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What Research Tells Us

What Research Tells Us About Improving the Academic Achievement of Students with Diverse Background / ELLs

Major areas include:

  • Diverse Background
  • Literacy achievement gap
  • Cultural component
  • Equity issue
  • Instructional strategies

Who are the Limited English Proficient Students (LEP) / English Language Learners (ELL)?

LEP/ELL students are those who:

  • Come from a home where a language other than English is spoken.
  • Speak a language other than English as their primary means of communicating.
  • Are learning English but are not proficient in understanding, speaking, reading, or writing English.
  • Score below the 40th percentile on a standardized English reading test.

Diverse Background

  • Ethnicity, SES, Primary Language
  • In the United States
    • African American, Latino American, Native American.
    • From low income families.
    • Speak a home language other than standard American English.

Academic Gap 

  • More significant in high school - Students lose 4 year of learning.
  • Historical research on rising standards of literacy (Stedman & Kaesthe, 1991).
  • Globalization as the impetus for higher standards.
    • American workers need to out-think workers in other parts of the world.

Equity Issue 

  • In comparison to mainstream students, students with diverse backgrounds tend to receive:
    • A great deal of instruction in lower-level skills.
    • Little instruction in higher-level thinking about text.

Cultural Component

  1. Learn about the historical background of each ethnic group
    • Why they are here - There are many reasons why these groups came to the United States:  Political, Economic, Etc.
    • Culture & Learning Styles
    • Language & Identity Crisis - Is there?
  2. Bridging the Academic Gap
    • Content Based
    • Collaborative approach
    • Native language support
    • Identity validation / sense of belonging
  3. Parental Involvement in School
    • Building trust
    • Home visits
    • Parent meeting, using translator or liaison to help with communication
    • Validate and give parents a sense of purpose and how valuable they are to the school / community
    • Have parents come in to be guest speakers to share their experience, knowledge and background.

Instructional Strategies

  • Culturally Responsive Instruction
    • Build on values and experiences students bring from the home & see their home languages as a resource.
    • this principle applies to all students, including those of mainstream backgrounds
    • Respect for the home language = Respect for the students and their culture ( Au, 2004)
    • Multicultural books
    • Culturally related content
    • Bi-literacy
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Hands-on
  • Sheltered Instruction
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • TPR (Total Physical Response)
  • Preview/Review
  • Two-Way Bilingual Immersion
  • Natural Approach