ELL 570 Exam

How to Use in Class

Initiation-Response Feedback
In IRF the student is given a communication task to respond to and the teacher provides feedback to the response (as opposed to IRE in which the response is evaluated). The teacher’s response can be a rephrase of what she heard, a clarifying question, a continuation of the conversation, etc. The idea is to create naturalistic language settings for the language learner to communicate through.
* Moving Out of IRF

When I teach ELL’s it will help them learn English faster and deeper if they are engaged in communication tasks which are at their level and supported with the correct cues such as pictures, lists, diagrams, etc. Rather than evaluate the student’s response as a correct/incorrect choice, I can “keep the conversation going” by interacting through communication exchanges such as “I think you mean . . .”, “I understand you to mean. . .” “I agree, but what do you think about . . .?” etc. These are the types of follow up that make learning English more of a “tennis” match when the object is to keep the ball volleying back and forth across the net (and not out play the opponent!).

Language Function-

Language Function means to describe what communication task (say, state, list, summarize) the learner will perform and for what purpose + the language complexity (word, phrase, sentence) the learner will be engaged with + the verbal and/or visual support/scaffolding the student will receive (graphic organizers, native language, group, conversation.
* What are Language Functions?

It is important to be able to identify what language functions an EL can produce because, if too difficult, the task will overwhelm the student. It is also a good idea to know what type of language functions a particular activity is best suited for and whether there are adaptations which can be made.

Instructional Conversations (IC)
IC’s encourage students to talk about ideas presented in text by drawing on previous background knowledge, their level of understanding, and using higher order thinking skills as opposed to simple comprehension-based answers.
* Developing Oral Language: Instructional Conversations

IC’s in my classroom occur when I attempt to encourage student speaking/listening about a topic from a text they are dealing with by trying to relate it to an interest they might have. This is a great opportunity to get to know my students’ backgrounds and interest more deeply, which will show them how much I care for them.

Language Objectives

Language Objectives are the types of language that a student will demonstrate in an instructional activity. They are tied closely to content objectives.

of the content objectives in a learning environment have to be communicated through language: they are taught, practiced, and assessed in a language. So while teachers have become proficient at creating lessons and units to help students learn content, we haven’t really understood how those lessons are full of language that needs to be broken down into more concrete units. A great tool for me to use for language objectives are the WIDA Performance Indicators because they show teachers how to break content objectives into discreet language steps of increasing complexity.

Inverted Pyramid of Language Proficiency

This upside down pyramid is used by the ACTFL to demonstrate visually the progress a student learning a new language will make. S/he will start as a novice, move to intermediate, then superior, and then advanced. The pyramid demonstrates why it takes longer for a student to move from superior to advanced than it does from novice to intermediate.


This pyramid helps me to understand and accept why my foreign language students never seem to get very far in a 2-year program. Actually they are learning quite a lot in the beginning years because they have to develop vocabulary and speech patterns at the memorization level. With a block schedule, every other day, they don't have the exposure to the language to move very far into the intermediate level. Most of them are able to ask for things such as "can I go to the bathroom" or the "cafeteria". They handle some simple transactions such as asking to borrow a pencil or what time it is. Everything they do in 2 years involves the present tense, so narrating past events or talking about the future (language skills that belong to the "advanced" level of the inverted pyramid would take more that two years.

Comprehensible Input (CI)
CI means that a student should be able to understand the basic idea of what is being communicated to them. Teachers help students learn a language when the language is a little more difficult than their level and when teachers provide background, visuals, cues, re-wording statements, etc. as a scaffold to comprehension.
* What Is Comprehensible Input?
* Stephen Krashen Describes His CI Theory Video.

In my class, it can mean that while preparing lessons for my students, I will want to think about how I can help students understand the target language without using English. I have a hard time with this because my students in Spanish are mostly at-risk. They go through most of their days unsure about what is being communicated in the classroom in English. When I start speaking Spanish, words they don’t know, it will become very stressful for many of my students. The teacher in me feels bad about them not understanding me and breaks down to explain in English. It’s a bad cycle. CI can be a tool that will help me find non-English ways to communicate my messages in Spanish.

WIDA Can Do Descriptors

CAN DO descriptors are a general statement, framed in a positive viewpoint of what an EL can do in English. They show teachers what language students can produce and understand in the classroom at different levels from Entering-1 to Bridging- 5. Because they are general descriptors across the 4 language domains (reading, writing, speaking, listening), they can tell content-area teachers what types of communication tasks students are capable of performing in all classes.
# CAN DO Grades 3-5

The CAN DO descriptors can help teachers beginning to work with the performance standards and MPI’s at all levels. As a classroom teacher, I can expect a Level 3-Developing student to have a greater comprehension of communication tasks than a Level 1-Beginning students. A Level 3 student should be able fill out worksheets at a sentence level, while the Level 1 student may only be able to fill in the blanks or do some matching tasks.


TSW+Language Function+Linguistic Complexity+Support

Is a formula for writing language objectives in lesson planning. "The student will" = TSW; language function refers to reading, writing, speaking, or listening; the complexity refers to the amount and quality of speech or writing the student will accomplish; and the support refers to the types of scaffolding, graphic organizes, student grouping, or other ways in which the teacher builds in support to make the language comprehensible.
* "Overview of Complexity of Learner Language" (Center for Advanced Research in Language Acquisition-CARLA)

As a teacher, I like the formula because it helps me plan lessons for my EL students, as well as my native language speakers, especially those with learning disabilities. Because the WIDA model performance indicators-MPI's--are constructed this way, once I am used to using this formula, I can adapt the MPI's for different content areas than given in the WIDA book. I can be sure that I am creating content standards that are built on language objectives that my EL's can accomplish.

Four Language Domains

Reading, Writing Listening, Speaking. Receptive = Reading and; Directive = writing and speaking. Written communication = reading, writing; Oral communication = speaking, listening. The 4 domains are the ways in which we communicate information through various media. All academic content that EL's will experience will occur through these 4 domains, so it is vital that students receive support in building skills in all of them. Typically students are receptive communicators while teachers and books/art/Internet, etc are the directive channels.
* Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Defining the Constructs and Researching Learner Outcomes


In my classroom, it is important for me to structure activities which build skill in all 4 domains. In my Unit Plan, I attempted to create activities which had my students practicing in all the domains. As I thought about how the content teachers were most teaching their lessons, I wanted to weigh a little more heavily on oral communication to balance the heavy reliance I knew the science, social studies, English, and math teachers were depending on. Having said that, it is also more difficult to assess the oral domains in a quick paper/pencil activity. I have to listen for evidence across several oral activities and assess using rubrics which indicate performance standards.

i + 1

Comprehensible input-CI- plus something a little more challenging. The CI is the performance level of the student plus the background s/he possesses in L1 about the world in general and the communication topic specifically. In order to gain more language ability, the teacher must structure activities which add new language, vocabulary, grammar at a higher level of complexity.
* Ma Famille


As a teacher, I want to use language activities at the performance level to expose my students to. In order for them to acquire language, they need to hear me or read something at the next level of language. I think this could also apply to students who already possess academic language in their L1. If L1 is where their comprehensible input begins, then structuring activities in the L2 as the "+1" helps them to acquire the proficiency in the new language.