Thoughts on English Language Learning

April 6, 2011 at 4:08 PM 2 comments

In the world of multiple intelligences, linguistics is NOT one of mine. However, I try to pay attention to any dialogue on language acquisition or management of English Language Learners (ELL). After many years of listening to proponents for bilingual education, full immersion, or sheltered immersion programs, I have designed a couple of hybrid models for 1st year ELL students.

The first, CharterAmericas creates a community center based charter school that assimilates the speaker of limited English with a very strong primary language. The program celebrates the intersection of the cultures of the Americas and provides a combination of bilingual and sheltered immersion learning. Further, it seeks to engage the local community in a shared value of multilingual language fluency.

The second, a Cultural Studies program, focuses on native language instruction of topics across the curriculum to students with very little understanding of English and significant gaps in knowledge from very significant absenteeism. In this latter program, the goal for students is to achieve foundation content knowledge and improve skill in language arts while studying their own culture and native tongue.

Common themes with both programs include…

  • Strong language arts studies in the student’s native language
  • English taught as a foreign language credit
  • Emphasis on native language for new academic content, English instruction for rehearsal of familiar concepts
  • Living arts content in English with vocabulary training and hands-on learning opportunities

Option 1: A charter school that serves as a one-year intensive academic transition program for newcomers with modest English proficiency. The school is part of a community center that serves the extended family as they adjust to life in an English-speaking world.


Languages of the Americas, Year 1 ELL program 

Language Arts – Primary language at grade level with learning standards comparable to ELA. This course is intended to develop deep knowledge and appreciation of reading with comprehension, writing by genre with appropriate mechanics, and vocabulary growth in the students’ native language.

Co-teaching at Grade level with interpreter – in English + primary language translations with after-school tutoring in primary language

  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Science

Electives – bilingual with English vocabulary learning standards, oral and written assessments, and performance tasks for content

  • English I as a Foreign Language credit
  • The Arts – fine art, music, drama, dance
  • Living Arts – Culinary arts, fashion, woodworking, handyman
  • Technology – Keyboarding, Office Software, Graphics, Web Design,
  • Health and Physical Education

Community links

  • Lifelong learning – tutoring support after program completion
  • Whole family success planning (ESL, career counseling and training, adult education)
  • Leadership series – multilingual lectures, debates, cultural events
  • Part-time interpreters from community
  • Feeder schools in local district
  • Universities with cultural links – Latino and/or Caribbean studies
  • Performance series – student and community productions
  • Support services – counseling, health links  

Languages supported

  • Creole
  • English
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

Entry filed under: Design Concepts, ELL, ELL Transition Programs.

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