University of Northern Colorado (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3448-3457
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
As a result of global migration, teachers are now required to teach their content area as well as discipline-specific academic language to their second language and immigrant students. This oral presentation will provide a brief overview of theoretical and research perspectives on teaching content knowledge and academic language simultaneously in the classroom and describe the results of two different qualitative case studies – one focused on strategies used by a practicing middle level science teacher and the other on strategies used by novice elementary level teacher candidates teaching math, science, or social studies. Implications for needed improvements in teacher development and teacher education will be made at the end of the session.

Educators are struggling with the implementation of instructional strategies that teach academic language and content knowledge simultaneously to second language and immigrant children and youth (Echevarria, et al, 2008; Lee & Buxton, 2010; Rosebery & Warren, 2008; Schleppegrell, et al, 2004; Short et al, 2010; Sunal, Sunal & Wright, 2010; TESOL, 2006, 2009). Teachers are typically encouraged to use sheltering techniques (e.g. make the input comprehensible, build background knowledge, teach academic vocabulary, incorporate oral language development strategies, etc.) to develop academic language in the various school disciplines, but there is not yet a strong research base about how teachers learn to implement sheltering techniques nor how individual teachers conceptualize the pedagogical connections between academic language and content in their respective disciplines. In addition, there is very little research on how novice teachers learn to integrate language and content instruction in their teacher education programs.

Drawing on data from classroom observations, teacher interviews and student interviews, the first case study describes several broad instructional strategies used by a veteran science teacher to teach scientific academic language in the context of a unit on space. These strategies included storytelling, modeling the asking of questions, focusing on the definitions of academic vocabulary, teaching language structures through the use of lecture notes, and utilizing photographs, pictures, posters, and videos to teach scientific concepts. Although the teacher incorporated appropriate strategies, more targeted focus would have improved the opportunities students had to learn academic language as well as content.

To build on the results from the first research study, a second collective case study investigated the sheltering techniques used by six teacher candidates enrolled in a teacher education program designed to prepare novice teachers to teach content and language effectively to second language and immigrant students in their classrooms. The analysis of teaching videos, lesson plans, and reflective essays written by the students indicated that the dual endorsed teacher candidates did utilize scaffolding techniques such as the explicit teaching of vocabulary, the modeling of language structures, and the use of realia to make the input comprehensible, but they struggled with fully integrating language and content.

To conclude the presentation, pedagogical and theoretical issues in teacher education focused on the integration of academic language and content knowledge will be addressed.