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ESL Literacy - University of Alberta
Created at www.wordle.net
Literacy Instruction:
Techniques on How to Teach a Beginner
Jackie Foster
Shari Vass
Jolene Helgason
November 24th, 2008
EDPY 413
University of Alberta
Literacy Instruction





Key Points About ELLs
Phonics and Phonetics
Vocabulary Building
Comprehension/Assessment
Reflection
Created at www.wordle.net
Key Points to Remember about
English Language Learners
Key Points to Remember about
English Language Learners

Differences between immigrants and refugees.

ELLs need a supportive learning community.

ELLs’ ability to decode does not equal ability to
understand (vocabulary & context).

ELLs may lack knowledge of grammatical structure.

Ex. When I went to the park, I …
Key Points to Remember about
English Language Learners

Some ELLs need to learn an entirely new
orthography and phonology (writing and
sound systems).

Some ELLs may never have had formal
schooling in their L1 and as such, they need
to learn to read, in addition to learning to read
in English.
Key Points to Remember about
English Language Learners

Teaching styles vary widely
from country to country.


E.g. making inferences from texts
may be a completely new concept.
Some ELLs who have formally
studied English in their home
country, may have a preference
for reading and writing or
speaking and listening,
depending on how they were
taught.
Key Points to Remember about
English Language Learners

Some ELLs may experience difficulty hearing certain
sounds.

E.g. Distinguishing between two sounds.

Some may have a high level of BICS but a low level
of CALP.

ELLs competent in reading in their L1, can use
some of the same strategies to read in English.
Phonology & Phonetics
What is it?
Why is it important to ELLs?
How do you teach it?
What is it?
(Congdon, 1974, pp. 1-2)

Phonetics: The science of sounds.

Phoneme: Spoken sound. The smallest unit of sound in a
word.

E.g. BATH has three (3) phonemes: /b/ /a/ /th/.

Phonics: The visual representation of speech sounds found
in the various letters or clusters of letters in written words.

Grapheme: The written visual representations.

E.g. the letters of the alphabet (the ‘b’ ‘a’ ‘t’ ‘h’).
What Does it Mean
to Teach Phonics?
Phonics instruction examines the relationships between the
letters of written language (graphemes) and the individual
sounds of spoken language (phonemes) and how these
relationships are used to read and write words (Carnine et al, 2006
p. 55).
Phonemic Awareness
(Carnine et al, 2006, p. 35)

Refers to the awareness of phonemes (the
smallest units of sound in spoken language).

Focus is on identifying and manipulating
individual sounds within words.
The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Fifth
Edition, 2006, by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Phonemic Awareness (cont’d)

Carnine et al (2006) identified Phonemic
Blending and Phonemic Segmentation as
the two most crucial components.

This is because they are directly related to
sounding-out words.
Why is having Phonemic
Awareness Important?
More specifically, why is it important
for English Language Learners?
Phonetics & Pronunciation



Amy Gregory (2003) taught two applied
linguistics courses in Spanish.
She was not happy with the pre-service
teachers’ level of knowledge in Phonetics
and Phonology.
The teachers did not see the relevance of
it to their future teaching careers.
Phonetics & Pronunciation (Cont’d)

Gregory (2003) notes that “the knowledge of
phonetics and phonology can be vital in the
acquisition of target [language] pronunciation”
(p. 203).

She states that teaching the learner how the
sounds of the L2 are different from the L1 is a
useful method to help the learner perceive the
L2 phonemes.
Phonetics & Pronunciation (Cont’d)

Instructors are likely to be more concerned
that their students are communicating
meaning rather than proper pronunciation
(Gregory, 2003).

On that note, she quoted one of her
students saying that:
…the professors and peers stop correcting us after they think that we
know sufficient enough Spanish to get by. So then you have students who
aren’t afraid to speak it in front of a big group and sometimes we really can’t
understand them because they are speaking very fast and unclear (p. 203).
How is Proper Pronunciation
Relevant to Reading?

Roberts (2005) conducted a study and
reported that “quality of English articulation
was found to have a robust influence on
children’s phonemic awareness and
beginning word reading” (p. 610).

Furthermore, she found that English oral
proficiency (having basic communicative
competence) was not significantly related to
phonemic awareness or word reading.
Roberts (2005) (cont’d)



Articulation and vocabulary were found to be
highly correlated and both were associated
with higher levels of phonemic awareness.
However, articulation had a much stronger
effect.
In fact, vocabulary only had an effect through
articulation.

Having a larger vocabulary results in better articulation. Better
articulation has a strong effect on phonemic awareness.
So what?

We have seen how having better
articulation and pronunciation helps
ELLs improve their phonemic
awareness.

Does this help them read better?
The Development of Reading in Children
Who Speak English as a Second Language
(Lesaux & Siegel, 2003).

This study examined students’ reading levels
in Kindergarten and classified the students as
being L1 or ESL.

From there, they divided each group into “atrisk” for reading failure and “not-at-risk”.
The Development of Reading in Children
Who Speak English as a Second Language
(Lesaux & Siegel, 2003) Cont’d

All Kindergarten children were then given
phonological awareness training in the form
of classroom-based small group learning.


Some carried on into Grade 1.
Students were then re-assessed in Grade 2
The Development of Reading in Children
Who Speak English as a Second Language
(Lesaux & Siegel, 2003) Cont’d

Findings:



“It is clear that Kindergarten phonological awareness
instruction in the context of a balanced early literacy
program is as effective for ESL speakers as it is for
L1 speakers in the early grades of school” (p. 1016).
By Grade 2, ESL children were reading at the same
level or higher than the L1 children.
“Phonological processing was the single best
predictor of Grade 2 word reading ability” (p. 1017).
The Development of Reading in Children
Who Speak English as a Second Language
(Lesaux & Siegel, 2003, p. 1016)
The Development of Reading in Children
Who Speak English as a Second Language
(Lesaux & Siegel, 2003) Cont’d


As with Roberts (2005), this study also found
that fluency and proficiency in English were
less important in determining reading level
than successfully acquiring the soundsymbol relationship of the language.
Phonological Awareness ability (or lack
thereof) has been linked to difficulties with
early reading acquisition in both L1 and ESL
children.
Phonology in Second Language
Reading: Not an Optional Extra
(Walter, 2008)

Walter’s study compared two ESL groups to
an L1 English group.

The two ESL groups were divided by their L2
reading comprehension ability into either the
“Good C” group, or the “Poor C” group.
Phonology in Second Language
Reading: Not an Optional Extra
(Walter, 2008) Cont’d

Phonological Similarity Effect:



“Good C” L2 group performed just as well as the
L1 group.
The “Poor C” L2 group, performed significantly
worse than both groups.
A follow-up study confirmed that the poorer
performance by the “Poor C” group was not
due to insufficient grapheme
correspondences.
How To Teach Phonetics to
ESL Students

Walters (2008) concluded that to improve L2
reading comprehension, it may be necessary
to spend time explicitly teaching ELLs to
recognize L2 phonemes.

She recommends games that differentiate
minimal pairs.
How To Teach Phonetics to
ESL Students Cont’d

Minimal Pairs are sets of words that are
exactly the same except for one phoneme.


E.g. “cat” and “sat”. Only the /c/ and /s/ differ.
BINGO!
www.eslhq.com
Elkonin Boxes
www.bogglesworldesl.com
Each pair has one sound in common. Students listen for the common sound.
Then mark it on the Elkonin box.
As an optional exercise students can stretch out the words and fill in the
boxes with the corresponding graphemes for each phoneme.
Elkonin Boxes
www.bogglesworldesl.com
Elkonin Boxes
www.bogglesworldesl.com
Teaching Phonemic
Awareness

The National Reading Panel identified
Rhyming as a phonological awareness skill (as
cited in Carnine et al, 2006).


It focuses students on the parts of words that
are bigger than phonemes, but smaller than
syllables.
Teaching rhyming prepares students to put
word parts together.
The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Fifth
Edition, 2006, by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Created at www.wordle.net
Vocabulary
Vocabulary knowledge
is knowledge; the
knowledge of a word
not only implies a
definition, but also
implies how that word
fits into the world.
(Stahl, 2005)
Vocabulary Development

Words are grouped into 3 tiers by Beck and colleagues so
that a systematic method of selecting vocabulary to teach
to students is possible(Calderon, 2007, pp. 30 – 33)

1) Tier 1


2) Tier 2




Words that English-speaking students already know
Words that have importance and utility
Words that have instructional potential
Words for which students already have a conceptual understanding
3) Tier 3

Words that students are unlikely to know and are not frequently used
Tier 1
(Calderon, 2007, p. 30)

These are words that ELLs need for everyday
speech, for academic conversations and for
explanations.


ELLs typically know the concept in their primary
language but not the label in English.


Examples: Connectors: so, if, then, and, the
Examples: Basic words: find, answer, tooth
Example: A tier 1 word may be “butterfly”; it may
be a word that is unfamiliar but can be easily
taught in a lesson just by showing a picture.
Tier 2
(Calderon, 2007, p. 32)


These are words that have importance and
utility because they are in grade-level texts.
These words are targeted for instruction


Some research shows that tier 2 words get
missed by ESL teachers as they typically teach
tier 1 words and mainstream teachers generally
teach tier 3 words (content words).
These are words in which the students may
understand the general concept but would
need assistance in describing it.
Tier 2 Word List
consult
establish
accelerate
context
evaluate
achieve
contrast
evident
isolate
prime
adjacent
contribute
expand
Magnetic
principle
stable
alternative
convert
expose
magnitude
proceed
statistic
analyze
create
external
major
publish
status
approach
criterion
feasible
manipulate
pursue
structure
approximate
crucial
fluctuate
mathematics
random
subsequent
arbitrary
data
focus
method
range
suffice
assert
define
formulate
minimum
react
sum
assess
Definite
function
modify
region
summary
assign
demonstrate
generate
negative
require
technique
assume
denote
guarantee
notion
respective
technology
authorize
derive
hypothesis
obtain
restrict
tense
automatic
design
identify
obvious
reverse
theory
chapter
devise
ignore
occur
role
trace
compensate
devote
illustrate
passive
section
tradition
complex
dimension
impact
period
segment
transmit
complicate
distinct
implicit
perspective
select
ultimate
comply
distort
imply
pertinent
sequence
undergo
component
element
indicate
phase
series
usage
comprehend
emphasize
individual
phenomena
shift
valid
conceive
empirical
Inhibit
portion
signify
vary
concentrate
ensure
initial
portion
similar
verbal
concept
entity
innovation
potential
simultaneous
verify
conclude
environment
intense
precede
sophisticated
vertical
consequent
equate
interpret
precise
species
consist
equivalent
intuitive
presume
specify
constant
involve
construct http://mercury.educ.kent.edu/database/eureka/documents/introducingnewvocabteacherresourcechart_handout.doc
Tier 3
(Calderon, 2007, p. 33)


These words are specific to certain content
areas, thus they are low-frequency words in
English.
Students will likely learn these words as they
learn a new concept.
An example of a tier 3 word,
would be photosynthesis.

Teaching Vocabulary
New vocabulary needs to be explicitly taught to get the
English language learner caught up to grade level.
Teaching Vocabulary
Word
Definition
Context
Connection Prompt
region
An extensive, continuous part of
an area or space.
A part of the earth's surface
(land or sea) of considerable and
usually indefinite extent: a
tropical region.
What region of the world would you
like to visit?
http://mercury.educ.kent.edu/database/eureka/documents/introducingnewvocabteacherresourcechart_handout.doc
Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching new vocabulary before
introducing it in a new unit is critical for
comprehension!

It is vital to the student that the teacher
pre-teach the words that will be in the
material. The ELL student may not know
any English words in that subject area.
7 Steps To Pre-Teaching
Vocabulary
(Caleron, 2007, p.34)
1.
2.
3.
4.
1.
2.
Say the new word in English
State the word in context from the text
Provide a definition
Provide an example that clarifies the word’s
meaning (use student-friendly language)
Have the students repeat the word 3 times
Get the students engaged with the word
Have the students say the word again (either alone
or in the original sentence).
Teaching Vocabulary

Use visuals when introducing new vocabulary




Create a word wall in the classroom
Put labels around the classroom so that students can make
connections between oral and written English.
Use real objects to encourage students to use all of their senses
to learn
Use graphic organizers so that students are able to see the
relationship between new and existing concepts.


Venn diagrams are used to compare and contrast words
across subjects, which helps them remember that the
new word may have multiple meanings.
Flow charts and mind maps are also useful.
Teaching Vocabulary

Allow for lots of practice through a variety of activities.
 Allow students to make their own dictionaries/
glossaries
 Allow for group work
 Example: Students could work in pairs and draw
pictures to remember the word or make a poem
 Read-Alouds
 Vocabulary is developed through the ongoing dialogue
between the teacher and the students regarding the
text that is being read. The teacher will use different
types of questions and stop at specific times to initiate
a discussion.
Where Do We Go From Here?

Use Frequency Lists – The 2000 highest frequency
words in English comprise about 80% of the text
 The General Service List of the top 2000 frequent
words:




http://www.auburn.edu/~nunnath/engl6240/wlistgen.html
http://www.lextutor.ca
Choose Words From Tier 2 – these academic words
cross over domains and broaden vocabularies
Use Engaging Materials - use visuals, pictures, labels
and real objects when ever possible.
 Picture dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries may also
be very useful.
The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Fifth
Edition, 2006, by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Strategies to Teach New
Vocabulary
(Caleron, 2007, p. 43)

For Reviewing Words With Numbered
Heads Together




Students number off from 1 – 4.
The teacher gives them a typed list of Tier 1, 2,
and 3 words learned that week.
Students must make sure everyone in the team
knows the definition, spelling, pronunciation, and
how to use that word in a sentence.
The teacher calls a number, the corresponding
student is given a word and must answer for the
team by saying it, spelling it, and using it in a
sentence.
Strategies to Teach New
Vocabulary

For Reviewing Words with Expert Jigsaw



The teacher gives each team a different set of
laminated index cards with vocabulary words
on one side and definitions on the other.
Students must make sure everyone in their
team knows the definition, spelling and
pronunciation of each word and how to use it
in a sentence.
Then, every 3 minutes two students go to a
different table to teach and test those
students.
Strategies to Teach New
Vocabulary

For Reviewing Words with Vocabulary
Roundtable


Each team uses only one paper and one
pencil.
In round-table style, each student writes one
word learned that week and passes the paper
to the right. The next student writes a different
one, and so on, until the teacher calls time.
The team with the most words wins.
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Ideas for Aiding Comprehension
Drucker (2003). What reading teachers should know about ESL learners. The Reading Teacher; Sep 2003; 57, 1; ProQuest Education Journals pg. 23
Comprehension Strategies

Previewing

Paired Reading

Choral readings

Books with tapes

Shared Reading

Multicultural literature
Comprehension Strategies
(Cont’d)



Language experience
approach

Narrow reading

Read aloud

Think alouds
Interactive writing
Total physical response
Comprehension Strategies
(Cont’d)

GIST (Generating Interaction between
Schemata and Text)

Free Voluntary Reading

Story Re-enactment

Group work
Assessment

Running records

Acting

Paraphrasing

Illustration

Allowing extra time
Assessment





Use performance assessments, as they show
what the child can do and what they know
Graphic organizers
Reading inventories
Reading conferences
Anecdotal notes
Reading Conference Record
Houk, F.A. (2005). Supporting English Language Learners: A guide for teachers and administrators. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann
Reflection

What caught your attention?

What concerns do you have?

What are the key insights here?

What are you personally
committed to do?
References
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Calderon, M. (2007). Reading to English language learners, Grades 6-12: A framework for
improving achievement in the content areas. California: Corwin Press
Carnine, D. W., Silbert, J., Kame’enui, E. J., Tarver, S.G., Jungohann, K. (2006). Teaching
struggling and at-risk readers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Cobb, T. (2007). Why & how to use frequency lists to learn words. Retrieved from
http://www.wordhacker.com/en/article/usefrequency2learnwords.htm
Congdon, P. J. (1974). Phonic skills and their measurement. Oxford: Blackwell
Crawford, B., Cummins, J., Giles, S., Grant, K., Jensen, V., McPhail, S., et al. (2002) Literacy
place teacher’s toolkit: A guide to using literacy place in your classroom. Markham,
Ontario: Scholastic Canada.
Davies S. K., Taylor, D. (2007) Teaching English language learners: Strategies that work. New
York: Scholastic.
Day, R. R. (Ed.). (1993) New ways in teaching reading. Alexandria, Virginia: Teachers of English
to Speakers of Other Languages
Drucker (2003). What reading teachers should know about ESL learners. The Reading Teacher;
Sep 2003; 57, 1; ProQuest Education Journals pg. 22
Fry, E. B., & Kress, J. E. (2006). The reading teachers book of lists (5th ed.). San Fransico, CA:
Jossey-Bass
Gregory, A. E. (2005). What’s phonetics got to do with language: Investigating future teachers’
use of knowledge about phonetics and phonology. In N. Bartels (Ed.), Applied linguistics
and language teacher education (vol. 4) (pp. 201-220).
Haynes, J. Vocabulary Instruction for English language learners. Retrieved from
http://www.everythingesl.net/inservices/vocabulary_instructi_language__80932.php
Herrell, A. L., Jordan, M. (2008) 50 strategies for teaching English Language Learners (3rd ed.).
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
References
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Houk, F. A. (2005). Supporting English language learners: A guide for teachers and
administrators. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann
Lesaux, N. K., & Siegel, L. S. (2003). The development of reading in children who speak English
as a second language. Developmental Psychology, 39(6), 1005-1019. doi:10.1037/00121649.39.6.1005
McIntyre, E., Kyle, D.W., Chen, C.T., Kraemer, J., Parr, J. (2009) 6 principles for teaching English
language learners in all classrooms. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
Muchisky, B. (2007) Classroom strategies: A tool kit for teaching English Language Learners.
Westport, Connecticut: Teachers Ideas Press.
Roberts, T. A. (2005). Articulation accuracy and vocabulary size contributions to phonemic
awareness and word reading in English language learners. Journal of Education
Psychology, 97(4), 601-616. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.97.4.601
Rojas, V .P. (2007). Strategies for success with English language learners. Alexandria, Virginia:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Toohey, K. (2007). English language learners and literacy assessment. The Canadian Modern
Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 64(2), 253–272.
Walter, C. (2008). Phonology in second language reading: Not an optional extra. TESOL
Quarterly, 42(3), 455-474. Retrieved from http://www.ingentaconnect.com
West, G. I. (2005). Success with struggling readers: The benchmark school approach. New York:
Guilford Press
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