Within the Pacific region's school systems, there are a large number of English learner (EL) students, or students with limited English language proficiency. While English is used as the language of instruction in REL Pacific's jurisdictions, each jurisdiction also has an official language, or languages, other than English that usually act as the students' home language (Burger, Mauricio, & Ryan, 2007). Often, children do not receive exposure to English until they begin formal schooling. The connections between a student's first and second language can often make or break a student's success as an English language learner. For example, research shows that students with a higher proficiency in their first language, or the language learned at home, tend to have a better chance at achieving higher proficiency in their second language (which, in the Pacific region, is often English), and likewise, the lower the comprehension skills that a student possesses in their first language, the lower the comprehension and achievement rates are in their second language (Kar-mamuk-Han & Siegel, 2016). Therefore, it is important for educators to understand the imperative classroom support that English learner students require surrounding not only English as their second language, but also regarding their first, home language.
In the classroom, educators can take several steps to ensure that EL students achieve success. Research indicates that the following best practices support EL students and encourage success:
These best practices, and the resources included below, can be used to help educators better support their English learner students throughout the Pacific region and beyond. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please check out these resources and references below, and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*REL Pacific resources related to English language learner best practices:
Abedi, J. (2002). Standardized achievement tests and English language learners: Psychometrics issues. Educational assessment, 8(3), 231–257. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1207/ S15326977EA0803_02.
Abella, R., Urrutia, J., & Shneyderman, A. (2005). An examination of the validity of English-language achievement test scores in an English language learner population. Bilingual Research Journal, 29(1), 12–144. Available from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ724701.
Arellano, B., Liu, F., Stoker, G., & Slama, R. (2018). Initial Spanish proficiency and English language development among Spanish-speaking English learner students in New Mexico (REL 2018–286). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED580202.
Aziz, A., Fook, C. Y., & Alsree, Z. (2010). Scientific Structural Changes within Texts of Adapted Reading Materials. English Language Teaching, 3(4). doi:10.5539/elt.v3n4p216
Baker, S., Geva, E., Kieffer, M., Lesaux, N., Linan-Thompson, S., Morris, J., Proctor, C., & Russell, R. (2014) Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School. Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/english_learners_pg_040114.pdf.
Burger, D., Mauricio, R., & Ryan, J. (2007). English language proficiency assessment in the Pacific Region. Issues & Answers, 14. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED497957.pdf.
Dixon, L. Q., Zhao, J., Shin, J., Wu, S., Su, J., Burgess-Brigham, R., Gezer, M. U., & Snow, C. (2012). What We Know About Second Language Acquisition. Review of Educational Research, 82(1), 5–60. doi:10.3102/0034654311433587
Eslami, H. (2014). The Effect of Syntactic Simplicity and Complexity on the Readability of the Text. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 5(5). doi:10.4304/jltr.5.5.1185-1191
Gersten, R., Baker, S., Shanahan, T., Linan-Thompson, S., Collins, P., & Scarcella, R. (2007, July). Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades. Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/20074011.pdf.
Goodrich, J. M., Lonigan, C. J., & Farver, J. M. (2013). Do early literacy skills in childrens first language promote development of skills in their second language? An experimental evaluation of transfer. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(2), 414–426. doi:10.1037/a0031780
Guzman-Orth, D., Lopez, A. A., & Tolentino, F. (2017). A Framework for the Dual Language Assessment of Young Dual Language Learners in the United States. ETS Research Report Series, 2017(1), 1–19. doi:10.1002/ets2.12165
Prevoo, M. J., Malda, M., Mesman, J., & Ijzendoorn, M. H. (2016). Within- and Cross-Language Relations Between Oral Language Proficiency and School Outcomes in Bilingual Children With an Immigrant Background. Review of Educational Research, 86(1), 237–276. doi:10.3102/0034654315584685
Sanchez, S. V., Rodriguez, B. J., Soto-Huerta, M. E., Villarreal, F. C., Guerra, N. S., & Flores, B. B. (2013). A Case for Multidimensional Bilingual Assessment. Language Assessment Quarterly,10(2), 160–177. doi:10.1080/15434303.2013.769544
Shum, K. K., Ho, C. S., Siegel, L. S., & Au, T. K. (2016). First-Language Longitudinal Predictors of Second-Language Literacy in Young L2 Learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 51(3), 323–344. doi:10.1002/rrq.139
Thomann, H. (2012, December). Dual Language Educator License: Highlights of Competencies, Knowledge, and Skills. Retrieved from https://mabene.org/resources/What%20We%20Do/MABE%20Dual%20Language%20 Educator%20License%20Organized%20by%20TESOL%20Teacher%20Standards%20copy.pdf