Academic language can be difficult for ELLs

Posted on Feb 3, 2018 in Events | 27 comments

Academic language can be difficult for ELLs

Academic language can be a struggle for ELLs as it is complex and requires measured instruction as K-12 featured speaker Susan Martin discussed Saturday during her presentation “Academic Langauge in Teaching and Learning Across the Curriculum: A Functional Approach.”

“A lot of people don’t realize there is a huge difference between academic language and social language and even if they do, they don’t think about the complexities of academic language and when they do, they sometimes have a difficult time breaking that academic language down so it is comprehensible for English learners,” said Martin.

To help those educators, Martin offered several suggestions and offered online resources to help in educating ELLs about academic language and its proper usage. She gave handouts on descriptors of the levels of English language proficiency for pre-K-12, vocabulary strategies and academic language at levels of linguistic generality.

Martin also reminded teachers that often we are very attentive to the struggling beginning-level learners and praise and push the advanced-level students while sometimes forgetting those in the middle.

“It’s the kids in the middle that stay there so long. Those are the ones I think stay there for the five to seven years because they are passing, they’re getting most of the content knowledge, but they are not advancing linguistically like they should, even if they are getting that content knowledge,” she said, who was referring to the national statistics that indicate ELLs typically take five to seven years to gain English proficiency.

Martin also had some words of wisdom to share with her colleagues who teach ELLs: Imagine that you are a ninth-grader in a different country because your parents moved or relocated here for jobs and think about you would want your teacher to do so you good get the content of the lessons and communicate with your peers in general.

“Always put yourself in the shoes of the learner.”






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