ELL Definitions

Words to Know for ELL Instruction

Acculturation– There are four stages that a student goes through when he/she transitions and seeks to adjust to an unfamiliar environment. Law and Eckes describe four stages: Honeymoon, Hostility, Humor, and Home. In the honeymoon stage a person is ecstatic about life in the new surroundings. In many instances, refugees experience this stage when they immigrate to the United States. The hostility stage occurs when reality sets in about the differences between their native homeland is this new place. Law and Eckes term the third stage humor when an immigrant begins to accept the new environment and works toward resolving the issues they have between their old life and the new one. The final stage is when a newcomer gains a sense of permanency about the new environment. A student’s progression through these stages will vary tremendously and can be influenced by factors such as the circumstances of immigration, the age of the student, language experience, and disposition.

Affective Filter

BICS– Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills-These are the basic communication skills necessary in informal communications. Here vocabulary and syntax are less important than in formal written English. BICS is listening, speaking, and conversing with others. It is the language of informal communication.

CALP– Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency-These are the academic skills that a student needs to be successful in the classroom setting. CALP includes problem solving, analysis, inferencing, and predicting, skills that require more understanding of English than BICS.

ELD-Addresses English language development in the areas of listening and speaking, reading, and writing.

  • Reading standards: Word analysis, fluency and systematic vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and literary response & analysis.
  • Writing standards: Writing strategies, writing applications, and conventions.
  • Listening and speaking: Listening and speaking strategies and applications.

The standards are divided into four grade spans which are k-2 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 rather than at specific grade levels. Each strand is gauged on the same five level proficiency scale which is as follows: Beginning, Early Intermediate, Intermediate, Early Advanced, and Advanced. At each of the five levels there is an exit score that is the minimum for a student to achieve to be classified in that particular checkpoint. The goal is for students to ultimately reach fluency level and be reclassified as fluent English speakers.

Click here for ELD Lesson Plans

L1– A person’s native language, that being the one that a person acquires first. L1 typically serves as a framework for people to understand how language works.

L2- The second language that a person learns. For ESL students, this will typically be English. In many instances, the conventions of L1 may interfere with a person’s ability to learn L2 and gain fluency or mastery.

LEA- Language Experience Approach. This approach is student centered in that the experiences of the class, or the student, are used as the framework for language development. In a whole class setting, LEA can be extremely useful after class field trips and other shared experiences to give the students a chance to reflect on what they learned and develop their language skills simultaneously. A teacher uses these experience as a springboard for oral and written activities. The students dictate the content, grammar, and vocabulary of these stories to the teacher who uses them.

Morphology– The specific grammatical endings, vocabulary and units of meaning in a language.

Phonics– Identifying words by their sounds

Phonology– The specific sound system of a language. In English a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in the language and thus when students encounter a phoneme that is similar to one in their native language, they may use this as a cue to pronounce a word. For example, for a native Spanish speaker, the word “quest” might be pronounced as “kest” because of the way the blend “que” is pronounced in Spanish. Similarly, the “ll” sound in Spanish creates the effect of what the letter “y” does in English. Therefore the word “yellow” might be pronounced “yeyo.”

Scaffolding- A scaffold gives students the form, a support structure, for them to use to help them work. In poetry, using a haiku model is a scaffold because it helps center the student and lets them focus on constructing their work. In journal writing, often teachers help get a child started by beginning the sentence for them. For example: When I grow up, I want to be a . . .

SDAIE- Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English. SDAIE is designed to provide English Language Learners the opportunity to access the same content area curriculum as other students by using specific strategies to make the input comprehensible. Think of SDAIE as differentiated instructional techniques and not watered-down content.

Click here for Ten SDAIE Strategies

SOLOM (Student Oral Language Observation Matrix)- It is a rating scale to help teachers gauge a students oral language fluency in L2 on the basis of listening comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, grammar, and pronunciation. Each of these five components is measured on a scale of 1-5 and teachers can combine scores from all areas to generate a holistic interpretation of a student’s oral proficiency. Because the SOLOM is not a test of language proficiency, teachers can use classroom observations and other informal means to assess their students on a continual basis.

Syntax- This is a cueing system focusing on grammar, sentence construction, and word order. English meaning is heavily influenced by word order. Consider how syntax affects the meaning assigned to each of the following two sentences.

The boy changed his shirt.
The shirt changed the boy.

Total Physical Response (TPR)- This method of teaching is akin to the way a young child learns language, which is through physical modeling. Speech production is not emphasized here until a student is ready. Using TPR, a teacher would use a physical command to teach language as opposed to oral or written communication. After the teacher models the command, a student does the action cooperatively, and then finally on his/her own. The next step is reading and writing the command, and once the child is ready, oral production of the command.

Whole Language- This approach to education focuses on the holistic development of language through reading, speaking, writing, and listening.