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Langauage Acquisition Theories

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Submitted By mericamarie
Words 881
Pages 4
ESL 433-N

June 23, 2013

Merica Smith

The article “Bridging Two Worlds: Reading Comprehension, Figurative Language Instruction and the English-Language Learner” is about an ELL students progress to becoming successful with English figurative language and the strategies used by the teacher to support this student. The student was a “language broker” for his non-English speaking parents. The article explained six strategies that contributed to the student’s success. The strategies are described as interrelated meaning that they relate to and work with each other to achieve a common objective. These strategies while useful alone are more effective when combined together to scaffold learning.
One of the strategies talked about was explicit instruction. This type of instruction is needed to assist with understanding figurative language expressions and the context that surrounds the expression. It is often helpful to students with no background with figurative language. This instruction is used in conjunction with three steps for figuring the meaning of a figurative language expression. In order to complete the task of figuring out the meaning, you must identify the figurative language expression, determine the literal meaning and then find intended meaning of expression.
Connecting information and expressions to the real world is an important part of helping students, especially ELL students when it comes to learning things they may be unfamiliar with. “Qualls and Harris (1999) argued that figurative language may be better understood in more natural settings” (Palmer, 2006). From this you can gather that relating information to what is already known or familiar can help a lot when it comes to teaching and learning figurative language. A recommended item to use is student-created tools. Student-created tools are a good way of incorporating peer teaching. It may help a student that does not understand the way a teacher explains something but can understand it if a peer explains it to them.
Dialogue in context is a great way for students to learn the different types of figurative language and how to find context clues. “Using this strategy, teachers would define the various forms of figurative language and provide examples of each in the context of a sentence or paragraph” (Palmer, 2006). Modeling and independent practice is of the upmost importance when learning period. It helps a lot when a teacher models or shows what is expected or how to do a task. Sometimes seeing something done is all it takes for a student to grasp a concept. Like the saying goes “practice makes perfect”. Practicing may not make a student perfect in deciphering figurative language but it will help them to be more successful and have a better understanding of it.
Visualizations can help in many different ways. They helped the ELL in the article by allowing him to draw what he interpreted the expressions to be. For the visual learner, this will help them to gain a concept sometimes faster than normal. With ELLs, being able to draw what they are interpreting from a lesson, a teacher can plan accordingly and assist a student better.
When instructing ELLs, use of their native language is vital to their success. “For years, bilingual education researchers have substantiated the critical connection between primary language skills and academic success” (Palmer, 2006). A learner must have understanding in their own language before they can be successful in another language. This strategy is a little like common sense. It only makes sense that in order for one to understand a new language, they must first understand their main language. For example, with bilingual teachers and interpreters they have to understand English in order to translate in another language. If they don’t, then they are possibly interpreting or translating the wrong thing leading to misinformation and confusion.
I believe these are great strategies that I can possibly use in the future in my classroom. As I work with younger children now, visualization is a big thing in my classroom. Everything is labeled with words in English and Spanish and a picture of the item. The schedule is posted in English and Spanish and includes pictures of the activities. There is also a lot of modeling. When doing small group and large group activities, things are broken down to where everyone understands. There is one on one time when needed and a lot of peer teaching that goes on. From observations, I have seen that children help each other out tremendously during play. For example, one of the ELLs kept saying an item in Spanish. Another child told the child to point to it. When the ELL did, the child helped him say it in English. He modeled it and let him practice saying it. That observation amazed me because for one the children are three years old but they actually pay attention to how I help the child and they are able to help each other without assistance or intervention from me. I will definitely keep this article at hand and use the strategies to better ensure that I am helping all my students learn.

Reference
Palmer, B. C., Shackelford, V. S., Miller, S. C., & Leclere, J. T. (2006). Bridging two worlds: Reading comprehension, figurative language instruction, and the English-language learner. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(4), 258-267.…...

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