But “… only 26% of mainstream teachers with ELs in their classrooms have had professional development related to instructional practices for these learners.” Training and Sustaining Effective Teachers of Sheltered Instructions Author(s): Deborah Short Date of publication: 2013
The number of English Language Learner’s (ELL) in US schools is increasing, which presents challenges in the classroom. This article suggests meeting the challenges on two fronts. First, it encourages teachers to recognize that it is not just the students that face language and cultural barriers. If teachers are really interested in helping ELLs learn, they need to rethink what they do in the class to meet the English and content needs of these students. First, the authors posit, students will learn better if classroom culture is adapted so that they feel that their native language is welcome in there. This means that while evaluation is still base on English-language production, other languages can be used in learning and constructing knowledge. Second, the primary learning task in the Social Studies classroom is teaching Social Studies first, then English. Therefore, thought needs to be given emphasize the acquisition of Social Studies content and minimize the barrier English poses. The two main strategies to accomplish this are to teach learning startegies and to simplify the language the content is presented in, but not the content itself.
The challenge with English language learners in any content class is to teach them material at their grade level while helping them improve their academic English in such a way that the English language does not become a barrier to learning (Vacca, 2010, p. 74). First, make the English text more comprehensible. This is one area where content-area reading strategies can be used to engage the students in pre-reading activities, create guiding questions as they read modified texts, and teach them to use text features, especially visuals. #2 The English input students receive, however, should not be too simple. Cruz and Thorton maintain that EL students will learn English and Social Studies best when the comprehensible English input they receive “is just beyond their current level of competence” and they are challenged to use the English that they know (Cruz, 2009, p. 271). Without a healthy and respectful learning community, this would be difficult for English learners to do. With it place, though, even another of Cruz and Thorton’s strategies can be applied. This is to promote interaction between English learners and English speaking students through small groups, discussion, peer-teaching, and group projects. Together, these “aspects point toward a sheltered instruction approach to teaching the social studies” (Cruz, 2009, p. 272).
sheltered instruction: the method of integrating language development with techniques to make content curricular topics more comprehensible to ELs…. The result of effective sheltered instruction is that ELs are able to access the core curriculum and concurrently develop their academic English proficiency (p.119).” “The SIOP [Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol] Model offers a system that incorporates best practices for teaching academic English and provides teachers with a coherent method for improving the achievement of their students.
Most schools and teachers across the United States are neither trained nor prepare to adequately serve the surge of English learners (ELs) entering the educational system. In response, teacher trainers, districts, principals, and other leaders need to provide training for current and future teachers in effective methods and strategies that will help ELs learn content and progress in academic English. This response cannot be in the form of a one-time seminar. It has to be long-term, ongoing, rigorous, and research-based. This type of training program will only happen if the concerned teachers take a leadership role and push for it. With tight budgets, heavy demands, and an uninfluential target group, change favoring them will not happen by itself. As teacher push for these changes, they should not be too pushy. They need to develop and maintain good working relationships with other teachers and school leadership in order to gain their understanding and support. And a school-wide approach is necessary, because the most effective the schools work together towards clear and common goals and have coherent curriculums.
Supporting social studies literacy for english learners
P R O M O T I N G S H E LT E R E D I N S T R U C T I O N
SUPPORTING SOCIAL STUDIES
LITERACY FOR ENGLISH
The fastest growing part
consist of English learners
HOW TO MEET THE CHALLENGE
• Cultural Barriers go both ways
• Accept the use of home language and culture
• Use English, but remove it as a barrier to
LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES
• Make input more comprehensible
• Have high expectations
• Encourage interaction between EL and non-
• only 26% of content teachers of ELs have
had relevant professional development
• Teachers in content areas who have English
learners in their classes need to be trained in
sheltered instruction methods.
• The training teachers receive needs to be
rigorous, research-based, and long-term.
Cruz, B. a. (2009). Social Studies for English Language Learners:
Teaching Social Studies that Matters. Social Education, 271-274.
DelliCarpini, M. (2008). Working with English Language Learners: Looking
Back, Moving Forward. English Journal, 98-101.
Krogstand, J. a. (2014, August 18). Dept. of Ed. projects public schools
will be ‘majority-minority’ this fall. Retrieved from Fact-Tank: News in
the Numbers : http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/18/u-s-
Nilufer, G. (2013). Assessing ELL Students in the Mainstream Classroom:
A New Dilemma for Teachers. English Journal, 126-129.
Short, D. (2013). Training and Sustaining Effective Teachers of
Sheltered Instructions. Theory into Practice, 118-127.
Szpara, M. a. (2007). Supporting English-Language Learners in Social
Studies Class: Results from a Study of High School Teachers. The
Social Studies, 189-195.
Vacca, R. V. (2010). Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning
Across the Curriculum (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Supporting Social Studies Literacy for English Learners