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ESL Glossary

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This theory describes the two ways that language is internalized: "picked up" or acquired subconsciously like we develop our first language and "studied" by formally learning the rules in which case language becomes the object of study. Krashen says "acquisition is where the action is!" Acquisition-based instruction drives the state-of-the-art curriculum for second language teaching today.

This is a process by which students develop both fluency and proficiency in a second language while continuing to develop proficiency in their first. The process involves adding a second language, not replacing the first language with the second language (which is known as subtractive bilingualism).

This is an imaginary screen (filter) that blocks the input if it is "up" and allows the input to get in if it is "down." The lower the anxiety level, the lower the filter. Keep the anxiety level low--remember, comfort is key in second language learning! Lower the filter by lowering the anxiety, raising the self-esteem, and motivating the student to learn. Too much anxiety can impede language acquisition. Stephen Krashen says keep it low by focusing on communication (meaning and content) rather than language form and grammatical accuracy.

Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives

This is a second language teaching methodology that focuses on practicing drills and memorizing dialogues. Often implemented in a language lab, this "drill and kill" method consists of repetition, positive reinforcement for correct repetition, and explicit error correction. It emphasizes practicing language patterns and perfect pronunciation. It is based on B.F. Skinner's behavioral psychology or conditioned response and structural linguistics. This is a discredited approach and stands in direct contrast to communicative language teaching.

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills is the kind of language used in face-to-face communication. It is language needed for social interaction. This is sometimes called playground language, everyday language, social language, or surface fluency. It is the language of everyday communicative contexts, e.g., "What did you eat for dinner?" The problem lies in the misconception of good control over the surface features of language being an indication of proficiency in all contexts, including school-based, academic language.

This is an instructional approach in which two languages are used as a medium of instruction. English Learners are able to learn intellectually demanding, abstract subject matter in an immediately understandable and accessible manner. Concurrently, they are developing English language skills in an effort to achieve high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy. There are various kinds of transitional bilingual programs such as “quick-exit” and “late-exit” as well as maintenance bilingual programs such as dual or two-way immersion. According to current theory and research, only late-exit and immersion result in the development of high academic achievement for language minority students.

This is a construct posited by Jim Cummins which reflects the intent of the LEP student to reject the culture of the first language and have a sense of confusion about the second language and culture. Quality bilingual programs result in positive cultural identity.

The term Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency or CALP describes the kind of language needed to learn new information, think in more abstract ways, and carry out more "cognitively" demanding communicative tasks required by the core curriculum. Referred to as school language, academic language, or the language of academic decontextualized situations. This dimension of language is transferable across languages.

This adult, second language teaching method is a communicative approach for language teaching based on group counseling. It includes a supportive environment in which the teacher acts as a counselor or facilitator. There are no books, but it is truly student-centered as the students decide what to talk about and the teacher translates their thoughts into the target language. It is audio or video-taped so the students can later analyze the tapes as the basis for literacy and further language development.

Comprehensible input refers to a range of strategies that speakers and writers can use to assist comprehension by listeners and readers, especially ones who are second language learners. Input is made comprehensible for example by context, pictures, gestures, lexical choice, speech modification, and building on prior knowledge. Several SDAIE (specially designed academic instruction in English) methodologies, such as Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) and Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) include inventories of specific strategies that teachers learn to use to make instruction comprehensible to ELLs. Stephen Krashen claims we acquire language best when we understand messages or when the input we get is "comprehensible."

Instructional materials focused on academic content areas for English language learners.

Language that is supported by contextual clues in the environment such as objects, props, manipulatives, pictures, graphs, charts and so forth help the second language learner make meaning from the spoken or written world. Context-embedded language is also a result of students interacting with each other to get interpersonal clues to further construct meaning. A "here and now" context is a necessary ingredient if the input is going to be comprehensible.

This kind of language is decontextualized. There are few if any clues present to support the spoken or written words to help make the language comprehensible. Context-reduced language is often abstract and the context is usually known only to the author. Examples include many textbooks, academic lectures, and formal tests.

This is the rationale for schooling language minority students today. This theoretical framework for bilingual education is an empirically based model, which guides us in forming a sound instructional program for language minority students. This model rests on five principles and describes how community background and student input factors interact with instructional treatments to contribute to the three desired goals: learn English, learn, and develop a positive self-image in a multicultural society.

CUP stands for the Common Underlying Proficiency model of bilingualism posited by Jim Cummins. It proposes that bilingual individuals, although they have two language codes at their disposal, only have one common set of proficiencies that involve more cognitively demanding tasks (such as literacy, content learning, abstract thinking and problem-solving). Cummins uses the metaphor of a dual iceberg to illustrate the model. The two visible peaks of the dual iceberg represent the bilingual individual’s two languages, whereas the majority of the iceberg under the surface, the CUP, is common to the dual tops. The CUP model is the basis of the hypothesis called the linguistic interdependence hypothesis.

This term describes the careful guidance by the teacher to get students to focus on the process of how they accomplished a learning task. In the "beyond" part of the Into/Through/Beyond lesson, students are encouraged to reflect on their learning and to analyze their own metacognitve processes for completing a task. The purpose of debriefing is to help students develop greater learner autonomy.

Programs that serve both language minority and language majority students concurrently.

English as a Foreign Language

This term is rooted in the notion of critical pedagogy. It refers to a re-organization of roles, responsibilities, and power within the classroom in order to encourage increased student participation, self-direction, and feeling of ownership of one’s own learning. Empowerment is exemplified in an attitude such as, "If I try, I can!" Teachers, through their interactions with students, can empower language minority students.

English for Speakers of Other Languages

The first language (L1) of a child is the mother tongue or the native language. It is the language learned first and usually the home language. The second language, the L2, is the target language or the language learned after the first language is acquired. It may eventually become the student's dominant language, especially if it is the only language he/she is schooled in.

Fluent English Proficient

Spoken or written with ease.

A critical ingredient for communicative language learning according to Michael Long is the need for students to focus on an interesting and meaningful task. Other key elements for task-based instruction include comprehensible input, context, prior knowledge, and negotiation of meaning.

When an error becomes a habit of speech for an EL and the speaker does not get corrective feedback.

This traditional second/foreign language approach teaches the second language through the first language. The emphasis is on learning the language by mastering the grammatical forms of the second language through vocabulary study, practice exercises, and translation activities.

This instructional program has its genesis in Canada with the French immersion programs for "majority language" students. Students are taught in (through) their second language and acquire a "minority language" at no expense to their first language. The goal of these programs is to develop proficient bilingualism. The U.S. replication of this model is found in "two-way or dual immersion" programs in which half of the class of English speakers add a minority or second language and the LEP students continue to develop full primary language proficiency while acquiring English proficiency as well.

This lesson plan format is particularly effective for LEP students because the lessons build on students' prior knowledge, cultural backgrounds, experiences, insights, and perceptions. It also enables students to apply the new knowledge to their own lives and to think in divergent ways about their new learnings.

This hypothesis claims we acquire language when we understand it. Stephen Krashen states we acquire language when we understand what is said or read, not how it is said or read. Therefore, speech is seen as a result of language acquisition, not its cause. Thus, when students talk, it is testimony to language acquisition having already occurred. Methods such as Total Physical Response and the Natural Approach, which do not force production and emphasize comprehension over speech production, are rooted in this hypothesis.

A language proficiency test measures student ability in a language that they are learning relation to an established measurement scale. The term is usually used in contrast to achievement tests. Achievement tests measure student achievement in relation to a specific learning program. Language proficiency tests, in contrast, measure student ability in relation to a definition of proficiency independently of how the student has learned or acquired the language. Theorists and practitioners differ in terms of how language proficiency is defined, and as a result, different organizations and different tests classify and report proficiency differently. Some tests report proficiency in three categories, others may define four, five, six, or more levels. A comprehensive language proficiency test should include evaluation of both oral and written skills, and both comprehension and production skills.

The IPT family of tests includes oral language proficiency instruments in English and Spanish, for students in Pre-K through grade 12. It also includes reading and writing proficiency instruments in English and Spanish for students in grades 2-12. The results from the IPT family of tests are reported as one of three designation categories (Non-, Limited, and Fluent/Competent) and as one of five proficiency levels (Beginner, Early Intermediate, Intermediate, Early Advanced, Advanced).

Level I
STAGE 1/Pre-Production:
This stage of language acquisition is also called the silent period. The student is a listener and responses are non-verbal such as performing actions, gesturing, nodding, shaking head, touching, pointing, and drawing. Students are not expected to talk at this stage. TPR is effective as a teaching strategy for this stage.

STAGE 2/Early Production:
This stage of language acquisition resembles "telegraphese" because the student will respond with key words only. Even though the student exhibits disconnected speech, it is valuable to expand on those utterances and model language naturally. Teaching strategies consist of extending listening skills and asking questions that will elicit yes/no, choice, one or two-word responses, or even sentence completion.

Level II
STAGE 3/Speech Emergence:
At this stage, the student begins to generate complete sentences. Grammatical errors should be overlooked, but the student should continue to hear lots of meaningful input in order to develop and extend vocabulary. Opportunities for students to interact and negotiate for meaning are critical for language acquisition at this stage.

Level III
STAGE 4/Intermediate Fluency:
Although the Natural Approach does not identify this stage per se, most practitioners view this stage as naturally following stage III when students begin to produce more complex discourse and think both critically and creatively in English. Errors will be fewer and instruction in grammar is now appropriate if done in a meaningful context. This stage bridges fluency and proficiency.

This is a level of bilingualism in which students acquire basic everyday conversational skills in both languages but do not attain native-like proficiency in either.

This is the label commonly used to describe students who have a native language other than English and who are in the process of acquiring English as a second language. More recently the term "English Learners" has been promoted in California by the State Department's Office of Bilingual Education.

This hypothesis made by Jim Cummins is represented as a "dual-iceberg" and posits that every language contains surface features; however, underlying those surface manifestations of language are proficiencies that are common across languages. The dimension of language used in more cognitively demanding tasks that involve more complex language is CALP, which is transferable across languages.

This hypothesis explains the relationship between acquisition and learning, claiming that acquisition leads to fluency and accuracy while learning results in the development of an internal editor or "monitor" that self-corrects as one uses language. When an individual "learns" a language, he/she knows the rules, but the monitor impedes the flow of language because the speaker is too busy thinking of how to say what they want to say--the result is silence!

This second language "acquisition-based" method focuses on authentic communication as its primary goal. It is characterized as a low-anxiety approach because the focus is on meaning rather than form. Speech is not forced with this method, but is allowed to emerge naturally. The natural approach is the application of "Mama's" method to second language teaching. It is guided by the following principles: comprehension precedes production; production emerges in stages; curriculum consists of communicative goals; and activities that are task-based strive to lower student anxiety. The Natural Approach was embraced by ESL/ELD practitioners and curriculum through the 80’s and 90’s until a more balanced approach, combining explicit instruction with meaningful language, emerged at the turn of the millennium to the present.

This hypothesis claims that second language learners acquire the grammatical features of a second language in a predictable order. However, we cannot teach to that order because our L2 learners will acquire those features when they are "ready to get them." Embedded in the input, according to Stephen Krashen, are all of the grammar forms the second language learner needs. Therefore, theory and research tell us not to bother teaching to the order.

This is a level of bilingualism in which the student attains social and academic skills in one language, but achieves only fluency or conversational language skills in the other.

The art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods.

This technique used in mainstream and bilingual classrooms previews the lesson for the LEP students to give them advanced prior knowledge about the forthcoming lesson to be presented to the whole class. This "preview" will lower the anxiety and give the second language learner a context for the future lesson.

A significant indicator of academic success for language minority students is to build on the background experiences they already have. The ability of a student to make sense out of the input received in a second language is largely due to the experiences and knowledge they have acquired through the first language.

The goal for schooling language minority students is the development of the full range of proficiency in both languages. Research confirms that the level of bilingualism in which students attain full proficiency in both languages is positively correlated with high academic achievement.

Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English is a programmatic requirement for all LEP students. It is a process or a way of organizing the learning environment to allow students who are in the process of developing English proficiency to access grade-level content while simultaneously developing academic English language skills. It is not an alternative to primary language instruction, but a complement to it. The caveat in this approach is that a student gets out of it what he/she brings to the lesson in terms of prior knowledge about the grade level topics.

Structured English Immersion

Sheltered instruction is a term that describes an approach to teaching mainstream content to second language learners who are at Stage III or IV of language acquisition or have intermediate levels of proficiency in English, and have some literacy skills in either English or their primary language. Sheltered instruction focuses on grade-level curricula, uses English as the medium of instruction, and employs many techniques (e.g., contextual clues, scaffolding, cooperative learning, advance organizers) to help second language students access the core curriculum. Some educators became concerned that what was being called sheltered instruction was more like content-based ESL, where the focus is more on language than content. In response to this concern, they introduced a new term, SDAIE, which stands for Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English, to reinforce and reassert the emphasis on grade-level instruction for second language students. In both SDAIE and sheltered instruction, the content is not watered down, and students access demanding academic concepts through contextual clues and multisensory techniques. Until there is a general consensus on the most acceptable term to describe the core principles of SDAIE and sheltered instruction, it may make sense for educators to focus on the quality of the materials that claim either label.
There are six key questions to consider in evaluating whether sheltered or SDAIE materials are appropriate for your second language students:
  1. Is the content rigorous and commensurate with mainstream, grade-level texts?
  2. Is the language of the text linguistically challenging, using rich and varied vocabulary and syntax?
  3. Does the instruction employ contextual clues (e.g., visuals, realia) and multisensory techniques (e.g., audio-visual, hands-on materials) to make the content comprehensible?
  4. Does the content build on students' prior knowledge and experiences and advance their literacy skills?
  5. Does the content promote higher order cognitive skills (e.g., problem solving, synthesizing, evaluating)?
  6. Is there a range of ongoing assessment tools and checks to evaluate student progress?
If the answers to all these questions are "yes," chances are that the educational materials, regardless of the label, are suitable for LEP students learning grade-level curriculum.

Ballard & Tighe offers what teachers call the best sheltered/SDAIE social studies programs available: Explore America, Explore the Ancient World, Explore World History, and Explore the United States.

This is a second language teaching approach developed in the mideastern part of the world. This method utilizes colored charts and Cuisiniere rods to develop language. Although it is student-centered, it is nevertheless a grammar-oriented method.

This teaching method was developed in Bulgaria and uses relaxation techniques such as yoga exercises, classical music, soft lighting, and dramatization to help promote learning and enhance retention. It emphasizes the significance of the "affective" in learning.

The traditional view of the bilingual brain is conceptualized as a Separate Underlying Proficiency or the "two balloon theory" that argues that languages, L1 and L2, are separate and independent from one another. This would imply that there is little if any transfer from one language to another. Hence, investing time in developing primary language will only retard or delay English acquisition. There is not a thread of evidence to support this claim.

This is a method developed by Michael Long to promote student-centered instruction and increase student talk in the ELD classroom. His notion of "informational equality" (where each student has a critical piece of the information that must be shared to complete a task) ensures the positive interdependence and negotiation for meaning that are crucial to language acquisition. This approach gives new definition to Sheltered Instruction (SDAIE), which is task-based content teaching.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages or Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages

Recently, this hypothesis proposed by Jim Cummins is called the additive bilingualism enrichment principle. It explains the relationship between bilingualism and cognition, supporting the notion that individuals with high levels of proficiency in both language experience cognitive advantages in terms of linguistic and cognitive flexibility while low levels of proficiency in both languages result in cognitive deficits. This hypothesis further describes the three types of bilinguals (Proficient, Partial, and Limited) and two distinct processes of bilingualism as additive bilingualism and subtractive bilingualism.

Generally labeled TPR, this approach was pioneered by James Asher and involves the skillful use of the command system of language by the teacher to develop receptive language. Students respond physically rather than verbally and speech emerges naturally as students begin to give those commands to other students. This empirically sound method has 30 years of research to support its effectiveness as a low-stress, high retention second language approach.

For more information, see "TPR and Education: A Conversation with Dr. James J. Asher" in IDEAS for Excellence: The Online Publication for English Language Educators.

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