Educators have access to many resources via the vast knowledge of information that is on-line. We encourage you to look for research-based practices and collaborate with others in the field to continue
to improve student achievement. Below is a starting point for educators. Through Central Rivers AEA we have two Consultants for English Language Learners, Annalisa Miner and Lisa Wymore, who are here to assist you in person and have professional discussions around the topics where districts would like assistance. Please feel free to contact them at any time.
Understanding language acquisition
In order to know what resources to use with English learners (ELs), teachers must first know a student’s level of English Proficiency. Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) may take up to 2 years to acquire. This is everyday, basic vocabulary. However, it can take students 5-10 years to learn Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). CALP consists of the academic language, higher order thinking, vocabulary, etc… that students need to be successful in our academic settings. Problems sometimes arise when teachers think that a student is proficient in English, because they have good BICS. This sometimes tricks educators into thinking that “they have great English and can carry on a fine conversation with me. Why aren’t they turning in their homework?” The answer may be that they have good oral language, but have not acquired the academic language necessary to be successful in school. It is crucial, as an educator, that you learn your student’s level of English proficiency and use this to guide instruction.
How do you know a students’ level of English Proficiency?
Each identified ELL is required annually to take the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21). Students will have scores in reading, writing, speaking, and listening English proficiency (1-5). Ask your ESL teacher or administrator for this data. If a student is new to the district, they will have been given the ELPA21 Dynamic Screener which will provide teachers this information. It is crucial to know where your ELL students are at. We encourage you to take a few minutes to find this data on each student. It will save you weeks in learning this information on your own.
Once I know my students level of English proficiency, how do I know what the data means?
The Language Acquisition Chart provides educators characteristics and behaviors on each proficiency level, as well as instructional and assessment strategies. This is a very broad overview.
Educators can access the Achievement Level Descriptors (ALD’s) and Achievement Level Indicators (ALI’s)(1) to get further understanding of the data by grade level and domain (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).
The WIDA CAN DO descriptors are a resource to assist in understanding what ELs can be expected to know in the different domains. (Although WIDA is a different state assessment, we still feel these are valuable tools.) Once you know your student’s proficiency level, look up the grade bands you are teaching and this will give you a basic overview of what the students ‘can do’ at each proficiency level in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This is a fantastic tool to see if what you are asking the student to do aligns with what are ‘reasonable’ expectations. These can also be used to guide instruction and assessments, and to choose appropriate strategies.
What are some other resources I can access to use in my classroom?
As we stated earlier, there are thousands of websites devoted to ELs. Below we will provide you some sites that we feel will give you a good start and can provide some instructional support. However, keep in mind, we are always here to assist you in person!
Iowa AEA Online offers many sites that can be used for classroom instruction (and also at home with families, see ‘Parents tab’ for more details). The Iowa AEA Online Resources has descriptions of each site and how it can be used to support your ELs Don’t miss out on this resource and how you can use these in your classrooms!
Graphic Organizer sites:
Activities for ESL Students
Grammar, vocabulary, crossword puzzles, and bilingual quizzes in 20+ languages of instruction.
A language learning website to promote language acquisition, vocabulary, etc…
ESL at Home: 8 Weeks Tech Free
Activities that can be done at home for k-8 students. Students use common household items to complete learning tasks.
For ages 2 – 18, available in 40 languages, exercises, quizzes, and tests so students can practice and master skills, as well as instructional videos to help students learn or review material. Free videos are nearly all in Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese (in addition to English) and may be useful to parents who are trying to support their children.
ESL/ELL Education Interactive Website
This site has a list of interactive resources for English learners.
Check out this website for all your needs…technology, curriculum, methods, research, blogs, and a wealth of other links and resources.
Dave’s ESL Cafe
Dave offers ideas for teachers as well as students! A place to learn and connect with others.
International Children’s Digital Library
The ICDL’s goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children’s literature from the world community. The site has multiple languages available.
Unite for Literacy
A collection of fiction and nonfiction books in multiple languages for to support literacy, vocabulary, and concept learning.
Learning ESL…A Wealth of Resources for Children and Adults Learning English as a Second Language
Students can sit on their couch and practice up on their English language skills via the many different offerings on this site! This website is geared towards all ages and has many links that support interactive learning.