Sharing Our Knowledge: Best Practices for Supporting English Language Learners in Schools
Nadia Prokopchuk, University of Saskatchewan
Copyright Year: 2019
Conditions of Use
The text is comprehensive and addresses much needed topics for Els. A collection of essays supported by research and stories, make up a great resource for those seeking to understand and support students learning English. The focus in on Newcomers... read more
The text is comprehensive and addresses much needed topics for Els. A collection of essays supported by research and stories, make up a great resource for those seeking to understand and support students learning English. The focus in on Newcomers and Refugees in Canada; however, these strategies can apply to classrooms in other countries.
Content is error-free
Content is relevant to the needs of today’s learners. One observation is the use of assessment to identify students’ language proficiency. Some of these tools might change as a result of COVID-19, impacting some of the strategies provided in the book. One example is the section on opening schools and creating inclusive environments. This might look different in an online platform.
The concepts and language used throughout the book are clear for readers. However, one needs to get familiar with some of the terminology used in Canada (provided at the beginning) in order to make connections to tools used in the United States.
While there are many essays included the book is consistent in the use of terminology and values around Els. One can follow the theme, assessment tools, and instructional strategies as the work progresses.
This textbook is divided into section with big ideas; broken down into subheadings. These can be used as one explore specific topics around for Els learn and the importance of inclusive environments, teaching strategies, etc. One can break apart topics for a class or use the entire book as focus.
The text is organized in a way where one can follow the needs of Els and how they can be supported throughout the year. From the beginning of the school year to their growth as it relates to language acquisition, the book presents a nice flow for readers. Additionally, one can select certain section (which are clearly label) to explore more about particular topics as well.
The text can be read online or PDF, giving users a choice of platform. This can be convenient as some can gain access off-line, making annotations and highlight content.
There were no grammatical errors found.
Text provides strategies and support for those serving Els on how to be intentional about culturally responsive pedagogy. There are examples around creating inclusive environments, the beginning of school, and ways one can become more culturally competent. All of these supported by research and modules.
A great resource for a college class or those seeking to add strategies to their instructional toolkit.
The book examines specific EAL issues from multiple perspectives on a level appropriate for undergraduate education and education studies students. This book reminds readers that English Language Learners are no longer missing from educational... read more
The book examines specific EAL issues from multiple perspectives on a level appropriate for undergraduate education and education studies students. This book reminds readers that English Language Learners are no longer missing from educational radar, and resources like this book are needed to ensure our preservice teachers have background knowledge and potential strategies and solutions for our culturally and linguistically special populations of students. The book also offers an effective index glossary for use by the reader and undergraduate learners.
This book is important in that it creates a case study of specific and timely issues schools in Saskatchewan are and have been facing. Other schools and districts in and out of Canada can thoroughly examine certain papers, take note of relevant facts, and outline key problems. These problems can be compared to the readers’ local issues, and possible solutions and/or changes delineated within the chapter can be discussed in higher education classes and supported by undergraduate-led outside research and experiences. These generated best solutions and changes can be selected and presented to the by groups of undergraduates.
The growing population and influx of immigrant and refugee students becomes more relevant to preservice teachers each year, and the book reflects these changes. EAL populations of students have academic and social/emotional needs that educators must be aware of and can review strategies and solutions found within the book. Additionally, as discussed in this book, new-to-the-field educators must be prepared for the reality of vicarious trauma and ELLs in special education classrooms.
The text is written in a way that undergraduates can easily understand during their first read and can pursue their own learning by researching the resources named in the book. One of the values of this book is the experience level of the authors that is revealed in their writing. The authors' teaching experience is reflected in the writing, showing what they believe is important for colleagues to know. The authors' text does not get swamped by mounds of research from the field but by strategies that the authors would try in their own classroom.
The book could benefit by a consistent framework for its papers. The use of the word Conclusion at the end of each section could allow undergraduate students to begin their reading activity by reading the conclusions of the chapter before they read. The book would also benefit from the authors using the same style of writing within their papers.
The Contents pages of the book show how appropriate subunits are displayed within, potentially funneled to a specific population of EAL students.
Paper topics within this book are presented in a logical manner. The papers are arranged to begin with support for EALs through the classroom environment and culture before focusing on students from a specific EAL population.
There were no distractions outside of the text, and I did like that some authors offered a Conclusion at the end of their papers. I have met many undergraduate readers that like to read a resource’s Abstract first and Conclusion second before moving on to the reading and understanding of the body of a text.
The book appears to have been edited more than once from more than one perspective. As a previous teacher of English, I did not notice writing issues that normally tend to leap off of the page as I read.
The book shines most when it comes to its discussion, understanding, and strategies for culture within educational environments. Families, teachers and students are discussed in a way that a wonderful mentor teacher would discuss what she found to be valuable in her classroom with her new inservice mentee teacher. Solid strategies for the inclusion of culture, that will benefit all readers, are offered in many papers throughout the book.
The authors in this text seem to have a collegial conversation with pre-service educators instead of speaking from the ‘ivory tower’ (for example, too much research or educational buzzwords or acronyms). I also noticed that many authors use specific examples of strategies that support their writing: this is good writing. Another comment is that students in the US should be asked to search for and find primary and secondary sources that accompany the book's topics with similarities and differences between the neighboring countries and EAL students. Finally, the papers use multiple, appropriate connections to mostly current articles and Internet support.
While the text does cover many of the key aspects to best practices for English Language Learners in schools in Canada, I would argue that the texts focus mainly on ELLs that are newcomers and refugees and not on other identities of ELLs in... read more
While the text does cover many of the key aspects to best practices for English Language Learners in schools in Canada, I would argue that the texts focus mainly on ELLs that are newcomers and refugees and not on other identities of ELLs in schools that are not newcomers nor refugees. Students that are considered to be English learners by schools are sometimes born in English speaking countries. Some students are considered transnational and spend time in both the English speaking country and their/their family’s country of origin. And some students who are native to the land have suffered colonization and denied their language practices. The “best practices” for these students would differ greatly than the newcomer students. Although there movement to best support the newcomers in Canada’s schools, I am sure that those are not the only ELLs that need support from their teachers. The book does have an effective glossary which would need further adaptation for acronyms that are used in different country contexts.
All content seemed to be accurate but I felt that some essays contained deficit language about immigrants and refugees being a “challenge,” implying that they are the ones that need to be saved and assimilated. Although this was not the main or emphasized message in any of the essays I feel that students reading these texts should discuss the language used to describe challenges that immigrants have when entering a country's school system.
The content is mostly up-to-date. There were some essays that relied heavily on the work of Cummins BICS and CALP which, although important to remember, could have been accompanied with more recent scholarship. All essays contained a small personal position statement that could date the work, but I believe was necessary for the comprehensiveness of the essay and powerful for teachers to read the work of other teachers.
Despite being written about Canada’s context the text was undeniably clear. Very accessible for any reader. One of the essays included a visual which would have been nice throughout.
There was consistency in terminology and framework. Reading the entire text had too much repetition of Canada’s context. This repetition is nice to consider for instructors that wish to use only particular chapters of the text.
The text is divisible in smaller reading sections. Most essays are short or divided by subheading.
The topics are presented in a logical order building on each other from the most basic understandings to the more complex.
No interface issue, navigation problems, distortion of images/charts or other features of distraction.
There are no grammatical errors.
They are very clear when presenting examples of refugees in classroom settings that each individual case is different and must be treated as such. Generalizations are not made.
This text is a compilation of essay from Canadian graduate students. It is broken into 4 sections. The sections cover welcoming environment, classroom supports and strategies, refugee supports and special learning challenges. read more
This text is a compilation of essay from Canadian graduate students. It is broken into 4 sections. The sections cover welcoming environment, classroom supports and strategies, refugee supports and special learning challenges.
I found the information to be accurate and informative. Essays were easy to read and had wonderful suggestions for classroom teachers.
The content of this book was up to date with practices for teaching English Learners. The last section has information about working with students who have experienced trauma which is particularly important in today's society.
My only suggest would be to have tables or graphics. Visuals are helpful for all learners!
The essays were consistently well written. Research was relevant and timely.
It would be very easy to assign one essay at a time depending on the topic that was being covered. I would even suggest looking at the sections and asking students to choose one essay in a particular section that interests them. This text is the perfect supplement to any course about teaching English Learners.
Organization is clear and easy to follow.
I utilized the PDF version and found it easy to navigate.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
This text is filled with culturally responsive pedagogy.
I found the text enjoyable to read. I like how it was organized. Essays are easily accessible and can be read together or in isolation.
The book presents a collection of papers addressing a range of factors that arise in teaching and working successfully with English as an Additional Language students written by students enrolled in a post-degree certificate program in EAL... read more
The book presents a collection of papers addressing a range of factors that arise in teaching and working successfully with English as an Additional Language students written by students enrolled in a post-degree certificate program in EAL education, several of whom have first-hand knowledge of the EAL experience and/or immigrant experience in Canada. The papers are organized into four sections, beginning with a set of papers addressing how to provide a welcoming, inviting, and inclusive environment for EAL learners, followed by a set of papers focused on providing classroom support (e.g., effective instructional strategies, note-taking, and assessment practices), a group of papers focused on supporting newcomer and refugee EALs, and wrapping up with a few articles addressing the intersection of EALs and disability. The perspective toward EALs conveyed throughout the book is positive and strengths-based.
The claims made in the articles are based on the professional literatures and the authors appropriately and frequently cite their sources. In terms of error-free, there was only one place where I felt myself drawing back at a claim. The first article included the following statement: "Increasing teacher diversity can promote a “color-blind approach to instruction” (Sobel & Taylor, 2011, p. 18) and help in reducing prevalent cultural biases and misperceptions" (p. 40). This statement was in the context of a discussion of the benefits of increasing teacher diversity. While I fully agree with the need for more teachers of color, I object to presenting a "color-blind approach" to teaching as something to aim for. I understand the author's point was that if a teacher is of the same ethnic group as his or her students, we might hope/expect that there would be less prejudice and more positive expectations for the children. Unfortunately, research shows that teachers of color have often absorbed the same negative perspectives and prejudices towards children of color operating in the society at large. We cannot assume that providing students of color with a teacher from the same background will result in higher achievement.
The articles were all written very recently and cite current sources. The claims made reflect best accepted practice at the time of publication. The articles were written as a means for students to demonstrate their learning and growth in the course, and informative as the articles are, the book does not serve the purposes of a more typical textbook. Given that these are papers reflecting students' own learning and growth in the course, I do not see how "updates" could be made, since next year's students would have a different learning experience. This is not a drawback, since next year's students could contribute to a new book that would likely be just as engaging.
The text is written by students in a Certificate program, and not by academics/researchers. As such, the writing is fully accessible to college-aged readers.
The text is internally consistent. In fact, the articles included referenced many of the same texts/sources. This is to be expected in a text of this sort, where students have been assigned the same set of readings. Luckily, some of the authors branched out to include other authors; I would like to recommend that to increase breadth of perspective (and enlarge students' knowledge base), the professor should probably require students to use at least as many resources that were NOT assigned as the ones that were assigned reading when gathering information for their papers. This would make for less overlap, perhaps.
The 17 papers are organized into four sections, beginning with a set of papers addressing how to provide a welcoming, inviting, and inclusive environment for EAL learners, followed by a set of papers focused on providing classroom support (e.g., effective instructional strategies, note-taking, and assessment practices), a group of papers focused on meeting the needs of refugee EALs, and the book wraps up with a few articles addressing the intersection of EALs and disability, including articles addressing the challenges of distinguishing between problems related to the language learning process and those of a learning disability and the risk of over-identifying EALs for special education services when teachers and other school-based personnel do not have a good understanding of how language and cultural differences may impact learning and behavior in school. The teacher could easily assign two or three articles that address specific topics of interest.
The topics are presented in a clear, logical progression, starting with articles on how to welcome an EAL and make sure he or she feels welcome in the classroom community, then several articles on different instructional practices that are effective for EALs, followed by a set of readings on addressing EALs who are newcomers/refugees.
The text is easy to navigate, pictures appear correctly, and hotlinks work. Please note: I found this prompt confusing because I wasn't sure if "High" meant "Strongly Agree" with the above statement, or if it meant there were a high number of interface issues.
There were very few grammatical errors, and the writing did not distract from the message. Please note: I also found this prompt confusing because I wasn't sure if "High" meant "Strongly Agree" with the above statement, or if it meant there were a high number of errors.
The textbook focuses on cultural diversity, and so is very strong in this area. Students and families from diverse cultures are presented in a very positive light, and the message throughout the book is that teachers need to learn how to make students from diverse cultures welcome, how to provide effective instruction for these students, and how to meet the needs of EALs who are refugees as well as those who have experienced trauma in order for these students to meet their full potential.
I truly enjoyed reading the articles and learned something as well. Several authors incorporated some of their own stories/ experiences as they explored connections to and learning related to their chosen topic. The diversity present among the authors, coupled with the very accessible writing, made for very enjoyable reading.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Welcoming Environments and Cultural Responsiveness
- 1 - Impact of Culture on EAL Students' Education
- 2 - The Importance of Culturally Responsive Teaching
- 3 - Supporting Newcomer EAL Students in the Elementary Classroom: The First Weeks
- 4 - Teaching EAL Students: Children of Two Language Worlds
- 5 - Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
- 6 - Intercultural Competence and the Inclusive Classroom
Part 2: Classroom Support for EAL Learners
- 7- Instructional Strategies to Support EAL Learners at Various Stages of the CFR
- 8 - Supporting the Needs of EAL Learners
- 9 - The Power of Visual Notetaking: Empowering EAL Student Learning in the Classroom
- 10 - The Importance of Meaningful and Consistent Assessment Practices
- 11 - Support and Resources for EAL Students and Teachers
Part 3: Settlement and Refugee Support
- 12 - Integration of Newcomers in Saskatchewan Schools: The Role of Settlement Workers
- 13 - Accessing Academic Language in Math and Science for Refugee Learners
- 14 - Supporting Refugee English Language Learners in Canadian Classrooms
Part 4: EAL Learners with Special Learning Challenges
- 15 - Trauma and its Impact on Learning
- 16 - Distinguishing Between a Language Acquisition Problem and Learning Challenges in ELL Students
- 17 - Disproportionate Representation of English Language Learners in Special Education
About the Book
To complete the course ECUR 415.3: Current Issues in EAL, students are required to submit a final paper that reflects their growing knowledge about English as an Additional Language (EAL). EAL is the term used in Saskatchewan to describe students who speak languages other than English and require adequate levels of English to be successful with the school curriculum.
Most students enrolled in the online course ECUR 415 are practicing teachers who are working toward a Post-Degree Certificate in EAL Education (PDCEAL), while continuing to live and work in various locations both within and outside of the province. The certificate program, offered through the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, is recognized by provincial education authorities as being equivalent to one full year of post-degree study. As such, the certificate equips teachers with the knowledge and expertise to be considered teacher-specialists of EAL Education. The course ECUR 415 also attracts some pre-service teachers who are pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree and have an interest in EAL Education.
About the Contributors
Nadia Prokopchuk, University of Saskatchewan