ability to carry on a conversation in familiar face-to- face situations; n  Developed by the vast majority of native speakers by the time they enter school at age 5; n  Involves use of high frequency words and simple grammatical constructions; n  EAL students typically require 1-2 years to attain peer- appropriate levels.
  16. 16. The Trouble with Acronyms… "Bilingual Education is a controversial topic, largely due to politics. BICS, an organization that does not believe in bilingual education, feels that children can pick up language very easily but don't necessarily have to attend bilingual education classes.“ (From a student's final examination in a Second Language Acquisition course. Courtesy of Dr. Tom Scovel)
  17. 17. What Is English Language Proficiency? Discrete Language Skills n  Refers to the rule-governed aspects of language (phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.); n  Can be developed in two independent ways: (a) by explicit instruction, and (b) through extensive access to print and engagement with literacy; n  EAL students can learn these specific language skills concurrently with their development of basic vocabulary and conversational fluency. However, there is little direct transference to other aspects of language proficiency (e.g. vocabulary).
  18. 18. What Is English Language Proficiency? Academic Language Proficiency n  Includes knowledge of the less frequent vocabulary of English as well as the ability to interpret and produce increasingly complex written language; n  Academic language makes frequent use of nominalisation (e.g., acceleration) and passive voice; n  EL students typically require at least 5 years to attain grade expectations in language and literacy skills; n  Because academic language is found primarily in books, extensive reading is crucial in enabling students to catch up; n  Frequent writing, across genres, is also crucial in developing academic writing skills.
  19. 19. The Cognate Connection speed velocidad velocity sick enfermo infirm meet encontrar encounter
  20. 20. Social Studies Vocabulary (grade 5) amend annexation bombarded boundary colonist cavalry compromise commerce constitution consultation convention convince declaration dissolved dynasty independence induced inference perpetual petition preamble ratify rebellion representatives resolution revolt revolution sentiments siege skirmish statement surveyor sustain traditions treaty tyrants
  21. 21. Sample of Most Frequent 150 Academic Words accelerate achieve adjacent contribute convert create fluctuate focus formulate notion obtain obvious sequence series shift affect alternative analyze criterion crucial data function generate guarantee occur passive period signify similar simultaneous approach approximate arbitrary define definite demonstrate
  22. 22. From Edgar Allan Poe: The Pit and the Pendulum My outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction. It was a wall, seemingly of stone masonry – very smooth, slimy, and cold. I followed it up; stepping with all the careful distrust with which certain antique narratives had inspired me.
  23. 23. 3. Literacy Engagement
  24. 24. Literacy Engagement What Is It? n  Amount and range of reading and writing; n  Use of effective strategies for deep understanding of text; n  Positive affect and identity investment in reading and writing; Drawing on both the 1998 NAEP data from the United States and the results of the PISA study of reading achievement among 15-year olds in international contexts, Guthrie (2004, p. 5) notes that students “…whose family background was characterized by low income and low education, but who were highly engaged readers, substantially outscored students who came from backgrounds with higher education and higher income, but who themselves were less engaged readers. Based on a massive sample, this finding suggests the stunning conclusion that engaged reading can overcome traditional barriers to reading achievement, including gender, parental education, and income.”
  25. 25. Literacy engagement plays a key role in promoting reading comprehension OECD’s PISA Study n  Data on the reading attainment of 15-year olds in 27 countries showed that “the level of a student’s reading engagement is a better predictor of literacy performance than his or her socioeconomic background, indicating that cultivating a student’s interest in reading can help overcome home disadvantages” (OECD, 2004, p. 8). n  The authors point out that “engagement in reading can be a consequence, as well as a cause, of higher reading skill, but the evidence suggests that these two factors are mutually reinforcing” (p. 8).
  26. 26. Creating an Identity-Affirming School Environment (d) Linking Literacy Engagement with Identity Affirmation
  27. 27. Creating an Identity-Affirming School Environment (d) Linking Literacy Engagement with Identity Affirmation
  28. 28. Creating an Identity-Affirming School Environment (d) Linking Literacy Engagement with Identity Affirmation Reading makes me powerful because… When I grow up I can find a better job than people who can’t read. Somebody can also trick you to do something that will get you in trouble. Reading gives you new words to learn. It gives my brain new ideas. It helps your vocabulary so when you need to write something you can use longer and harder words. In school you can get a better mark using more words. By Tasneem
  29. 29. Collaborative Pedagogical Inquiry Literacy Engagement n  To what extent are students immersed in a literacy-rich environment throughout primary school? q  Are they listening to and dramatizing stories from the earliest days of schooling? q  Do they have access to a well-stocked classroom library and the opportunity to borrow books to take home to read with their parents? q  Does the school library have books in the multiple languages of the school and/or dual language books? q  Does the school library encourage parents to come in and check out books with their children (e.g., by staying open after school hours to accommodate parents’ schedules)? q  Are students discussing books they are reading on a regular basis within the classroom? q  Is technology being used in creative ways? For example, are students uploading book reviews to appropriate web sites? Are they videotaping scenes or adaptations from books they have read? q  Has the school forged connections with the local public library to explore ways of promoting literacy engagement? Etc. etc.
  30. 30. 4. Teaching for Transfer Bringing the two Languages into Productive Contact
  31. 31. Teach for Transfer or Maintain Linguistic Solitudes? The two solitudes assumption was expressed clearly by Wallace Lambert (1984) in discussing the medium of instruction in French immersion programs: “No bilingual skills are required of the teacher, who plays the role of a monolingual in the target language ... and who never switches languages, reviews materials in the other language, or otherwise uses the child’s native language in teacher-pupil interactions. In immersion programs, therefore, bilingualism is developed through two separate monolingual instructional routes.” (1984, p. 13)
  32. 32. EL Students’ L1 as a Resource Within the Classroom Invite students to: n  Complete dual-language assignments such as a bilingual advertisement (e.g. to attract visitors to a country or region) or a dual language story or book; n  Work with same-language partners to discuss a problem and clarify information in the L1 before reporting back in English (e.g. think, pair, share in L1) n  Create multilingual displays or signs; n  Write first drafts, notes, journal entries, and outlines in L1; n  Provide bilingual support for newcomers (e.g. class partners or cross- grade tutors who speak the language of the newcomer can highlight or translate key concepts). (Ontario Ministry of Education (2006) Many Roots, Many Voices. http://
  33. 33. Identity Texts: Showcasing bilingual accomplishments n  Identity texts refer to artifacts that students produce. Students take ownership of these artifacts as a result of having invested their identities in them. n  Once produced, these texts (written, spoken, visual, musical, or combinations in multimodal form) hold a mirror up to the student in which his or her identity is reflected back in a positive light. n  Students invest their identities in these texts which then become ambassadors of students’ identities. When students share identity texts with multiple audiences (peers, teachers, parents, grandparents, sister classes, the media, etc.) they are likely to receive positive feedback and affirmation of self in interaction with these audiences.
  34. 34. Tomer’s Perspective n  I think using your first language is so helpful because when you don’t understand something after you’ve just come here it is like beginning as a baby. You don’t know English and you need to learn it all from the beginning; but if you already have it in another language then it is easier, you can translate it, and you can do it in your language too, then it is easier to understand the second language. n  The first time I couldn’t understand what she [Lisa] was saying except the word Hebrew, but I think it’s very smart that she said for us to do it in our language because we can’t just sit on our hands doing nothing.
  35. 35. Kanta’s Perspective n  And how it helped me was when I came here in grade 4 the teachers didn’t know what I was capable of. n  I was given a pack of crayons and a coloring book and told to get on coloring with it. And after I felt so bad about that--I’m capable of doing much more than just that. I have my own inner skills to show the world than just coloring and I felt that those skills of mine are important also. So when we started writing the book [The New Country], I could actually show the world that I am something instead of just coloring. n  And that's how it helped me and it made me so proud of myself that I am actually capable of doing something, and here today [at the Ontario TESL conference] I am actually doing something. I’m not just a coloring person—I can show you that I am something.
  36. 36. Examples of Literacy/Language Engagement: Sister Class Projects n  Pre-cursors: The work of Célestin Freinet in France and Mario Lodi in Italy; Both Freinet and Lodi used the printing press to create texts and newsletters for sharing with sister classes (and community members) while Lodi also used audiotapes (“spoken letters”) that resulted in students becoming aware of and analysing regional varieties of Italian; n  The DiaLogos Project: Grades 5/6 students in Rhodes/Kassos (Greece) and Toronto (Canada) (Kourtis-Kazoullis, 2001).
  37. 37. DiaLogos: Focus on Meaning n  Greek students carried out extensive research in both English (e.g. on the web) and Greek (e.g. local museums) on topics such as ancient Greece; n  As a result of this research, students wrote to the editors of Dr. Dig magazine (a web-based archaeological magazine intended for students) to complain about their use of the term “Elgin Marbles” (marble statues taken from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s whose ownership is currently under dispute between Greece and the UK);
  38. 38. DiaLogos: Focus on Language (from Vasilia Kourtis Kazoullis) [Student from Canada] Katerina – I didn’t have much of a Christmas this year because I was moviong and we didn’t put up a tree and stuff like that but it was fun moving and stuff. On Christmas eve we went to my aunt’s house and had a big feast and me and cousin Maria were chilling out. On New Years eve we went to my moms friends house and clebrated it there and we brought in 1999 we [with] a really big bang!! BYE FOR NOW KATERINA!!!!!!!!! *********** Expressions in the letters from Canadian students such as stuff like that, and stuff, chilling out, with a really big bang, we had a blast and whaz up, fueled the students’ curiosity and resulted in critical analysis of language forms.
  39. 39. DiaLogos: Focus on Use n  Students collaboratively completed a short story begun by Evgenios Trivizas (a well-known Greek children’s writer) called The Dance of the Ostriches; n  80 different stories were written. 59 stories were written by the students in Greece (35 stories in Greek and 24 in English) and 21 stories were written by students in Canada (9 in Greek and 12 in English). Some texts included both languages, reflecting students’ attempt to use the target language.
  40. 40. 5. Identity Affirmation is Central to Effective Pedagogy
  41. 41. Collaborative Pedagogical Inquiry A. What Image of the Child Are We Sketching in Our Instruction? q  Capable of becoming bilingual and biliterate? q  Capable of higher-order thinking and intellectual accomplishments? q  Capable of creative and imaginative thinking? q  Capable of creating literature and art? q  Capable of generating new knowledge? q  Capable of thinking about and finding solutions to social issues?
  42. 42. Collaborative Pedagogical Inquiry Identity Affirmation n  To what extent is the school enabling students to connect academic work to their own developing identities with the result that students develop a sense of pride in their linguistic talents and intellectual and literary accomplishments? q  To what extent do students and parents see signs and student work in multiple languages displayed at the school entrance and other public spaces (e.g., corridors) throughout the school? q  To what extent are newcomer students encouraged to use their L1s for completion of academic work and creative writing? q  To what extent are students’ dual language books or projects displayed publicly (e.g., on a school web site) and showcased in a positive manner (e.g., on parents’ nights etc.)? q  To what extent are students enabled to engage in sister class projects with multilingual speakers from other countries or regions using multiple languages to carry out collaborative projects? q  To what extent are students encouraged to compare their L1 with the school language in order to develop greater language awareness?
  43. 43. Hira’s Story
  44. 44. 6. Writing (and “cultural production” generally) is a powerful tool for identity affirmation
  45. 45. Writing as Problem-Solving Letter to Ann Landers 1976 (from Stephen Krashen (2004) The Power of Reading (2nd edition) Dear Ann: I’m a 26-year-old woman and feel like a fool asking you this question, but—should I marry the guy or not? Jerry is 30, but sometimes he acts like 14… Jerry is a salesman and makes good money but has lost his wallet three times since I’ve known him and I’ve had to help him meet the payments on his car. The thing that bothers me most, I think, is that I have the feeling he doesn’t trust me. After every date, he telephones. He says it’s to “say an extra goodnight,” but I’m sure he is checking to see if I had a late date with someone else. One night I was in the shower and didn’t hear the phone. He came over and sat on the porch all night. I found him asleep on the swing when I went to get the paper the next morning at 6.30 a.m. I had a hard time convincing him I had been in the house the whole time.
  46. 46. Writing as Problem-Solving Letter to Ann Landers 1976 (from Stephen Krashen (2004) The Power of Reading (2nd edition) Now on the plus side: Jerry is very good-looking and appeals to me physically. Well – that does it. I have been sitting here with this pen in my hand for 15 minutes trying to think of something else good to say about him and nothing comes to mind. Don’t bother to answer this. You have helped more than you will ever know.
  47. 47. 67 Dual language books
  48. 48. Young second language authors proudly showing off their dual language identity texts From: Eithne Gallagher: Many Languages, One Message: Equal Rights to the Curriculum. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2008. Interlingual Teaching and Learning (Gallagher 2008)
  49. 49. Reyes, M. L. (2001). Unleashing possibilities: Biliteracy in the primary grades. In M. L. Reyes & J. Halcón (Eds.), The best for our children: Critical perspectives on literacy for Latino students (pp. 96–121). New York: Teachers College Press. n  Longitudinal case study (K-Grade 3) of the “spontaneous biliteracy” of 4 low-income Mexican/Latino children in a bilingual program, two of whom were taught to read initially only in Spanish and two only in English, according to their language dominance on entry to the program; n  The students received structured phonics instruction (in English or Spanish) in kindergarten but only minimal phonics instruction in first and second grades. n  All four students spontaneously transferred their literacy skills from the initial language to their second language without formal instruction. n  Their “natural, spontaneous, and uncomplicated approach to bilingualism and biliteracy” (p. 117) was supported by their interest in writing in both languages and also by their social play, where they challenged each other to read in the language in which they had received no formal reading instruction.
  50. 50. Reyes, M. L. (2001). Unleashing possibilities: Biliteracy in the primary grades. In M. L. Reyes & J. Halcón (Eds.), The best for our children: Critical perspectives on literacy for Latino students (pp. 96–121). New York: Teachers College Press. “There is no doubt that these students felt their languages and their culture affirmed. . . . Although each of the girls received [reading] instruction in only one language, all their learning from kindergarten to second grade took place in classrooms where the teachers supported and nurtured their cultural and linguistic resources. Each day they heard their teachers and peers use Spanish and English. Their teachers also made great efforts to treat English and Spanish as equally as possible, valuing both languages for personal, social, and academic purposes” (p. 116).
  51. 51. School-based Language and Instructional Planning: Articulating Choices and Taking Collective Action