Sunday, February 19, 2012

This is my dispositions diary for INED 7783, which deals with methods and materials for instruction of ESL students. I will try to do a breakdown by chapters of the book but there will also be some class insights as well as ah-ha moments.

Chapter 1 -  introduced the SIOP model, which stands for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. This protocol seems to be just good instruction but especially useful for students who are learning English as a second language. I think that other countries could adapt this format to help with instruction of any student whose first language is not the language of instruction. This process helps to scaffold the content being taught so it will be comprehensible to the learner while also promoting English learning. This leads into

Chapter2 - which is Lesson Preparation. The biggest ah-ha for me was that you should have both a content objective and a language objective for every lesson. When reading through this chapter, this could seem to be a daunting task but one with benefits for all. The focus is not only on students learning the content but also how they can show that in English. There are four main areas with which to process language - listening, speaking, reading and writing. When one specifically plans for one of these domains, there is a connection being made to the content and how the student is going to process that content. Objectives should be verbalized and in written form in the classroom. In writing both content and language objectives - remember to make sure the concepts are appropriate for age and ability and take into consideration background knowledge. Use supplementary materials such as graphic organizers, pictures and realia, and provide diverse and multiple opportunities for students to interact with the material they are learning.

Chapter 3 - Building Background.  Through this chapter we learned that there are three things you need to do with all learners, but especially ESL learners. First, you need to link concepts to students' background experiences. Next, you need to bridge past learning to current learning. Third, you need to emphasize key vocabulary. By doing these three you are building on background knowledge and experiences to make learning relevant. This will help make the learning meaningful and in turn hopefully allow them to retain more of what they learn.

I work in a school with a large ESOL population. The readings and class discussions have made me so much more aware of the specific needs of this population, but also how many of these same strategies and techniques can benefit English speakers who have limited experiences and vocabulary primarily as a result of socio-economic status. Most of the children in my school do not have many, if any, books at home.