Best Practices to Support Language Acquisition
All Carnegie Learning Texas Math Solution lessons utilize the same lesson structure.
- The Engage section is designed to activate prior knowledge, leveraging experiences students have already had and what they know.
- The Develop section is for the development of new mathematical concepts.
- The Demonstrate section is a formative assessment to provide students the opportunity to show what they know, and what key concept(s) they have learned during the lesson.
Throughout all of the Carnegie Learning materials, you will find embedded English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS). They are located in the Teacher’s Implementation Guide (TIG), the Topic Pacing Guide, the Scope and Sequence, and the ELPS Dot Chart which is located in the TIG Front Matter.
The ELPS identify second language acquisition skills students develop as they participate in linguistically accommodated instruction in the content areas. The ELPS are grouped into five categories: learning strategies, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As you move through your Carnegie Learning Lesson Materials, you will notice that the lessons support culturally responsive practices as well and are intended to offer scaffolded support to help students demonstrate what they know as they develop language and content attainment.
In the Engage section of the lesson, students are asked to call upon prior knowledge and leverage the mathematical experiences they bring from home and have attained from prior years using both the home language and English. This is an opportunity for emergent bilinual students to make meaningful connections using language and content. The use of graphs or other visual representations are purposefully embedded to enhance understanding and to help students make connections. Students have the opportunity to create bilingual vocabulary references on these visuals in order to build conceptual understanding while developing English language proficiency. All students should feel comfortable sharing and connecting during this portion of the lesson, so provide as many supports and opportunities for your emergent bilingual students as possible to share in whatever way feels comfortable to them.
In the Develop section of the lesson, you will dive into teaching new mathematical concepts! It is important to make content comprehensible while supporting language development. Tools such as answer banks, vocabulary word banks, sentence frames, and graphic organizers can linguistically accommodate a lesson when used strategically. Intentionally planning opportunities for students to interact with peers and discuss concepts throughout the learning process provides meaningful opportunities for practice. Creating an acceptable space for the use of the home language in the classroom lets students know you recognize and value their contributions regardless of their level of English proficiency.
This is also the portion of the lesson where a high level of collaboration and group work might be taking place. Recall and frame for your students the expectations for working in groups and be sure that contribution from all group members is a priority. It is important that all students feel that they are heard in their group and that their group is a safe space for them to make mistakes whether it be on the mathematical content end or the use of linguistic structures (regardless of language acquisiton status). Mistakes are how we learn and that remains true in group work!
The Demonstrate section of the lesson is the formative assessment which gives students the opportunity to show what they can do and what key concept(s) they have learned during the lesson. This portion of the lesson should be linguistically accommodated differentiated based on the students’ language proficiency levels. Again, the most critical question to ask yourself as the teacher is, how can I linguistically accommodate this formative assessment so that language is not an obstacle to demonstrating content knowledge?
There are many ways to linguistically accommodate the Demonstrate portion of the lesson. The ideas below are suggestions that start with the highest level of support and lessen as a student advances in levels of English proficiency.
- Allow a beginner or intermediate level student to draw a representation or use a visual to show what they learned. Encourage the student to explain the representation.
- Find out if your beginner or intermediate students are literate in their home language and feel comfortable completing Talk the Talk in their home language. If so, locate a person who can translate student responses for you. Ask you campus specialist for help.
- As lessons progress and a beginner or intermediate student has multiple opportunities to practice with content vocabulary, encourage him to insert these words into home language writing in Talk the Talk.
- As students become comfortable using content words in English, offer them a sentence frame so they can begin drafting complete sentences in English.
- Advanced or Advanced High level students may complete Talk the Talk in English with many errors in grammar, spelling and word choice. Focus on the appropriate use of content area vocabulary and organization of writing for clarity. For example, an unclear paragraph could be effectively chunked into numbered, single sentence steps.
As you continue to develop your relationship with your emergent bilingual students, remember to be mindful of the variety of linguistic accommodations that you can bring to the table to ensure that your students are comfortable and set up for success. Language acquisition is not a “one size fits all” methodology and every student will benefit from your flexibility, consistent support and refinement of support. For more resources for supporting emergent bilingual students, please go to the Texas Education Agency’s English Learner Portal (txel.org).