76. I have a student who speaks good, but not perfect, English. When he attempts to write simple sentences, he does poorly on grammar. What is the best way to teach written English?The best way to teach written English is to help students SPEAK in English about the topic they wish to write. In ALL languages, GREAT WRITERS usually are GREAT SPEAKERS, too.
Now, a student may "speak" good English when (s)he speaks about familiar topics, when (s)he interacts in informal, conversational situations. A student who speaks "good English" in these types of every-day "polite / survival / common" situations is a speaker who has highly developed "BICS," that is, Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills.
about a school topic that requires high level thinking skills,
about a specialized topic from the content areas,
to describe or explain a content area concept or key idea,
about a topic that requires knowledge of a specialized vocabulary,
demands that the speaker develops "CALP," that is, Cognitive-Academic Language Proficiency. It is very difficult to develop CALP: The language proficiency needed to talk fluently about the key concepts, ideas, topics, issues, themes that form the academic core of the content areas. To WRITE about these key concepts, ideas, topics, issues and themes is extremely difficult, especially in the absence of the ORAL LANGUAGE SKILLS that serve as foundations to writing skills.
How can we help students: Here is a complete lesson plan, including extensions into content areas, from a second grade teacher. Observe how she develops writing skills in her lessons over a period of several days. How she builds the vocabulary for students to TALK about the chosen topic. And, most importantly, HOW SHE DEMONSTRATES, FIRST ORALLY AND THEN IN WRITING, HOW TO USE ALL THE INFORMATION AND VOCABULARY POSTED ON THE WALL CHART to write a paragraph.
Topic: My Favorite Pet
SUBJECT: Written language-vocabulary development and paragraph writing.
OVERALL OBJECTIVE: After thorough development of vocabulary about "My Favorite Pet", students will demonstrate understanding of vocabulary and concepts by writing a paragraph about their favorite animal or pet.
OBJECTIVE 1 (Day 1)
OBJECTIVE 2 (Day 2) (Continuation of chart -development of adjectives & verbs)
OBJECTIVE 3 (Day 3) (Continuation of chart -development of nouns and verbs)
OBJECTIVE 4 (Day 4) (Continuation of chart and teacher demonstration)
OBJECTIVE 5 (Day 5)
CATEGORIES developed by the teacher on a wall chart over a period of 5 instructional days.
The teacher had written these vocabulary words --organized into categories-- in her lesson plans, as she prepared her lessons. During the lessons, the teacher charted the vocabulary words provided by the students. When the students, as she was charting their responses, did NOT mention the words she had in her lesson plans, then the teacher introduced them as NEW vocabulary.
MY FAVORITE PET
|What kind of pet?|
|Where did you get your pet?|
|relative (cousin, grandparentsaunt, uncle, sister, brother)|
|a present or gift|
|it was a stray|
|What sounds does your pet make?|
|Describe your pet.|
|What does it look like?|
|colors brown, white, etc.|
|patterns or markings|
What movements does your pet make?
gallops, jumps, flies, trots, slithers, soars, stalks, crawls, hops, moves slowly, scurries, scampers, glides, wiggles, etc.
Where would you keep your pet? -(The pets home)
in a box, basket
in a cage
in the house
in the backyard
on my bed
kennel ( if on vacation)
in my room
What do you feed your pets?
dog food ( brand names?)
pellets ( rabbit or guinea pig)
table scraps ( leftovers)
What is your animal covered with?
Example: A German Shepherd is covered with fur.
Panda bears are covered with fur.
|Names Of pets|
|German Shepherd, Shin Tzu,||cocktiel, cockateel|
|Mutt (mixed breed)||rooster|
|Old English Sheep dog|
After the fifth day of instruction, the teacher EXPANDS her lesson. Using the following drawing (on a transparency), the teacher BUILDS THE VOCABULARY through meaningful CATEGORIES before the students read the poem "BEAR IN THERE."
Here is the DRAWING:
And this is the poem the students will read AFTER the teacher builds the vocabulary through meaningful CATEGORIES.
BEAR IN THERE
There's a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire-
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there-
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.
By Shel Silverstein "A Light in the Attic"
Here are the teachers vocabulary CATEGORIES, prepared in her lesson plans:
Vocabulary Development for "Bear in There" by Shel Silverstein
|Parts of a Body
|Sounds you make with your mouth|
|FOOD in the Refrigerator||lick- licking|
|meat||"lets out a roar"|
|noodles||"gives me a scare"|
|soda||it's- it is|
|ice||there's -there is|
|Appliances||he's -he is|
|Changing nouns to adjectives
Polar -polary bear (play on words)
Frigidaire -Frigitydaire (play on words)
Pronouns & Possessives
he -Polar bear
his face, his big hairy paws etc.
there- in the Frigidaire
that -Polar bear
The teacher now EXPANDS the lesson into the content areas, ALWAYS developing the new vocabulary FIRST. This is her last lesson plan:
I have a hot dog for a pet,
Would you like to buy a dog with a tail at either end?
He doesn't have a place to put a collar,
He cannot bite, he'll never bark or growl,
For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:
1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading
Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)
Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.
For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:
CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)
3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406
Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605