Standards for Teaching Elementary ESL

Standards for Teaching Elementary ESL
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Standards for teaching elementary ESL (English as a Second Language) are designed to create ESL programs that help non-native speakers be literate participants in society. As the students progress, they should become more comfortable with the language. This is demonstrated through reading comprehension, spoken fluency and effective writing. By becoming proficient with the English language, students will be able to explore and articulate complex issues in their educational, occupational and personal endeavors.

ESL Concentration Areas

In the elementary grades, ESL is usually taught along three parallel and related paths:

  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

In the high school grades, analysis is added to reading and research is taught as a fourth path. The goal is a comprehensive instructional program that builds upon each student's successes.

Speaking Skills

These skills encompass speaking and listening. Understanding spoken English and being able to speak clearly are important skills which need to be practiced constantly.

  • Initially, students learn to participate in class with formal and informal daily opportunities to practice these skills.
  • As the students progress, they will learn to prepare presentations and deliver them to the class. They will also learn to critique these presentations.

Reading Skills

All reading requires a basis in phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

  • Students study word structure and language to increase their comprehension.
  • Students move from basic phonics and word formation to comprehension and analysis.
  • As with oral language learning, daily practice opportunities are necessary to maintain and develop the skill.

It is also necessary to develop an appreciation for reading. By making this appreciation part of the learning experience, the student's reading skills will be more fully engaged as they discover their ability to read in English.

Writing Skills

Skill in writing begins, at its most basic level, with letter formation and learning how to use letters to represent speech sounds. Throughout their grade school days, from kindergarten through senior year in high school, the structure of English and the writing process is given greater and greater emphasis. The writing of the students is improved through frequent opportunities to practice narrative, persuasive and expository writing, and to develop and perfect technical skills.

Research Skills

Basic research skills are developed throughout the elementary and high school years. In the elementary grades, it is part of the reading and writing tracks. However, it is only in the high school years - grades nine through twelve - that research becomes its own track.

The goal is for students to learn how to gather information from various sources to be used in planning, developing and presenting class projects and reports.

Computer Use

Computer technology has enhanced the student learning experience by providing quick and easy data access, retrieval, and processing in support of the student's reading, writing and research efforts.

Word processing programs come with features that permit students to check spelling and grammar. They can also check style and keep track of revisions.

However, the use of these word processing programs cannot be recommended. Spell check will not reveal a word that is spelled correctly, but used incorrectly, and grammar check is far from flawless. It is far preferable that those students know how to spell and write grammatical sentences for themselves and not rely on the computer.

Need to Integrate Teaching Paths

These concentration areas are basic paths for teaching elementary ESL. Each is usually taught separately; however, they also need to be fully integrated in the classroom so that students can learn and internalize these new skills. This will help the students make real connections between what they learn and the other areas of their lives. This connection is necessary in order for their proficiency in English to enable students to deal with issues that arise in their educational, occupational and personal lives.