Teaching EAL in the Mainstream (EAL joint with TTC)

Location: ROME 25-29 June 2018
Facilitator: Dr. Gini Rojas

This course emphasizes research-based theories of and best practices for teaching English learners. Traditional policies, programs, and practices originated from a ‘deficit’ paradigm where English learners are perceived as a 'problem' requiring 'fixing' by specialists and, until that process is complete, are seen as incapable of achieving academically in grade-level classrooms. The ramifications of this perspective run deep: English learners are seen as the responsibility of EAL staff despite that fact that they spend most of their school day in mainstream classrooms and are perceived as remedial or categorized with students who may be prescribed with an individual education plan due to learning differences. These ambiguities as well as a lack of research-based knowledge on bilingualism and second language acquisition result in instructional approaches based on modifications, interventions, remediation, accommodations, and simplification. Rethinking and redefining EAL instruction from an ‘asset-based’ perspective results in a call to action away from a basic skills, remedial approach to one that focuses on current tenets of EAL teaching and learning; namely,

  • the explicit and intentional development of academic language necessary for access to and success in mainstream classrooms;
  • the strategic use of ‘translanguaging for honoring the language and culture of English learners,’ ‘progressive scaffolding’ for academic language development in English, ‘differentiation’ for access to grade-level subject matter standards, and ‘personalization’ to offer voice and choice to language learners;
  • the collaboration between mainstream and EAL teachers to deliver one curriculum to all learners, including English learners regardless of proficiency levels; and
  • the use of English-language ‘proficiency descriptors’ to monitor and report progress and to use for planning and instructional purposes.