Posts Tagged ESL

Visiting Indiana

I’m giving one of the talks this year at the Crossroads Conference (tomorrow) at Purdue University. It’s an annual conference sponsored by NSSLHA. Anyway, I usually like to look at the demographic changes in ELL enrollment when I visit a state. I think it helps me to situate what the needs might be concerning bilinguals and helps me to see the challenges that some of the speech-language pathologists might be facing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Catching up despite divided time

This article in the El Paso Times along with the post in language log on word gaps by SES brought to mind arguments about teaching English as a second language and the assumption that more is better. In bilingual education, there is ample evidence that children who learn in dual language environments can and do “catch up” to their monolingual peers on measures of language. Yet, well-meaning school personnel persist in telling parents to switch to English because that will help children learn English better. It doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can it be too late?

Usually, my applied work focuses on limiting OVER-identification (false positives) of language impairment in children who speak English as a second language. But, there’s another side to this too and that’s UNDER-identification of language impairment in this same population. I see these patterns in some of the national schools data. From year to year sometimes it looks like preschool English language learners (ELLs) are less likely than average to be identified with language impairment while school-age ELL children are more likely to be diagnosed with language impairment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Does bilingual education REALLY cost more?

I’m doubtful. What can I say. But, every time I turn around it seems that yet another school district is cutting bilingual education. For me, it doesn’t add up. The most recent story I saw is one in Florida where Orange County Schools will cut programs for more than 1,000 children. Officials are said to have cited class size and time allowed for special language programs.

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New Book on ELL Children

The Guilford Press is releasing a new book edited by Marilyn Shatz and  Louise C. Wilkinson called: The Education of English Language Learners: Research to Practice. Lisa Bedore, Karin Boerger, and I have a chapter in it focusing on semantic development in bilinguals. Here’s a list of the chapter titles and authors (we think we’re in good company and we’re looking forward to seeing the book in print): Read the rest of this entry »

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Not Mastering English (Yet)

Do graduates of American high schools need to master English before they finish High School? A decision by the Oregon Board of Education says no. What is this about? What is mastery of a language anyway? Read the rest of this entry »

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Regional Dialects and L2 Learners

My original intent was to write about our new article coming out in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (shameless plug I know), but this news article about L2 learners learning to distinguish spoken words by reading caught my eye.  

In the original study published in PLoS ONE the authors argue that seeing a written word in addition to hearing it helps listeners to figure out what the word is (when it’s distorted or an element is missing). This helps listeners within a language understand another regional dialect (say an American English speaker hearing Australian English or a Mexican Spanish speaker listening to Argentine Spanish). Of course some of the differences are lexical but many are about the sounds and stress patterns. 

The authors proposed that this same strategy could be used for second language learners who were used to another regional variety of that language. They had Dutch speakers who knew English watch excerpts of TV shows in Australian English or Scottish English (the participants indicated they had not spent significant time in either country). Three conditions were used: no subtitles, subtitles in English, subtitles in Dutch with half the participants watching Scottish and the other half Australian excerpts.

The Dutch participants were tested after watching 25 minutes of an episode. They listened to sentences from Scottish English and Australian English and had to repeat them.  One quarter of the sentences were from the show they had watched, 1/4 were in the same dialect, but hadn’t heard the particular sentences before, and the rest (1/2) were from the other dialect. Read the rest of this entry »

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Testing ESL Children: What we can do now

One of the challenges in assessment of bilingual children is deciding whether or not they have language impairment. On one hand SLPs might decide to wait for children to learn more English before they assess them. On the other hand it’s important to identify children who have language impairment early so that we can intervene.

As of yet there are no standardized tests for bilingual children. There are some standardized tests for children who speak other languages. But, often these tests are inappropriate because they do not apply to children who speak two languages. There are some folks working on development of such tests for Spanish-English speakers (including me), these are few and don’t apply to all language pairs or all ages. At least not yet. So, what can we do NOW for the kids who are referred for assessment of language ability? What do we do to make decisions about language ability in the absence of standardized tests or even in the absence of personnel who speak the child’s language? Read the rest of this entry »

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The role of input

I read this news article while ago, January of this year to be exact and I thought it was really interesting. Paul Sulzberger proposes that people can begin to learn a second language by listening to it. This goes against conventional wisdom in teaching a second language. Often, the focus is on meaning and practice. The idea of focusing on meaning and practice makes sense because in learning a second language one can build on what you already know. You can use the ideas and meanings you know in L1 to match with new words (but same meanings) in L2. Similarly, you can use what you know about grammar in L1 to learn L2. Even if the grammar is different (and it is) you at least can think about the fact that there needs to be a way to talk about the past, present, and future. You know that there’s got to be a rule to talk about one thing vs. more than one thing. So, what does just listening do? How can you learn another language without knowing the meaning? Read the rest of this entry »

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Beyond Words & Grammar: Learning English as a Second Language

I came across this article last night in the Wichita Eagle. It’s about the need for more English as a second language (ESL) teachers in the U.S. The article points out a need both for teachers and for methods in teaching ESL. Challenges to teaching many of these children is their previous level of education, focus on both academic courses that they need and language skills. A focus on only English language skills won’t necessarily Read the rest of this entry »

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