ELL Literature Review
Today, schools in the United States are experiencing a swiftly growing number of students that are English Language Learners (ELLs). National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition reports that by 2015 the number of ELL students enrolled in U.S. schools will be 10 million and by 2025, 25% of the average school population will be ELL students. Part of the significant increase in the number of ELL students is a result of generations not acquiring the language and vocabulary, resulting in additional generations of native born U.S. citizen ELL students (Baecher, Artigliere, Patterson & Spatzer, 2012). The articles that I reviewed in this paper provided research based intervention strategies for teachers to enrich and promote the educational success of ELL students. This literature review provides ideas about direct instruction, sheltering techniques, differentiated instructions and overcoming barriers related to teaching ELL students. It also expresses the importance of accepting cultural differences and embracing them into the classroom culture as well as being sensitive to the priorities and beliefs of various cultures.
The most significant step that an educator can take to be better equipped to teach an ever changing and diverse population of students is to become familiar with strategies that benefit ELL learners, understand the language acquisitions process for ELL learners and provide them with an educational environment that is engaging and accepting. Teachers that connect with diverse cultures by learning the background, understanding their family beliefs/structure, recognizing social economic status and accepting all of the cultural differences will be more equipped to teach ELL students and will find greater success in their teaching. We begin this literature review with a brief overview of what language development looks like for an ELL student.
Most new learners of English will go through what is referred to as the “silent period” this is an amount of time that the student is either unable to or unwilling to communicate orally in the new language. Typically when the student is ready to speak they will, however, within the classroom they should not be forced to speak. During this period the student is acquiring vocabulary, developing receptive language skills and observing peer interactions skills that they can later use. This stage will progress eventually to phrases, questions and then full sentences when the student feels comfortable. Research conducted by Brice & Wertheim (2004/2005) indicated that if a student has been exposed to two languages simultaneously or in somewhat equal parts then a balanced bilingual language development can occur. In contrast when the second language becomes predominant in most environments and the native language is used less frequently language loss begins to occur. Cummins (1998) state that the acquisition of English while losing the native language has the following strong consequential effects: the child’s language may resemble a language learning disability; communication with parents may diminish; it may take significantly longer to develop full academic language skills in English; and transference of learned language skills from the native language to English will be diminished. Due to the fact that most states cannot afford dual language programs for their ELL students it is imperative that teachers have access to research based intervention strategies that can be implemented in the classroom and will support the learning of their ELL students. Oral language development is the first area of language acquisition that we will address. Soto-Hinman’s (2011) article Increasing Academic Oral Language Development Using English Language Learner Shadowing in Classrooms stated that the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth (2006) suggests that oral language development is the foundation