Effective Educational Programs, Practices, and Policies for English Learners
reviewed by Najah Alsaedi - February 08, 2016
Title: Effective Educational Programs, Practices, and Policies for English Learners
Author(s): Liliana Minaya-Rowe (Ed.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623968577, Pages: 256, Year: 2014
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The number of English Language Learners (ELLs) and multilingual students in the U.S. has dramatically increased during this current decade, and the estimated increase of ELLs has surpassed 150% since 1990 (Goldenberg & Coleman, 2010, p. 108). This growth makes adequately educating pre-service trainees to accommodate ELLs one of the major challenges facing teacher preparation programs. There is a lack of proper preparation for teachers to meet the needs of ELLs; this widens the gap between what teachers are trained to do and what they need to do to teach students who cannot meet academic demands. This leaves educators in a predicament concerning how to minimize this gap and help ELLs meet academic demands in mainstream classes.
Liliana Minaya-Rowes edited volume Effective Educational Programs, Practices, and Policies for English Learners is part of the Research in Bilingual Education series that addresses educational issues involving ELLs and provides applicable solutions. Her book focuses on training U.S. teachers to meet the needs of ELLs and foster multilingualism and multiculturalism in American classes. This volume is a collection of nine scholarly research articles written by practitioners, teacher trainers, researchers, administrators, and policymakers, and aims to meet both the linguistic and academic needs of English Language learners in the U.S. context. The books underlying assumption is that ELLs will be able to survive school and master both the academic content and English Language demands if their needs are appropriately met.
Minaya-Rowe begins the volume with an article that aims to present the challenges that ELLs encounter in meeting Common Core State Standards (CCSS) requirements, and provides guidance in light of theory and research. The following two chapters focus on scaffolding as a model to teach new content, such as science and mathematics, along with language. The fourth chapter explicates a teacher-generative model to teach science and language in three high school contexts, and concludes that the study sheds light on the importance of understanding ELL student needs in mainstream classes without a one-size-fits-all approach. Chapter Five presents an example of integrating language into the elementary school art curriculum. Chapter Seven discusses a flexible preparation program for content teachers and special education teachers to effectively educate and assess ELLs to meet the requirements of CCSS.
Chapter Six shifts towards policy, provides evidence for teacher capability in delivering suitable instruction and practice, and discusses the ability of educators to be policy makers within policy contexts. The final two chapters discuss implementing the dual language approach as a way to help ELLs overcome prospective difficulties. Chapter Eight presents an example of dual language programs for grades PK8 in New England which aims to enable ELLs to communicate in two languages and two cultures while also succeeding academically. Chapter Nine directs its attention toward higher education, specifically the needs of ELLs and using the dual language approach to improve professional competency in their majors. These nine articles call educators to abandon traditional theories that teach language in isolation of academic content, and promote language as an action that is developed, with support, in and through meaningful and engaging activities across the curriculum (p. 3).
The strength of Effective Educational Programs lies in the examples it provides for implementing English within academic contents for ELLs from kindergarten through higher education. It starts with an article that presents relevant research, theory, and main challenges that ELLs face. The books strength is also its empirical evidence for integrating language within academic content to help ELLs triumph over potential academic language and content challenges. The majority of chapters have figures and tables, like curriculum maps and project graphics, which facilitate textual understanding.
Effective Educational Programs, Practices, and Policies for English Learners is a book that provides valuable empirical research studies, but is not written in a beginning-to-end progression. The chapters would be better organized if they were divided into major themes. Although this book is primarily addressed to teachers and school and university stakeholders in the U.S., it would be beneficial for English Foreign Language (EFL) contexts and English-medium schools and colleges abroad. Overall, I highly recommend this book for second language teachers, administrators, and teacher training program developers because it presents applicable examples for integrating second language learning and academic content as a way to help ELLs overcome some challenges in mastering academic context.
Goldenberg, C., & Coleman, R. (2010). Promoting academic achievement among English learners. A guide to research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.