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Making Connections: Biliteracy Instruction for Spanish-Speaking English Language Learners


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This article describes a pilot that provided Spanish literacy instruction one day per week for sixteen weeks to a group of fourth grade Spanish-speaking English language learners enrolled in an English-only instructional environment. The curriculum was not pre-set. Rather, instructional decisions were made based on knowing the students, their backgrounds, and affect toward literacy in English and in Spanish. However, all instruction was guided by 3 main tenets: a) Culturally responsive instruction; b) rich vocabulary instruction; and c) cross-linguistic awareness. Descriptions of the nature of instruction are provided.

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Making Connections: Biliteracy Instruction for Spanish-Speaking English Language Learners

  1. 1. Patrick Proctor & Claudia Vargas Boston College Amy Desmond Waltham, MA Public Schools
  2. 2. <ul><li>‘ Every inhabitaunt within saide towne indevor theym selfe to speke Englyshe, and to use theym selfe after the Englyshe facion; and specyally that you, and every of you, do put forth your child to scole, to lerne to speke Englyshe’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note to the people of Galway from Henry VIII discouraging the use of Gaelic, 1536 (Corcoran, 1916) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>The English language is the common public language of the </li></ul><ul><li>United States of America and of the Commonwealth of </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts. It is spoken by the vast majority of </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts residents, and is also the leading world language </li></ul><ul><li>for science, technology, and international business, thereby </li></ul><ul><li>being the language of economic opportunity…. Therefore it is </li></ul><ul><li>resolved that: all children in Massachusetts public schools shall </li></ul><ul><li>be taught English as rapidly and effectively as possible. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note to the people of California, Arizona, and Massachusetts from Ron Unz discouraging the use of any language other than English (MGL Ch 71A, 2002) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Question 2 in Massachusetts </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughtful research on bilingualism and second language acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>Language policy in the Netherlands </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Provide supplementary Spanish literacy instruction to native Spanish speaking English language learners enrolled in a structured English immersion program. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a culturally-relevant curriculum designed to specifically meet the needs of the participating students. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Metalinguistic and metacognitive focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instruction that explicitly compares and contrasts Spanish and English in their spoken and written forms, e.g. cognates (Nagy, García, Durgunoğlu, & Hancin-Bhatt, 1994; Proctor & Mo, 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Breadth and depth of vocabulary instruction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Semantic depth (Proctor, Uccelli, Dalton, & Snow, 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Morphology (Kieffer & Lesaux, 2006) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Culturally relevant pedagogy (Bartolomé, 1994; Brisk & Harrington, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Note. Curriculum was not pre-set. Based on Tenet 3, themes and content were determined as we learned more about the students </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Ninety minutes per week, once a week, for 16 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Eight 4 th grade Spanish-speaking English language learners enrolled in a structured English immersion classroom – Pilot students </li></ul><ul><li>Three Haitian and 1 Brazilian ELLs – Non-pilot students </li></ul><ul><li>School demographics: 70% Anglo, 16% Latino, 7% African American, 6% Asian </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Spanish-Language Instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary instruction (20 mins) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vocabulary maps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phonics/phonemic awareness (15 mins) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creapalabras </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discussion-based read alouds (30 mins) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Papelucho </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Group project work (25 mins) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogic interactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sensemayá la culebra </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Guided Reading Instruction: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small group instruction. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Culturally relevant book selection for reading groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprehension strategy instruction: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>predict </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>summarize </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>clarify </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>question </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Vocabulary Instruction: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading Vocabulary Notebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debugging the text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text Features </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comprehension Strategy Instruction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading Strategy Cards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Margaret Bouchard: Sequencing, character analysis, summary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subtexting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Relevant activities : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Literacy Puzzles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Word/Sentence Building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just Right Books </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><ul><li>Reading Response Journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Modifications related to English Proficiency Level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beginner students have native language reading and writing options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Buddy Reading: Allow students to buddy read and think, pair, share </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent reading (“Just let kids read!”, Krashen). </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Brisk and Harrington (2007) Interview Protocol </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre administration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey – Revised (WMLS-R; Woodcock, Muñoz-Sandoval, Ruef, & Alvarado, 2005). Letter-Word Identification, Picture Vocabulary, and Passage Comprehension subtests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indicators of decoding, expressive vocabulary, and reading comprehension, respectively, in Spanish and English. Results are presented in standard scores, in which the norming sample mean is 100 with a standard deviation of 15. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. * All names are pseudonyms. Data gathered using interview protocol from Brisk & Harrington (2007)
  14. 20. <ul><li>Freedom of speech </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Language of instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of preferred language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased opportunities for expression and understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initiation of comments and relating to personal life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of Spanish to develop English skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linguistic merging </li></ul></ul>
  15. 21. <ul><ul><li>Support parent involvement in the school by providing child care and flexible scheduling for parent activities. (Zeljo & Doctoroff, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stresses of single-parenthood interacts with the immigrant experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness of a certain level of at risk for literacy development. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide support before the student follow behind his/her peers. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 22. <ul><li>Change in student’s affect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initially reserved behavior Increased participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>100% participation in final project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students volunteered to present project at whole school assembly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typical in most classrooms </li></ul></ul>
  17. 23. <ul><ul><li>Preservation of heritage language – Nicolas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenge and benefits of working in groups – Karen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Syntactic and grammatical differences across languages- Nicolas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning words in Spanish helps learning words in English - Antonio </li></ul></ul>