The Advanced Stage (Langauge Development)

Students at the advanced stage can give you the impression that they are quite fluent in English. They are able to retell events in greater detail, usually use standard grammar, and speak with fewer errors. It is easy to assume that students at this stage are no longer English learners. However, students at this level still need a great deal of support, especially language that is used for content area instruction. These students require substantial practice with academic language in order for them to be successful
in school. At this stage, too, we believe it is appropriate to teach grammar as long as it is integrated within meaningful communication activities. Many published programs for teaching English as a second language include instructional activities for teaching grammar. But again, we caution you to avoid drills and exercises that isolate skills from meaningful communication. Academic language can be described as language that is used for the purpose of acquiring new knowledge and skills (Chamot & O’Mally, 1994). Students need to be able to follow oral explanations of concepts that are taught in the various subject areas. They also need to be able to use appropriate vocabulary to describe how
to solve a math problem, explain the conclusions of a science experiment, and describe causes for an historical event. Thus, for students at the advanced stage we recommend that you:
Ø  Continue to focus on vocabulary used in subject area instruction such as math, science, and history/social science. This involves teaching new words as well as teaching new meanings of words
Ø  students may already be familiar with (i.e., map terms such as legend and scale).
Ø  Expose students to more complex language structures. Model the language that is necessary to understand grade-level concepts and grade-level textbooks.
Ø  Continue to provide comprehensible input by using charts, pictures, providing examples, and or demonstrating how to convey the meaning of new vocabulary and expressions. Paraphrasing, repeating key vocabulary, and summarizing main points are also effective strategies.
Ø  Constantly monitor students’ comprehension by asking questions frequently. Questions can check for understanding of key terms (What is a carnivore?) but should also include high level open-ended questions that require students to compare and contrast and analyze and evaluate (How do you think the climate in this region would affect the people’s lives?).
Ø  Provide students with many opportunities not only to listen to academic language that is made comprehensible for them but also to practice using academic language. For example, through cooperative learning activities in small groups or with partners, students can create a bar graph and explain it to the class or conduct a science experiment and describe their procedure and findings.
Chamot and O’Malley (1994) offer many excellent suggestions for integrating the teaching of content with academic language.  Advanced students also need instruction to broaden their vocabulary related to literature. Most language arts programs include many activities to develop vocabulary that are also appropriate for English learners. But keep in mind that English learners will need more explicit instruction and practice with words and expressions with which they have had little experience.
Vocabulary development is closely related to reading and academic achievement.
 Important Points to Remember for Advanced Stage
Ø  Focus on vocabulary and academic language used in all subject areas.
Ø  Provide comprehensible input when new terms are introduced.
Ø  Do not assume that students understand; always check for comprehension.
Ø  Provide many opportunities for students to practice using academic language.

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