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ERIC Number: ED514335
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May-7
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 44
Building Schema for English Language Learners
Navarro, Ann M.
Online Submission
Background: Many classrooms today have ESL students who do not speak English and are completely lost. How can teachers help these students comprehend what they are learning in English? Purpose: The purpose of this research is to identify effective reading strategies to build schema for English language learners (ELLs) to help them comprehend. Research Design: Descriptive. Findings: When working with ELLs, teachers must be cautious with the assumptions about what they already know about the topic being discussed. According to Echevarria and Short (2004/2005), when ELLs are struggling with class work, teachers should take under consideration that the problem may be linked to background knowledge and does not necessarily mean it is due to intellectual ability. To help students learn new information, it is important to find out what they already know. This requires specific preparation in working with ELLs in order to determine what their prior education experiences were. A way to assess a student's background knowledge is to brainstorm and cluster in small groups on a topic that will be taught. Teachers cannot assume that a student has the same background experiences as their peers because they live in the United States and are the same age (Rea & Mercuri, 2006). Given the importance of building background knowledge and helping ELLs create schema, various strategies can be implemented including: Pre-reading, Communicative Pre-Reading, Vocabulary Instruction, Visual Cues, Questioning Methods, Comprehension Instruction, and Appreciating Their Culture. Conclusion: In conclusion, the research presented reveals meaningful strategies that will help ESL students build and activate background knowledge. This in turn will help them develop a schema when reading or listening to a message and be able to say, "Aha, that reminds me of" and make connections to the text. With enough practice, modeling, and exposure, teachers can implement some of these strategies in their classrooms to accommodate ESL students that may be present. Building background knowledge is critical for ELLs because they do not bring the same experiences that others may have due to their culture and/or past experiences. Teachers must be conscientious of these factors and keep them in mind when planning instruction. Most importantly, teachers must take time to listen to their students discuss different topics and texts by asking probing questions that promote elaborate responses and provide experiences to make this possible. By helping ESL students feel that their culture is valued through literature, they will become comfortable in discussing prior experiences; this helps teachers become familiar with their students' prior knowledge and cultural backgrounds. The more teachers know about their students' culture and background knowledge, the easier it will be to identify what strategies they need to build schema and help them become independent readers. Citation: American Federation of Teachers. (2002). Teaching English-Language Learners: What Does the Research Say? Educational Issues Policy Brief, 14, 1-8. Carrell, P. L. (1989a). SLA and classroom instruction: Reading. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 1988, 9, 233-242. Echevarria, J., & Short, D. (2004/2005). Teacher Skills to Support English Language Learners. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 8-13. Fitzgerald, J., & Graves, M. F. (2004/2005). Reading Supports for All. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 68-71. Freeman, D. E., & Freeman, Y. (2000). Teaching reading in multilingual classrooms. Portsmouth NH: Heinemann. Grabe, W. (1991). Current Developments in Second Language Reading Research. TESOL Quarterly, 25(3), 375-406. Kant, Immanuel. (1963). Critique of pure reason. (1st ed. 1781, 2nd ed. 1787, N. Kemp Smith, Trans.). London: MacMillan Publishing Co. Leos, K. (2004). No child left behind Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Association for Bilingual Education, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mercuri, S. P. & Rea, D. M. (2006). Research-Based Strategies for English Language Learners. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Pearson-Casanave, C. R. (1984). Communicative Pre-Reading Activities: Schema Theory in Action. TESOL Quarterly, 18(2), 334-336. Peregoy, S. F., & Boyle, O. F. (2000). English Learners Reading English: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Theory into Practice, 39(4), 237-247
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States