Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education: Preparing Classroom Teachers to Teach English Language Learners

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361Linguistically Responsive Teacher EducationPreparing Classroom Teachers to Teach English Language LearnersTamara LucasAna Mara VillegasMargaret Freedson-GonzalezMontclair State UniversityStudents who speak languages other than English are a growing presence in U.S. schools. As a result, many mainstreamclassroom teachers are finding that they have English language learners in their classes. Unfortunately, most mainstreamclassroom teachers have had little or no preparation for providing the types of assistance that such learners need tosuccessfully learn academic content and skills through English while developing proficiency in English. In this article, theauthors identify a small set of principles that can serve as the linguistic foundation for the teaching of English languagelearners in mainstream classes. The authors then outline linguistically responsive pedagogical practices that flow directlyfrom those principles. They conclude with concrete suggestions for how teacher education programs can incorporate theknowledge and skills that will prepare all preservice teachers to be linguistically responsive.Keywords: English language learners; linguistic diversity; teacher educationAcross the United Statesin small Midwesterntowns and rural areas, in the Southeast, as well as incoastal metropolitan areasclassroom teachers areincreasingly seeing English language learners (ELLs)1 intheir classes. In 2003, 18.7% of 5- to 17-year-olds in thiscountry spoke a language other than English, up from8.5% in 1979 (National Center for Educational Statistics,2005). Between 1990 and 2000, the enrollment ofstudents with limited proficiency in English increased by105%, compared to a much lower 12% overall enroll-ment gain (Kindler, 2002). Whereas some of thesestudents are able to participate in mainstream classes,many face a daunting challenge in learning academiccontent and skills through English while still developingproficiency in English. Yet, most mainstream classroomteachers are not sufficiently prepared to provide the typesof assistance that ELLs need to successfully meet thischallenge. At present, the majority of teachers have hadlittle or no professional development for teaching ELLs(National Center for Educational Statistics, 2002); fewhave taken a course focused on issues related to ELLs(Menken & Antunez, 2001); and most do not have theexperiential knowledge that comes from being proficientin a second language (Zehler et al., 2003). It is not sur-prising, then, that the majority of teachers report thatthey do not feel prepared to teach ELLs (National Centerfor Educational Statistics, 1999).In response to the growing presence of ELLs inpreK12 schools, a number of recent articles and bookshave examined ways to adapt mainstream teacher educa-tion to prepare all teachers to teach ELLs (e.g., Brisk,2007; Valds, Bunch, Snow, & Lee, 2005). Consistingprimarily of program descriptions, small-scale qualita-tive studies, and program evaluations, this literaturehighlights approaches being used by teacher educators toprepare all teachers to teach ELLs, including the additionof a single course or field experience to an existing cur-riculum (e.g., Walker, Ranney, & Fortune, 2005); therevision of one or more existing courses or field experi-ences to incorporate attention to teaching ELLs (e.g.,Friedman, 2002); the addition of a minor or supplemen-tal certificate program to a standard certificate (e.g.,Journal of Teacher EducationVolume 59 Number 4September/October 2008 361-373 2008 Sage Publications10.1177/0022487108322110http://jte.sagepub.comhosted athttp://online.sagepub.comAuthors Note: Address correspondence to Tamara Lucas, 1 NormalAvenue, College of Education and Human Services, Montclair StateUniversity, Montclair, NJ 07043; e-mail: Lucast@mail.montclair.edu. at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/Brisk, Horan, & Macdonald, 2007); innovative programstructures that foster collaboration among mainstream,bilingual and English-as-a-second-language (ESL)teachers, and teacher candidates (e.g., Evans, Arnot-Hopffer, & Jurich, 2005); and professional developmentfor teacher education faculty (e.g., Gort, Glenn, &Settlage, 2007). Most of this literature, however, doesnot attempt to fully articulate the knowledge base incor-porated into the approaches being discussed.A different body of literature has given some attentionover the past 15 years to that knowledge basethat is,what teachers need to know and be able to do to teachELLs (e.g., August & Hakuta, 1997; Wong-Fillmore &Snow, 2005). Unfortunately, this literature has not madeits way into many teacher education programs. One rea-son may be that much of it focuses on the preparation ofspecialists (i.e., ESL, bilingual, or sheltered contentteachers) rather than mainstream teachers. Another rea-son may be that these publications use linguisticapproaches and terminology that can be challenging forthose inexperienced in linguistic analysis. Perhaps mostproblematic, much of this literature seems to suggest theneed for an extensive body of knowledge and skills forteaching ELLs, a daunting task for teacher educatorsgiven the tight constraints on credit hours in the profes-sional education sequence and the increasing demandson the preservice curriculum from state departments ofeducation and accrediting agencies.Despite the promising evidence that some teachereducators are seriously tackling the challenge of prepar-ing all teachers to teach ELLs, most perservice teachereducation programs still have a long way to go to suffi-ciently develop among teacher candidates the necessaryknowledge and skills. Given the growing numbers ofELLs in mainstream classrooms across the country,teacher educators need to act more quickly than theyhave up to now to prepare all future teachers for ELLs.Our intention in this article is to move the field in thatdirection by outlining the special language-relatedknowledge and pedagogical competence that main-stream teachers must have to begin to teach ELLs well.The article is organized into three sections. We begin bydistilling from the literature on second language devel-opment a small set of principles that can serve as the lin-guistic foundation for teaching ELLs in mainstreamclasses. We then outline linguistically responsive peda-gogical practices that flow directly from those principles.In the concluding section, we offer concrete suggestionsfor how teacher education programs can incorporate theknowledge and skills needed for preparing all preserviceteachers to be linguistically responsive.Essential Understandings of SecondLanguage Learning for Teachers of ELLsTo be effective, todays teachers need a broad range ofknowledge and skills, including deep content knowledge,pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of howchildren and adolescents learn in a variety of settings,skills for creating a classroom community that is support-ive of learning for diverse students, knowledge aboutmultiple forms of assessment, and the ability to reflect onpractice (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005). To be successful withELLs, however, teachers need to draw on establishedprinciples of second language learning (Harper & deJong,2004; Samway & McKeon, 2007). Language is themedium through which students gain access to the cur-riculum2 and through which they displayand areassessed forwhat they have learned. To succeed in U.S.schools, students must be able to read academic texts indifferent subject areas, produce written documents in lan-guage appropriate for school (e.g., tests, stories, essays),and understand their teachers and peersall in English.Therefore, language cannot be separated from what istaught and learned in school. Whereas this is true foreveryone, it has special significance for ELLs. Becausethey are learning English while learning the content of thecurriculum, the process of learning English as a secondlanguage is inextricably linked with all their school learn-ing. For that reason, a teacher who has ELLs in his or herclass is best equipped to teach them if he or she hasknowledge of some key principles of second languagelearning. Although the literature on second languagelearning is vast, we have distilled six principles that arehighly relevant to teachers of ELLs. They are listed inTable 1, and we discuss them in turn below.Conversational language proficiency is fundamentallydifferent from academic language proficiency, and ittakes many more years for an ELL to become fluent inthe latter than in the former. The first part of this princi-ple articulates the distinction between what Cummins(1981) originally called basic interpersonal communica-tive skills and cognitive academic language proficiency.(He later used the terms conversational and academiclanguage proficiency [Cummins, 2000].) Some Englishlearners may use their second language fluently ininformal conversations but still experience consider-able academic or literacy-related difficulties in school,because language varies according to the context in whichit is used (Fasold, 1990). In the context of everyday con-versations, speakers derive meaning not only from the362 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/words they hear but also from cues in the setting (e.g.,facial expressions, gestures such as pointing to items inthe environment). Because the content of such conversa-tions is often predictable and focuses on the speakerspersonal experiences (e.g., what someone did over theweekend), it is relatively accessible to ELLs. However,as communication moves further away from the immedi-acy of personal and shared experiencessuch as in aca-demic discourseit increasingly relies on languageitself to convey meaning, thereby becoming more imper-sonal, more technical, and more abstract (Gibbons,2002). The use of written text, which makes meaningincreasingly dependent on language itself, adds anotherlayer of abstraction.Academic language poses special challenges forlearners. In school, learners use language for purposesdifferent from those used in routine conversations. Forexample, they are expected to argue points of view, drawconclusions, and make hypotheses. Each purposedemands the use of specialized vocabulary and particularlanguage forms (e.g., passive voice, a range of connect-ing words; see Schleppegrell, 2004). Because of inex-perience with the linguistic demands of the tasks ofschooling and unfamiliarity with ways of structuring dis-course that are expected in school (Schleppegrell, 2004,p. 16), most students, but especially ELLs, experienceschool language as being more complex and cognitivelydemanding than conversational language.Given all these factors, it is not surprising that ittakes second language learners longer to develop flu-ency in academic English than in conversational English.According to Cummins (2008), second language learnersdevelop conversational proficiency within 2 years of ini-tial exposure to the language, but they need 5 to 7 years todevelop academic language proficiency comparable tothat of a native speaker of the same age. Classroomteachers who know the difference between conversationalproficiency and academic language proficiency are moreapt to understand why they need to provide ELLs in theirclasses with support to successfully complete academictasks, even when the students appear to be fluent speakersof English.Second language learners must have access to com-prehensible input that is just beyond their current level ofcompetence, and they must have opportunities to pro-duce output for meaningful purposes. This second essen-tial understanding highlights the role of linguistic inputand output in second language learning. Krashens inputhypothesis (1982) posits that to learn a second language,learners need to understand the messages being con-veyed to them. A large quantity of input in English willnot foster language learning if the learners cannot com-prehend it. Originally developed to explain languagelearning, this theory has been extended to apply morebroadly to academic learning in a second language (e.g.,Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2000). As discussed, becauseELLs are learning English as a second language whilelearning academic content in English, their languagelearning and academic learning cannot be disentangled.Thus, comprehensible input is just as necessary for suc-cessfully learning biology, history, or mathematics as itis for learning English as a second language.Krashen (1982) argued that to lead to new learning,the input should be not simply comprehensible but justslightly beyond the learners current level of proficiency.In other words, the quality and nature of the inputnotjust the exposureplay a major role in learning a secondlanguage (Wong-Fillmore & Valadez, 1986). Because thelearning of a second language and the learning of contentin that language cannot be separated, pushing learnersbeyond their current knowledge and skill in English isnecessary for pushing them beyond their current knowl-edge of academic content. This essential understandingLucas et al. / Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education 363Table 1Essential Understandings of Second Language Learning for Linguistically Responsive Teachers 1. Conversational language proficiency is fundamentally different from academic language proficiency (Cummins, 1981, 2000), and it can takemany more years for an ELL to become fluent in the latter than in the former (Cummins, 2008).2. Second language learners must have access to comprehensible input that is just beyond their current level of competence (Krashen, 1982,2003), and they must have opportunities to produce output for meaningful purposes (Swain, 1995).3. Social interaction in which ELLs actively participate fosters the development of conversational and academic English (Gass, 1997; Vygotsky,1978; Wong-Fillmore & Snow, 2005).4. ELLs with strong native language skills are more likely to achieve parity with native-English-speaking peers than are those with weaknative-language skills (Cummins, 2000; Thomas & Collier, 2002).5. A safe, welcoming classroom environment with minimal anxiety about performing in a second language is essential for ELLs to learn(Krashen, 2003; Pappamihiel, 2002; Verplaetse & Migliacci, 2008).6. Explicit attention to linguistic form and function is essential to second language learning (Gass, 1997; Schleppegrell, 2004; Swain, 1995).Note: ELL = English language learner. at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/suggests that to make content comprehensible to ELLsand to foster their development of English, mainstreamteachers need to provide students supports for learning. Input, however, is only part of the equation. Languageoutput is also critical for second language learning.Swain (1995) has argued that trying to communicate in asecond language requires a level of engagement with thelanguage different from simply listening and that thisengagement leads to greater fluency. To express them-selves in a second language, learners are pushed toprocess language more deeply (p. 126) than whenencountering input. Doing so raises their awareness ofgaps in their knowledge of the second language and thusgives them the opportunity to reflect on linguistic formin the context of negotiating meaning. Knowledge of thisprinciple will help teachers understand that they do notserve ELLs well by allowing them to be indefinitelysilent. Although ELLs may need time early on to buildsome confidence in speaking their second language anddevelop trust in their peers, they should be encouraged tocultivate their ability in English by using it.Social interaction in which ELLs actively participatefosters the development of conversational and academicEnglish. While the notions of comprehensible input andmeaningful output are grounded in psycholinguistics, afield that focuses primarily on the individual languagelearner, the third essential understanding of second lan-guage learning reflects a sociocultural perspective onlearningspecifically, Vygotskys influential theory(1978) that individual learning originates in social inter-action. From this perspective, interaction provides muchmore than the opportunity for input and output; interac-tion and the accompanying dialogue serve as the founda-tion for the development of thought and language. Thisline of work has led to the view that to learn a secondlanguage, learners need direct and frequent opportunitiesto interact with people who are fluent in that language(Gass, 1997; Wong-Fillmore & Snow, 2005). Throughthe negotiation of meaning that occurs in interaction,ELLs not only gain access to comprehensible input butalso extend their productive capabilities (Ellis, 1985;Swain, 1995).A particularly important element of Vygotskys theoryof learning (1978) is his identification of the zone ofproximal developmentthe metaphorical space in whicha learner can better accomplish tasks with the assistanceof a more capable peer. As the learner becomes knowl-edgeable and skilled, the assistance, or scaffolding, pro-vided by the more experienced or knowledgeable peer (orteacher) is gradually removed until the learner is able tocarry out the activities alone. This finding suggests thatELLs benefit from working with English-proficient andacademically capable peers in groups of different con-figurations on academic tasks that require extensive useof language. As Gibbons (2002) explains, when workingin groups, ELLs are exposed to more language, havemore language directed toward them, and produce morelanguage as they interact with more speakers. Thus,maximizing opportunities for ELLs to use English withpeers who are linguistically and academically knowl-edgeable supports their academic development as well astheir language development.ELL students with strong native language skills aremore likely to achieve parity with native-English-speakingpeers than are those with weak native language skills.Fundamental to teaching ELLs is the understanding thatproficiency in one language is a significant resource forlearning a second language. Strong academic languageskills in the native languageusually, the result offormal schooling in that languageare associated withsuccessful second language learning and academicachievement (Thomas & Collier, 2002). The underlyingprinciple is that language skills developed in ones firstlanguageespecially, literacy skillstransfer to a sec-ond language (Cummins, 2000). For example, if studentsare already literate in Spanish, many of the skills thatthey developed in the process of learning to read andwrite in Spanish will serve them well as they learn toread and write in English (e.g., soundsymbol corre-spondence, strategies for making sense of text).Similarly, students who are academically strong in theirfirst language already have a broad range of subject mat-ter knowledge and skills to draw on while learning in asecond language, thereby easing the burden of having tolearn subject matter and a new language simultaneously.Thus, a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching ELLs isbound to fail because students bring varying linguisticand academic backgrounds to learning. To successfullyscaffold learning for ELLs, classroom teachers mustbecome familiar with the students native-language abilityespecially, their literacy skillsand their academicpreparation in their native language.A safe, welcoming classroom environment with mini-mal anxiety about performing in a second language isessential for ELLs to learn. Learning is enhanced formost students when they are in a safe environment,rather than a threatening one. However, because ELLshave been found to feel stigmatized, anxious, unwel-come, and ignored in U.S. classrooms (see Olsen, 1997;Valds, 2001), teachers of ELLs need to be vigilantabout creating such environments. Attention to this364 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/aspect of the instructional context is warranted given thegrowing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United Statesin recent years.Krashen (1982, 2003) hypothesized an affective filteras part of his theory of second language learning.According to this hypothesis, when a learner feels anx-ious or fears being embarrassed about speaking English,a filter is activated that prevents her or him from makingoptimal use of linguistic input, even when instructionhas been adapted to facilitate meaningful access to con-tent. Pappamihiel (2002) pointed out that not only cananxiety distract second language learners from the lin-guistic input that they encounter, but it can also leadthem to withdraw from social interaction, which is crit-ical to learning English as well as academic content.ELLs may feel anxious in school for a variety of rea-sons, including peer ostracism and harassment, as wellas unfamiliarity with the larger culture, with the peoplein school, and with the institution of schooling in theUnited States. Whatever the potential sources of anxiety,the classroom implications of this essential understand-ing are clear: For optimal learning to occur, teachersmust give conscious thought to providing ELLs a safeand anxiety-free environment.Explicit attention to linguistic form and functionfacilitates second language learning. In the 1970s and1980s, teachers of ESL abandoned the traditionalgrammar-translation method and adopted approachesthat emphasized comprehensible input and communica-tive competence over formal accuracy (see Canale,1983). This emphasis on communicative approaches tolanguage learning and teaching suggested that, like first-language learning, second language learning would hap-pen naturally with exposure to the language. Morerecently, scholars and educators have begun to giverenewed attention to linguistic form, arguing that tobecome proficient, ELLs need to focus on the formalelements of English (Gass, 1997; Schleppegrell, 2004;Swain, 1995)that is, exposure to and interaction inEnglish are not sufficient (Harper & deJong, 2004).Although teachers whose primary responsibility is toteach students subject matter cannot be expected tobecome experts on language, they can learn to identifyand articulate the special characteristics of the languageof their disciplines and make these explicit to their ELLs.For example, because the history curriculum involvesstudents learning about past events, the past tense playsa salient role in history classes. In teaching about theestablishment of missions in the Southwest, a historyteacher could focus the attention of ELLs on the differ-ent meanings and temporal relationships conveyed by thesimple past tense (Spanish priests established missionsfrom South to North along the California coast), pastprogressive (Spanish priests were establishing missionson the California coast for almost 100 years), and pastperfect (By 1823, Spanish priests had established 21missions on the coast of what is now California).Similarly, science teachers can scaffold students sciencereading and writing by explicitly discussing the preva-lence of passive verbs, how they are constructed, and whythey are common in science texts (i.e., to convey objec-tivity, which is a central goal of science, and to focus onthe phenomenon being discussed rather than on a person).The language of each discipline is integral to the contentand purposes of that discipline (Schleppegrell, 2004);thus, students need to understand the ways language isused in the subjects they study in schools.The renewed focus on form in second language teach-ing, however, should not be construed as a plea to returnto grammar-translation classrooms (Gass, 1997, p. 155).Instead, learners attention should be brought to bear onlinguistic forms in the context of purposeful learning(Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 151), not simply in grammarworksheets. In other words, language forms should belearned, not for their own sake, but because they areneeded to fulfill certain functions. The school curriculumprovides a powerful context for purposeful learning. Asthe above examples illustrate, particular language func-tionsand, therefore, particular language formsarecharacteristic of different academic disciplines. The lan-guage of science emphasizes objectivity and procedures;the language of history expresses past events and thetemporal relationships among them; and the language ofmathematics serves to articulate precise relationshipsand procedures involving numbers. In addition, there aregeneral functions of language that apply across academicdisciplines. In school, students are expected, forexample, to use language to argue, to compare and con-trast ideas, to draw inferences and conclusions, and topersuade audiences of the merits of a writers or speakersways of thinking. Each use of language requires speciallinguistic forms that students must learn if they are tomaster these academic skills.As the above discussion suggests, all teachers needbasic knowledge of the forms of English and the differ-ent ways that language is used in schools (i.e., the func-tions of academic language). Such knowledge givesthem important tools for making the disciplines theyteach accessible to their studentsespecially, those whoare learning academic content in a second language.To summarize, in this section we have identified anddiscussed six basic principles of second language learn-ing that all preservice teachers must understand to teachLucas et al. / Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education 365 at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/ELLs in their future classes. Even if the students havereceived bilingual and ESL instruction and even if theyare no longer considered limited-English proficient,they continue to be ELLs. As we have discussed, it takesmuch longer than 2 or 3 years to develop academic lan-guage proficiency comparable to that of grade-levelpeers whose native language is English. Until that profi-ciency is achieved, ELLs continue to need supports formaking sense of what they are taught in English. Theabove principles provide the foundation for linguisticallyresponsive pedagogy, to which we now turn.Linguistically ResponsivePedagogical PracticesArguably, the primary responsibility of mainstreamclassroom teachers, relative to ELLs in their classes, is tofacilitate the students learning of the curriculum. If astudent is developmentally ready to learn the content ofthe curriculum, his or her not being fluent in Englishshould not keep him or her from doing so. Because ittakes several years for ELLs to approach grade-levelnorms in academic English, they would be at an ever-greater disadvantage if their academic learning werepostponed until they could handle, on their own, the lin-guistic demands of content instruction in English.Because English is the language of instruction in U.S.schools and because the English skills of ELLs are notcomparable to those of their grade-level peers, teachersmust adapt instruction to make the content of the schoolcurriculum accessible to them. Instructional adaptationsfor ELLs constitute a case of differentiated instruction,an approach to teaching that takes into account the widevariation in students background knowledge, interests,abilities, and language evident in schools today.Differentiated instruction seeks to maximize eachlearners growth by adjusting instructional tasks toaddress students needs while building on their strengths(Tomlinson, 1999).The instructional adaptations used to make academiccontent understandable to ELLs are frequently referred toin the literature as scaffolds (see Echevarria et al., 2000;Gibbons, 2002). First elaborated by Wood, Bruner, andRoss (1976), scaffolding is the instructional response toVygotskys zone of proximal development (1978), dis-cussed previously. A teacher provides temporary supports(i.e., scaffolding) to help a learner carry out academictasks that she or he could not do alone. The goal is to helpthe learner move toward new skills, concepts, or levels ofunderstanding (Gibbons, 2002, p. 10) so that the supportcan ultimately be removed. Scaffolding is therefore notremedial assistance that simplifies tasks and minimizesthe challenge to the learner. Rather, it is the meansthrough which teachers amplify and enrich the linguis-tic and extralinguistic context of a learning task(Walqui, 2008, p. 107) to make it possible for ELLs tosuccessfully complete it.To scaffold learning for ELLs, mainstream classroomteachers need three types of pedagogical expertise:familiarity with the students linguistic and academicbackgrounds; an understanding of the language demandsinherent in the learning tasks that students are expectedto carry out in class; and skills for using appropriate scaf-folding so that ELLs can participate successfully in thosetasks. Below we discuss these three types of pedagogicalexpertisewhich we consider the essence of linguisti-cally responsive teachingand suggest how teachereducators might help preservice teachers develop suchexpertise. Learning About ELLsMainstream teachers need to learn about the languageand academic backgrounds of the ELLs in their classes.Without this knowledge, teachers cannot anticipate theaspects of learning that are likely to be too difficult fortheir ELLs to handle without instructional supports.Numerous factors affect ELLs success in learning acade-mic content taught in English. Clearly, the students oral,reading, and writing proficiencies in English play a majorrole (Gibbons, 2002). Often overlooked, however, arestudents linguistic and academic competence in the pri-mary language. Linguistic and academic skills that aredeveloped in ones native language can transfer to a secondlanguage and thus serve as rich resources for learning inthat language (Cummins, 2000). Therefore, teachersshould learn about each students primary language andhis or her language and academic background in English.Though ELLs tend to be discussed as if they were ahomogeneous group, they are not. They enter U.S.schools with varying levels of oral proficiency and liter-acy (in both English and their native language) as well asprior knowledge of and experiences with subject matter.For example, some immigrant students begin theirschooling in this country with well-honed literacy andacademic skills in their first language, whereas othersarrive without literacy and with significant academicgaps. U.S.-born ELLs also vary widely in their native-language literacy skills, proficiency in English, andpreparation for school. Those who are literate in the homelanguage can use these resources as a springboard forlearning English and academic content in school, espe-cially when they receive appropriate support for learning.366 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/Others need extensive scaffolding to succeed in main-stream classes and develop English language skills com-parable with those of their native-English-speaking peers.To familiarize themselves with the backgrounds of theELLs in their classes, mainstream teachers can use avariety of strategies, depending on the students ages andtheir English proficiency. For instance, a teacher candirectly ask a student to describe, orally or in writing, hisor her previous experiences in school, or a teacher canask the students parents about those experiences (Lucas,1997). Adults who know the student and are bilingualsuch as classroom aidescan also provide informationabout his or her native-language abilities (Lenski,Ehlers-Zavala, Daniel, & Sun-Irminger, 2006). Teacherscan learn about ELLs oral English proficiency by inter-acting with them one-on-one, listening carefully whenthey interact with others in class (Yedlin, 2007), andobserving their interactions outside class (e.g., in thehallway, cafeteria, playground; Verplaetse, 2008). TheESL teacher can be another source of information aboutstudents proficiency in English, because ELLs are oftendescribed as being more outgoing and interactive in ESLclasses than in regular classes (Verplaetse, 2008).Preservice teacher education programs can engageprospective teachers in various types of activities thatwill prepare them to learn about ELLs in their futureclasses. They can be asked to prepare a report thatdescribes the language and academic background of anELL in a preK12 school. This assignment might involveinterviewing a mainstream classroom teacher to learnabout an ELL in his or her classspecifically, the ELLsoral, reading, and writing proficiency in English and hisor her primary languageand to find out strategies thatthe teacher uses to learn about the backgrounds of ELLs.If the target student also receives ESL instruction, theteacher candidate could ask the ESL teacher similarquestions about the student. A second form of data gath-ering could be to observe the selected student duringinstruction in subject matter classes and in ESL to focuson his or her level of participation in those lessons.Observations could be extended to include activities out-side the classroom for the purpose of documenting thestudents use of English and his or her native language.If possible, the preservice teacher might also speakdirectly with the student about his or her use of Englishand native language in contexts outside school (i.e., withfamily and friends) and inside school (i.e., with teachersand peers). The various sources of information couldthen be used to prepare a linguistic and academic profileof the selected ELL.To help teacher candidates gain insight into the effectsof different linguistic and academic student profiles onthe teaching and learning of subject matter in main-stream classes, the assignment could be structured as acomparative analysis of two ELLs with contrasting pro-files. Teacher candidates could share the results of theirinvestigations with fellow students in the teacher educa-tion program. Working in groups, they could then iden-tify the most promising information-gathering strategiesfrom among those documented. Such a project would goa long way toward helping preservice teachers develop arepertoire of basic strategies for learning about theirfuture ELLs.Identifying the Language DemandsInherent in Classroom TasksScaffolding learning for ELLs requires teachers toconsider the relationship between students linguisticabilities and the tasks through which they are expected tolearn. That is, classroom teachers need to understand notonly the conversational and academic language abilitiesof the student but also the language demands of class-room tasks (Brisk & Zisselsberger, 2007). Before theycan decide whether to scaffold learning tasks for ELLsand how best to do so if scaffolding is required, main-stream classroom teachers must identify aspects of thelanguage inherent in those tasks that are likely to posethe greatest challenge to the students. This involves iden-tifying the key vocabulary that students must understandto have access to curriculum content, understanding thesemantic and syntactic complexity of the language usedin written instructional materials, and knowing the waysin which students are expected to use language to com-plete each learning task. For instance, are studentsrequired to listen to a lecture and take notes from it? Arethey being asked to read expository text and draw con-clusions from the material read? Are those conclusions tobe discussed with other students in small groups orreported in writing to the teacher? If a written report isrequired, what form of text are students expected to pro-duce? Must they summarize their thinking in a para-graph, or may they do it in bullet form? The moredetailed teachers can be in their analysis of the languagedemands built into learning tasks and related writtenmaterials used, the better able they are to identify aspectsof the tasks and written texts that could interfere withELLs understanding.Because language is integral to almost all humanendeavors, the majority of people do not attend to it at all.It is transparent. We look through language rather than atlanguage (deJong & Harper, 2005). However, becauselanguage plays a central role in learning, as we explainedpreviously, it is imperative that teacher educators cultivateLucas et al. / Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education 367 at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/among teacher candidates the willingness and skills forlooking at language, rather than through it. To do so,teacher educators need to help future teachers under-stand that academic learning is inseparable from lan-guage. For example, asking future teachers to envisionthemselves learning some aspect of quantum theory in alanguage they do not understand will help them intu-itively grasp the connection that exists between languageand learning. Introducing teacher candidates toKrashens input theory (1982)that is, to successfullylearn academic content, learners must receive compre-hensible language inputwill remind them that learningcontent is dependent on the quality of language.Studying the construct of academic language (Cummins,2000; Schleppegrell, 2004) would further help teachercandidates understand that to succeed in schools,students must not only have fluency with the language ofinstruction but be skilled at using that language for dif-ferent academic purposes (e.g., to define, summarize,critique). These understandings will move preserviceteachers toward looking at the language of academiclearning rather than simply seeing through it.As implied above, in carrying out such a linguisticanalysis, teachers must identify the key vocabulary andsubject-specific terminology that students need to under-stand. They must also review written texts (textbooks,worksheets, study guides) associated with the variouslearning tasks to determine aspects of the language thatare likely to be problematic for ELLs (e.g., difficultvocabulary, lengthy sentences that are conceptuallypacked, complex language structures, idiomatic expres-sions). They must examine academic tasks, to bereminded of the purposes for which the students areexpected to use language (e.g., to paraphrase a story, todefend a conclusion, to summarize the steps carried outin an experiment) and to anticipate the extent to whichELLs will need explicit instruction in how to carry outthose tasks from beginning to end. Teacher educators canmodel for future teachers how to analyze the languagedemands of a lesson. Then, teacher candidates can prac-tice conducting similar analyses, using instructionalplans designed by others as well as themselves.Scaffolding Learning for ELLsWith a clear sense of the linguistic backgrounds andabilities of the ELLs in their classes and with a detailedunderstanding of the language demands of a lesson orunit, mainstream teachers can be well positioned toscaffold learning for their ELLs. Below, we describe a variety of tools and strategies they can use for thispurpose.Using extra-linguistic supports. When the language ofa lesson is too demanding for ELLs, extra-linguistic sup-ports give them a medium other than language throughwhich to access the content (Echevarria et al., 2000;Gibbons, 2002). For example, visual tools (pictures,illustrations, maps, videos) can quickly convey consider-able information to students, thereby reducing theamount of auditory information that they must process tomake sense of the instructional topic. Graphic organizers(graphs, timelines, Venn diagrams) help students clarifyconcepts, understand causal relationships, and trace thesequence of events by asking them to organize ideasvisually. Making a timeline of a novel, for example, canhelp ELLs understand its plot, as well as the temporalstructure of the text.Supplementing and modifying written text. Thehigher the grade, the more challenging textbooks are forELLs because such books include fewer illustrationsand other visuals and because the language is morecomplex in syntax and vocabulary. Teachers can take anumber of steps to make challenging texts more acces-sible for ELLs. They can develop study guides thatinclude, for example, questions to focus students read-ing, definitions of key vocabulary words, and an outlineof major concepts (Brown, 2007). Teachers can alsoadapt or rewrite text to make the language more acces-sible, taking care not to dumb down the content (Hite &Evans, 2006; Verplaetse & Migliacci, 2008). They canalso reserve several textbooks for ELLs and add notes inthe margins to support their understanding of the con-tent (Hite & Evans, 2006; Verplaetse & Migliacci,2008). Alternatively, they can highlight text to signal tostudents central concepts and the key vocabularyincluded in it.Supplementing and modifying oral language. Severalstrategies can be used to reduce the burden on ELLs ofhaving to process the oral language they hear in classwhile trying to make sense of new concepts. Theseinclude minimizing the use of idiomatic expressions(Hite & Evans, 2006; Yedlin, 2007), pausing more fre-quently and for longer periods than in usual speech (togive ELLs time to process the language they hear;Verplaetse & Migliacci, 2008), providing outlines forlessons (to help focus the students attention), repeatingkey ideas and building redundancy into teaching (toensure that ELLs grasp the main points of a lesson;Gibbons, 2002), and establishing classroom routines thatenable ELLs to predict what is expected of them in dif-ferent situations (Willett, Harman, Hogan, Lozano, &Rubeck, 2007).368 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/Giving clear and explicit instructions. It would be amistake for teachers to introduce a task and assume thatall students, especially ELLs, will know how to carry itout. For example, an ELL who has recently arrived in theUnited States from a country with a highly traditionaleducation system is likely to be at a loss when asked tocollaborate with peers in a classroom activity. To helpELLs maximally benefit from classroom activities,teachers need to provide clear and explicit instructions forhow to get the work done (Gibbons, 2002). Depending onthe task, the teacher may write the instructions on theboard or give them orally, and he or she may ask studentsto take notes and/or to repeat the instructions back to himor her. In some situations, students may need to refer todetailed written instructions as they carry out a task.Whatever method used, teachers must be attentive tousing language that is comprehensible to ELLs.Facilitating and encouraging the use of studentsnative languages. The use of students native languagescan scaffold their learning in English. One such strategyis to ask bilingual students to provide formal and infor-mal assistance to less-English-proficient ELLs in theirfirst language. Having a peer who can translate andexplain content and classroom activities may be the onlyway for a beginner to gain some access to the school cur-riculum (Walqui, 2008). To ensure effective assistanceand to avoid placing too great a burden on the peerteachertranslator, teachers need to think carefully aboutthe nature of the support the student should provide, andthey need to guide that student in determining how tohelp the ELL student (Hite & Evans, 2006). A strategythat can be effective with beginning English learnerswho are literate in their native language is to allow themto write first drafts in that language. After getting theirideas down on paper, they can work on expressing themin English. Teachers can also provide materials in otherlanguages to supplement course materials.Engaging ELLs in purposeful activities in which theyhave many opportunities to interact with others andnegotiate meaning. As discussed previously, social inter-action for authentic communicative purposes in whichELLs are full participants fosters the development ofconversational and academic English (Chamot &OMalley, 1996; Swain, 1995). However, simply puttingstudents into groups and giving them a task is not likelyto foster the learning of content or language. The focusand nature of the interaction are also important. AsTrumbull and Farr (2005) explain, language learnersneed to be put in situations where they have access torich and meaningful input and where they are motivatedto produce output. (p. 124). In such situations, all par-ticipants, including ELLs, should have substantial andequitable opportunities to participate in the interaction(Walqui, 2008, p. 114); the participants should be seek-ing to achieve a purpose that has meaning for them(Chamot & OMalley, 1996); and the interaction shouldinvolve the negotiation of meaning, not carrying out anexercise that requires little thought (Schleppegrell,2004). Verplaeste (2008) advises teachers to increase thenumber of activities in which students work together(e.g., jigsaw activities and study centers focused onactivities through which students rotate within anamount of time). Beyond this, she suggests that teachers(a) modify their talk to ask how and why questions, aswell as questions to which they do not know the answers,(b) respond to student comments in nonevaluative ways,and (c) use instructional conversations in which theteacher acts as a facilitator rather than a questioner. Sheadvises teachers to allow ELLs to use their native lan-guages for problem solving with students who speak thesame language.Minimizing the potential for anxiety associated withbeing an ELL in a mainstream classroom. The learnersaffective state strongly influences his or her learning ingeneral and his or her learning a second language in par-ticular. As discussed above, fear of being harassedbecause of ones accent and errors in speech and writingcan be a source of debilitating anxiety for ELLs in main-stream classrooms. To support ELLs linguistic and cog-nitive growth, teachers must take active measures toprevent such harassment from taking place in class. Theycan do so by establishing and enforcing classroom rulesthat respect all students, minimize competition, andencourage cooperation. They can also give newly arrivedELLs time before requiring them to speak English in theclassroom (Verplaetse & Migliacci, 2008).Prospective teachers need exposure to the above toolsand strategies that scaffold the learning of ELLs, andthey need practice using them. Such teachers can beexposed through class readings and activities, includingcase studies in which scaffolding strategies are used. IfpreK12 classrooms are available in which mainstreamteachers are applying these strategies, then preserviceteachers can be asked to observe such a class, focusingon which strategies are being used and in what ways. Tohelp prospective teachers develop their facility withthese tools and strategies, they can be given descriptionsof several ELLs with different language and academicbackgrounds and then asked to design lessons or instruc-tional units (or adapt lessons or units that they havealready developed) as if they had those ELLs in theirLucas et al. / Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education 369 at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/classes. Although teachers can become skilled at scaf-folding instruction only by doing it in real classrooms,preservice teacher education can lay the foundation forlater practice.Making it HappenSo far in this article, we have distilled a small set ofunderstandings and practices that need to be incorpo-rated into preservice teacher education programs to pro-vide all new teachers with a beginning repertoire forteaching the ELLs whom they are increasingly likely tohave in their classes. We have elaborated on six essentialunderstandings of second language learning and threetypes of pedagogical expertise that we think character-izes linguistically responsive teaching in mainstreamclassrooms. We now turn to the question of how best toincorporate this set of specialized knowledge and skillsinto the teacher education curriculum without radicallyaltering existing programs. Below we offer concrete sug-gestions to make this reform happen. Our proposal isinformed by a slim but fast-growing body of literaturethat features promising approaches to preparing futureteachers to teach ELLsapproaches currently in use ina relatively small number of teacher education programs(for a review, see Lucas & Grinberg, 2008). It is also pur-posefully attentive to the real constraints on teacher edu-cation programs.First, we suggest that a separate course be added to theteacher education curriculumnamely, one devoted toteaching ELLs and one that all preservice teachers arerequired to take. Although most teacher education pro-grams will have difficulties acting on this suggestion, wesee no way around the addition of a course. Given thelack of experience with the education of ELLs by mostteacher educators and the time that it takes to build sub-stantial knowledge among them, it would be irresponsi-ble to rely on an infusion strategy that requiresdistributing specialized knowledge and practices forELL education across the faculty. Although such infu-sion could be a long-term goal, we do not see it as aviable option at present. The new course should addressthe essential language-related understandings for teach-ing ELLs and the pedagogical practices that flow fromthem. It should be taught by a faculty member in the pro-gram who has the required expertise or by someonerecruited for that purpose.The added class could be as brief as a one- or two-credit module, or it might entail a three-credit course. Amodule would be appropriate for programs with an exist-ing diversity-related course that all teacher candidatesmust take. The pedagogical portion of the specializedpreparation for teaching ELLs could be integrated intothe diversity course, and the essential language-relatedprinciples could be assigned to the module. When con-sidering this option, it is imperative to keep in mind thatfaculty who currently teach diversity courses might lackthe expertise needed to teach preservice teachers to belinguistically responsive. Without professional develop-ment support for those lacking this expertise, issues oflanguage are likely to get lost within diversity courses inthe larger fabric of culturally responsive teaching (Lucas& Grinberg, 2008).If attention to differentiated instruction has beeninfused into selected courses in the professional educa-tion sequence, then we recommend that teacher candi-dates be given practice adapting instruction for ELLs inthose courses, as part of their preparation for differenti-ated instruction. This practice would reinforce andextend what they have learned about linguisticallyresponsive teaching in the introductory module or courseon this topic. To successfully carry out this recommen-dation, the faculty members responsible for teaching dif-ferentiated instruction are likely to need someprofessional development support to hone their expertisewith linguistically responsive teaching.Teacher education programs can also prepare prospec-tive teachers to teach ELLs by requiring them to spendtime in schools and classrooms where they will havecontact with ELLs during fieldwork courses and field-work requirements in regular courses. Without such con-tact, ELLs will remain an abstraction, defined by theirlack of proficiency in English and likely to be perceivedthrough prevalent media stereotypes of immigrants.Direct contact allows future teachers to see ELLs as indi-viduals, and it gives the teachers-to-be a sense of thediversity among ELLsdiversity of languages, cultures,native countries, personalities, and academic back-grounds and abilities. Spending time in a school contextis also essential to help future teachers envision how theymight apply what they are learning about linguisticallyresponsive teaching in their preservice courses.Finally, underlying the recommendations above is thepressing need for professional development for teachereducators. As those who teach future teachers, we needto develop our knowledge and skills related to the edu-cation of ELLs through professional development beforewe can make other needed changes in the curriculum andin our pedagogy. We need to be fully aware of theurgency of preparing all teachers to teach ELLsand,consequently, of the need to change business as usualin teacher education. This awareness is the first steptoward changing the curriculum and seeking to learnhow to contribute to the preparation of all teachers to370 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/teach ELLs. Through professional development, we canlearn about resources to which we can direct futureteachers for information on teaching ELLs, and perhapsmost important, we can develop our understandingsabout the education of ELLs. With this information andthese resources, we can begin to give more attention toELLs in all our courses. In designing such professionaldevelopment, we can draw on examples of teacher-education learning communities through which teachereducators are already working together, formally andinformally, to develop their ability for preparing linguis-tically responsive teachers (see Costa, McPhail, Smith,& Brisk, 2005; Gort et al., 2007).Given the increasing number of students in main-stream classes who speak native languages other thanEnglish, teacher education programs need to prepareteachers to teach ELLs. Far too many new teachers findthemselves unprepared to meet the special challenges ofteaching academic content to ELLs. In 2002, theAmerican Association of Colleges for Teacher Educationissued a call to action to teacher education institutions,indicating that they should prepare teachers who can pro-vide an equitable education for students whose primarylanguage is not English (p. 6). Although some teachereducation programs have taken up that call, far too manyare still on the sidelines. We have offered some ideas tothose who want to participate in the action.Notes1. We use the term English language learners to refer to those whospeak native languages other than English. Although such learners areat different levels of proficiency in English, we are concerned withthose who have not yet developed the degree of proficiency in acade-mic English that is expected of students at their grade level. 2. 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Cambridge, UK: CambridgeUniversity Press.Walker, C. L., Ranney, S., & Fortune, T. W. (2005). Preparing preser-vice teachers for English language learners: A content-basedapproach. In D. J. Tedick (Ed.), Second language teacher educa-tion, international perspectives (pp. 313-333). Mahwah, NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum.Walqui, A. (2008). The development of teacher expertise to work withadolescent English learners: A model and a few priorities. In L. S.Verplaetse & N. Migliacci (Eds.), Inclusive pedagogy for Englishlanguage learners: A handbook of research-informed practices(pp. 103-125). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Willett, J., Harman, R., Hogan, A., Lozano, M. E., & Rubeck, J.(2007). Transforming standard practice to serve the social andacademic learning of English language learners. In L. S. Verplaetse& N. Migliacci (Eds.). Inclusive pedagogy for English languagelearners: A handbook of research-informed practices (pp. 33-53).New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Wong-Fillmore, L., & Snow, C. (2005). What teachers need to knowabout language. In C. T. Adger, C. E. Snow, & D. Christian (Eds.),What teachers need to know about language (pp. 7-54).Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.Wong-Fillmore, L., & Valadez, C. (1986). Teaching bilingual learn-ers. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching(3rd ed., pp. 648-685) New York: Macmillan.Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in prob-lem solving. Journal of Child Psychology, 17, 89-100.372 Journal of Teacher Education at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/Yedlin, J. (2007). Pedagogical thinking and teacher talk in a first-gradeELL classoom. In L. S. Verplaetse & N. Migliacci (Eds.), Inclusivepedagogy for English language learners: A handbook of research-informed practices (pp. 55-77). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Zehler, A. M., Fleischman, H. L., Hopstock, P. J., Stephenson, T. G.,Pendzick, M. L., & Sapru, S. (2003). Descriptive study of servicesto LEP students and LEP students with disabilities. Policy report:Summary of findings related to LEP and SPED-LEP students.Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Tamara Lucas, PhD, is a professor in educational foundationsand associate dean in the College of Education and HumanServices at Montclair State University. Her research exploresthe education of culturally and linguistically diverse studentsand the preparation of their teachers. She is author ofResponding to the Linguistic Reality of the MainstreamClassroom: Preparing Classroom Teachers to Teach EnglishLanguage Learners (with Jaime Grinberg), in The Handbookof Research in Teacher Education: Enduring Issues inChanging Contexts (2008).Ana Mara Villegas, PhD, is a professor in the Curriculumand Teaching Department at Montclair State University. Herresearch and publications focus on culturally responsive teach-ing and on increasing the diversity of the teaching force. Sheis editor of the Diversity and Teacher Education section in TheHandbook of Research in Teacher Education: Enduring Issuesin Changing Contexts (2008).Margaret Freedson-Gonzalez, EdD, is an assistant professorin the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, andLiteracy Education at Montclair State University. Her researchand writing focus on bilingual literacy development, instruc-tional practice, and the preparation of early childhood teachersto serve English language learners.Lucas et al. / Linguistically Responsive Teacher Education 373 at TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY on December 18, 2014jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from http://jte.sagepub.com/ /ColorImageDict > /JPEG2000ColorACSImageDict > /JPEG2000ColorImageDict > /AntiAliasGrayImages false /CropGrayImages true /GrayImageMinResolution 150 /GrayImageMinResolutionPolicy /OK /DownsampleGrayImages true /GrayImageDownsampleType /Bicubic /GrayImageResolution 300 /GrayImageDepth -1 /GrayImageMinDownsampleDepth 2 /GrayImageDownsampleThreshold 1.50000 /EncodeGrayImages true /GrayImageFilter /DCTEncode /AutoFilterGrayImages true /GrayImageAutoFilterStrategy /JPEG /GrayACSImageDict > /GrayImageDict > /JPEG2000GrayACSImageDict > /JPEG2000GrayImageDict > /AntiAliasMonoImages false /CropMonoImages true /MonoImageMinResolution 1200 /MonoImageMinResolutionPolicy /OK /DownsampleMonoImages true /MonoImageDownsampleType /Bicubic /MonoImageResolution 1200 /MonoImageDepth -1 /MonoImageDownsampleThreshold 1.50000 /EncodeMonoImages true /MonoImageFilter /CCITTFaxEncode /MonoImageDict > /AllowPSXObjects false /CheckCompliance [ /None ] /PDFX1aCheck false /PDFX3Check false /PDFXCompliantPDFOnly false /PDFXNoTrimBoxError true /PDFXTrimBoxToMediaBoxOffset [ 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 ] /PDFXSetBleedBoxToMediaBox false /PDFXBleedBoxToTrimBoxOffset [ 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 0.00000 ] /PDFXOutputIntentProfile (U.S. Web Coated \050SWOP\051 v2) /PDFXOutputConditionIdentifier () /PDFXOutputCondition () /PDFXRegistryName (http://www.color.org) /PDFXTrapped /Unknown /CreateJDFFile false /SyntheticBoldness 1.000000 /Description >>> setdistillerparams> setpagedevice

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