March 2011 – Volume 14, Number 4
How to Teach English Language Learners:
|Diane Haager, Janette K. Klingner, and, Terese C. Aceves (2010)
|San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Educators grapple with finding effective teaching strategies to ensure an equitable learning opportunity for culturally and linguistically diverse students. In How to Teach English Language Learners: Effective Strategies from Outstanding Educators, Haager, Klingner, and Aceves highlight several teachers who have excelled in instructing English Language Learners (ELLs). The authors examine effective teaching strategies that focused on achieving excellent outcomes for ELLs in the areas of reading comprehension and learning English. The book is segmented into three parts followed by a conclusion. Each part provides a synopsis of the teacher, including credentials and teaching experience, and the school. The strategies itemized provide a blueprint for maximizing the learning of ELLs and are organized in the Response to Intervention (RTI) tier model. The authors provide examples of teachers’ schedules, dialogue during instruction, classroom set-ups, teaching methods, and specific questions to ponder as the readers navigate through the book.
Part one of the book focuses on general education reading instruction in tier one of RTI. Chapter one introduces the readers to a second grade teacher who instructs her ELLs in English. Chapter two focuses on two kindergarten teachers who work with their ELLs in a dual immersion program, and chapter three centers on a first grade teacher who teaches bilingual instruction. All the teachers have their unique styles and personal beliefs regarding teaching ELLs. The book identifies several factors central to all the teachers such as a passion for teaching, using benchmark assessments to guide instruction, interpreting progress monitoring data to determine whether or not their instruction was accessible to the students, and providing explicit instruction. Parental involvement, building on prior knowledge, and encouraging English and Spanish proficiency were common themes among the teachers. The educators provide guidance to novice and veteran teachers who struggle with effective practices for ELLs in the general education setting that incorporate state approved curricula and appreciate the diverse knowledge and experience of their students.
The focal point of part two of the book is intervention strategies for struggling readers in tier two of the RTI model. The authors emphasize a collaborative effort of the general education teacher and the supportive staff. The development of a problem-solving action plan based on the identified reading weaknesses of a student is articulated in this chapter. The instruction is intensified using an array of materials, ongoing progress and self-monitoring, and providing meaningful feedback to the student. Once again, parental involvement is highlighted in this chapter. The teachers discuss the importance of understanding the students’ backgrounds and experiences to facilitate bilingual literacy.
Tier three in the RTI model is part three of the book. Two chapters in this section identify two types of special education settings: pull-out and inclusive. The educators discuss the challenges facing students who are bilingual and have learning disabilities. The major themes in these chapters are collaboration with the general education teacher, extensive language instruction, and differentiating instruction to meet the individual needs of the students.
How to Teach English Language Learners: Effective Strategies from Outstanding Educators serves as a guide to successfully instructing ELLs within the structure of the three tier RTI model. This book is an excellent resource for aspirant, novice, and veteran teachers searching for real-life application of best practices teaching strategies for ELLs executed in the classroom and within the RTI model. Personally, the book did not provide any new information regarding effective strategies used to teach ELLs, but it was a pleasure to read about teachers who did not surrender to some common instruction challenges (e.g., time, language barriers, and poverty).
Although the framework of the book surrounds schools with mostly Hispanic students, the instructional methods described are transferable to any ethnically and linguistically student populace. The authors do not explore the factors that contribute to culturally responsive teaching resistance by some educators, but provide transcripts of the teachers’ personal experiences and philosophies on ELLs, which add to the authentic sentiment of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone exploring effective copious techniques to maximize the learning of ELLs.
Communicative Solutions Group
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