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Principles for 'Case Studies' Project

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The following theoretical principles, along with their practical implications in the classroom, form the pedagogical basis of the case-studies project. They are adapted from "Basic Principles for the Education of Language-Minority Students: An Overview,'' a publication of the California State Department of Education.

1. For bilingual students, the development of proficiencies in both the native language and English has a positive effect on academic achievement.

2. Language proficiency is the ability to use language for both academic purposes and basic communicative tasks.

3. For limited-English-proficient students, reaching the "threshold'' of native-language skills necessary to complete academic tasks forms the basis for similar proficiency in English.

Implications:

  • Students are provided substantial amounts of instruction in and through the native language.
  • Initial reading classes and other cognitively demanding subjects are taught in the native language.
  • Sufficient texts and supplementary materials are available in the native language.
  • A sufficient number of well-trained teachers with high levels of native-language proficiency are available to provide instruction.
  • Teachers avoid mixing English and the native language during instruction.
  • Teachers accept regional and nonstandard varieties of the native language.

4. Acquisition of basic communicative competency in a second language is a function of comprehensible second-language instruction and a supportive environment.

Implications:

  • Comprehensible instruction in the second language is provided through both English-as-a-second-language classes and subject-matter classes.
  • When subject-matter classes are used to provide comprehensible English teaching, subjects are selected in which the cognitive demands are low to moderate.
  • E.S.L. instruction is communication-based rather than grammar-based and is characterized by the following: (a) content is based on the students' communicative needs; (b) instruction makes extensive use of contextual clues; (c) the teacher uses only English, but modifies speech to students' level and confirms student comprehension; (d) students are permitted to respond in their native language when necessary; (e) the focus is on language function or content, rather than grammatical form; (f) grammatical accuracy is promoted, not by correcting errors overtly, but by providing more comprehensible instruction; and (g) students are encouraged to respond spontaneously and creatively.
  • Opportunities for comprehensible English instruction are provided for LEP students both when grouped by language proficiency and when interacting with fluent-English-speaking peers.

5. The perceived status of students affects the interaction between teachers and students and among students themselves. In turn, student performances are affected.

Implications:

  • Teachers use positive interactions in an equitable manner with both majority- and minority-language students.
  • Minority- and majority-language students are enrolled in content classes in which cooperative learning strategies are used.
  • Whenever possible, majority-language students are enrolled in classes designed to develop second-language proficiency in the minority language(s) represented in the school.
  • Administrators, teachers, and students use the minority language(s) represented in the school for non-instructional purposes.

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