When it comes to working and evaluating English Language Learner (ELL) students’ progress, I believe that language can be broken down into two areas of focus – “input” language and “output” language, input being language that is heard and read, and output being language that is spoken and written. In my experience, it appears that an increased emphasis is usually placed on “output” language rather than “input” language. Not only do the student’s spoken and written work provide tangible proof of what the English-language learner can produce, they are also easier to teach as ample resources exist to support ELLs in developing their conversational and writing skills. That said, I have recently wondered if this may be a backwards approach and if perhaps “input” language skills may need to be given more weight and taught first, for the following reasons.
Firstly, when focusing on “output” language, one tends to ignore how the information is going in, meaning a failure to slow down’s one’s speech or pre-teach academic vocabulary so that the student can understand what is being said and a failure to provide differentiated reading materials and scaffolded learning activities. When this happens, an ELL student is being surrounded by language above their academic abilities and thus are not really grasping curriculum content. This in turn affects their spoken and written assignments, and for good reason, as they are unable to demonstrate a solid understanding of concepts being taught in the classroom because they missed vital pieces of information.
Secondly, when placing “output” above “input,” the tendency is to focus on teaching conversational English vocabulary, which ELL students do need, but it doesn’t help them in communicating the academic English that is required to participate in group work or to deliver oral presentations on topics studied in the classroom. When it comes to writing, the focus tends to be on improving grammar, sentence structure, etc., which again are all necessary skills, don’t get me wrong, but this ignores the content they are meant to be writing about. So, when it comes time to grading ELL students’ knowledge in subject areas, they often score low because they are lacking in two “input” areas – an understanding of the questions being asked, whether orally or in written form, and in comprehension of what was taught because they didn’t fully understand the information, whether it was delivered orally or written form.
As a result of focusing on “output” language, what we tend to see in English-language learners is that they appear conversationally capable and can write sentences/paragraphs that are grammatically correct, yet are still lost in the classroom because they simply don’t have the reading and listening skills to interpret all of the incoming information. I imagine that if we could shift the focus to “input” language and help ELL students in developing strategies to decipher and understand what is being taught in the classroom, and then give them the tools to properly communicate their learnings, it would go a long way in helping them find success in the classroom.
Have any thoughts or opinions on the matter? We’d love to hear them!
When learning to read, several factors come into play, such as phonemic awareness, decoding and reading comprehension. The newly developed learning videos that accompany our CCVC Emergent Readers eBooks are not only in line with our existing progression, but also allow learners to practice the above skills in fun and engaging ways!
Short ‘A’, ‘E’, ‘I’, ‘O’ & ‘U’ & Mixes
CCVC Words Random Mixes
CCVC Words Themed Mixes
The CCVC Words videos are now available in both online and offline formats for your convenience and are suitable for both classroom and at-home use. Explore our purchasing options to learn more and stay tuned for upcoming sets of learning videos!
Looking for a way to assess reading skills in addition to teaching them? Check our editable Reading Assessment Forms that allow you to track student progress at the beginner stages of reading.
At Education by Shala Books, we are always looking for ways to enhance our existing resources, and so when Timmy Riday, an English teacher, and Qingdao LEKU Education & Culture Entertainment Co. Ltd. proposed the creation of learning videos to accompany our existing Emergent and Transitional Readers eBooks, it was an idea we immediately jumped on as we could see the value in them for learners. Do you have an idea that you feel would be of benefit? If so, feel free to contact us to discuss selling opportunities on our website!
As a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) teacher, one of the things I found most frustrating was planning for multiple language levels in a single classroom – ranging from beginner to advanced level students. To plan for these classes, I needed access to all three levels’ objectives at my fingertips, and I needed to be able to combine them on a single planning document in order to avoid each class having multiple lesson planning documents for a single lesson, which would have been a nightmare to keep track of. And because of this, our upcoming planning software, ESBPlanners, was designed specifically to address this need.
As an MFL teacher, ESBPlanners will not only allow you to access as many different language level objectives as needed from drop-down menus, but also to combine them all on a single document, which means easy planning for any classes you teach! Or, if planning on a single document isn’t for you, you also have the option of opening and working on multiple planning templates at once and copying/pasting between them as needed. As a bonus, we have already created an extensive template blank with ready-made multi-level MFL templates to start your planning from – these templates can be modified as you like. And, if you can’t find one that suits your needs, you can always create your own personalized templates that can be saved as planners and used over and over again. These templates can also be easily shared between colleagues to facilitate unified team planning.
In prior blog articles I have also highlighted the benefits of transdisciplinary planning on language learning – however, to do this effectively, the MFL team must have access to the mainstream and specialist teachers’ unit planning in advance. With ESBPlanners, this becomes a snap as teachers can instantly share any planning documents they are working on, and shared planners can be commented on if any clarifications are needed, thus eliminating the need to always meet in person.
In addition to all these fantastic features, the software also will enable you to do the following:
These are but a few highlights outlining what ESBPlanners will offer for MFL teachers. Stayed tuned for its upcoming release in 2022!