Good Esol And Literacy Frameworks Report Example
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ESOL is an acronym that refers to “English for Speakers of Other Languages.” It is an acronym that is sometimes used in the place of more common acronyms like “ESL” because it does not specify how many languages the speaker must speak before he or she begins to learn English-- rather than referring to English as a “second” language, it merely refers to the process of learning English as a foreign language, regardless of age or how many languages the individual already speaks.
Many people are choosing to learn English today because it is such a global language. Because of the global nature of the English language and the many benefits that come from speaking English well, both adults and children of all walks of life have begun to learn the language and utilize it in their everyday lives. This poses a problem for English teachers, especially teachers who are teaching ESOL; the wide array of different people with different experiences that exist in the classroom can certainly be a challenge.
How English is taught may vary from place to place, even between ESOL teachers, because teaching ESOL students requires a great deal of cultural sensitivity and targeted learning. ESOL teachers must address the numerous problems and processes involved in learning to speak, read, listen, and write in a language that is foreign to the individual-- there are many issues that must be addressed by these instructors, and it seems as though new problems arise frequently.
Speaking, listening, and reading are different skill sets that a speaker must learn to become proficient in the language. These processes have been addressed in brief here; the implications of these processes will be investigated further as well.
When learning to speak, the first step in the process for ESOL learners is to learn new pronunciation for English versus their native and secondary tongues. This may mean a very new set of pronunciations-- for example, Thai has some sounds that English does not, and vice versa-- or it may be slightly more straightforward, like moving from German to English (Patkowski). Once pronunciation is absorbed, the next step is for the student to begin to learn sentence constructions; the only way to learn to construct sentences is through listening and speaking practice, as sentences and language used in speaking and listening are often very different in construction and word choice than those used in reading and writing (Patkowski).
Speaking may cause ESOL learners a lot of anxiety, especially at the beginning of the process. This means that ESOL instructors must be very careful not to conflate good English learning with perfect English; grammar and pronunciation should be taught, but good communication skills are also necessary (DelliCarpini). Teaching good communication skills means that the instructor must teach excellent listening skills as well as speaking skills, as listening and speaking are paired activities, and in a real-life situation, it is rare for an individual to expect to speak without having to listen, and vice versa (DelliCarpini).
Listening is something that many ESOL learners struggle with, because it is sometimes hard to keep focused when someone is speaking (Patkowski). One of the problems with the human mind as a whole is that it tends to wander when it becomes overwhelmed or confused, and when an ESOL learner is overwhelmed by the amount of information present when someone is talking, their mind can begin to wander, and they may face the problem of simply not listening. Listeners may also face the issue of trying to translate words into their native language, which takes too much time; this is something that most ESOL speakers do at the beginning of the process, however, and it should be expected.
Reading is commonly one of the lower-stress forms of communication for ESOL learners, because unlike listening and speaking, reading does not require any kind of time pressure on the student (Patkowski). When reading, an individual can take as long as he or she wants to process words and phrases; this is not present in the process of listening or speaking (Patkowski). At the lowest levels of ESOL learning, the individual begins by translating the words he or she sees into his or her native or preferred language; as time goes on, the individual may be able to read with more fluency, comprehending the meaning of words and phrases without the intermediate step of translation. This is the final goal for ESOL learners, so that their reading fluency is at a near-native level, and they have the organic ability to absorb new language (Patkowski).
Readers who are going through the ESOL learning process may prefer reading to speaking because they find it less stressful, but it is important to utilize the reading process to bolster all the other forms of communication that are necessary (Patkowski). Patkowski suggests that many ESOL learners, especially at the university level, have the ability to read and write very well, but have minimal speaking ability; this is because many ESOL programs focus too heavily on reading, writing, and grammar and vocabulary acquisition (Patkowski).
Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin in the same way that listening and speaking are two sides of the same coin. When ESOL learners begin the process of learning to read, they are also learning the process of learning to write (Patkowski). Writing also tends to be a lower-stress process for ESOL learners, because again, ESOL learners can use all the time they have to create something that they consider reflects their skill level with the language (Patkowski).
It is possible to learn to read and write English without ever learning to listen or speak; likewise, it is possible to learn to speak and listen to English without ever learning to read or write. However, when all four processes are integrated into the learning structure of an ESOL system, the system becomes much more effective at producing effective, efficient English speakers. When the system focuses too heavily on only one aspect of the process, the individuals who are learning the language may become too entrenched in one part of the process or another.
DelliCarpini, Margo. 'Teacher Collaboration For ESL/EFL Academic Success(TESL/TEFL)'. The Internet TESL Journal. N.p., 2008. Web. 4 Jan. 2015.
One Stop English,. 'ESOL Teaching Tips'. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Jan. 2015.
Patkowski, Mark. "Basic Skills Tests and Academic Success of ESL College Students". N.p. 2012. TESOL Quarterly.
Troyna, Barry. "Providing Support or Denying Access? The experiences of students designated as 'ESL' and 'SN' in a multi‐ethnic secondary school". N.p. 2009. University of Warwick.
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