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Songs and Chants to Develop Authentic Language for English Language Learner (ELL) Writers


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Title: Songs and Chants to Develop Authentic Language for English Language Learner (ELL) Writers

Songs and Chants to Develop Authentic Language
for English Language Learner (ELL) Writers
  • Angie Green
  • ESOL Teacher
  • Laurens 55

Immigrants Dilemma My English teacher assigns a
descriptive paragraph to write everything we can
remember about our last visit to the dentist. I
look at my white sheet of paper my jaw throbs
from pain the Tylenol wears off. I have no
memories of a dentist. The pain in my back tooth
reminds me that dentist is only a vocabulary
word to me. Noun a health professional
who specializes in caring for the teeth,
gums, and other tissues in the mouth. I
look at my white sheet of paper my jaw throbs
from pain the Tylenol wears off. I have no
memories of a dentist. Angela C. Green
Senior Assignment I
  • Senior Assignment II
  • In San Miguel,
  • we have no prom,
  • No time for dances, festivals, or celebrations.
  • Every day we work,
  • Every day, a regular work day.
  • Only sometimes at night
  • when the frogs start barking just after
  • the sun sinks behind the hills
  • sucking the thick hot air after it,
  • we gather to drink soda,
  • eat beef asada and rice
  • laugh, share stories, and sing traditional
  • Guatemalan folksongs.
  • It is not prom, but our
  • Rainbow dresses and music
  • from generations past
  • satisfy our souls
  • making us feel

Until this assignment, Write a poem about the
prom, I had never heard the word
prom. Sitting silently in class pondering
the word prom obviously understood
by everyone except me. Fear of facing
humiliation prohibits my asking for further
explanation. I go ask my ESOL teacher who
tries to explain-- then gives up, and gently
guides me to Google to show me prom images on the
Internet. Girls in pink dresses like princesses
look lovely accompanied by black tuxedoed
boys with bright smiles and handsome
faces. Everyone celebrating their
beauty pretending to be Cinderella and the
Prince, believing in happily ever after for one
night. I could never go to prom, Dressed up like
that, Could never imagine myself In fancy gowns,
shiny shoes, or pearls. I dont want to be that
  • I walked into my first classroom August of 1982.
    That was 29 years ago. The 2011-12 school year
    will be my 30th year of teaching and I am just as
    excited to walk in the class room this year as I
    was way back then.
  • One of the reasons I continue to enjoy teaching
    is because there is never one day, one class
    period, or one year just like the one before it.
    The first 25 years of my career, I taught writing
    and literature, public speaking, and some
    education courses. I also taught social studies
    and language arts for three years in North
  • But I had long grown weary of grading the papers
    of my students and not having the time to write
    my own stories and poems, so I decided to put my
    linguistics background to work and take the last
    course the SCSDE said I needed to be certified to
    teach ESOL. Four years ago, I moved back home and
    started teaching ESOL in Laurens, SC. I was
    responsible for the high school, one elementary
    school and one middle school.

  • I was based at the high school and had to
    document the progress of approximately 50 ESOL
    students, with most of them scoring advanced on
    tests to determine their English skills. I also
    had to travel to a combined elementary and middle
    school with about 15 ESOL students.
  • The 2nd year the high school increased to about
    80 some students. The 3rd year I had 90 and I
    also had to begin going to another middle school.
    This past school year I was responsible for over
    100 ESOL students. Another teacher was
    responsible for Ford Elementary school which has
    approximately 125 ELLs, and a third ESOL teacher
    serviced the other two middle schools and two
    elementary schools.
  • Thankfully, only a few come into the district
    without knowing any English at all.
  • The 2011-12 school year is going to be entirely
    different from anything I have ever done. I will
    be teaching K-5. There are many of them who do
    not speak English. They have been at home with
    their mamas speaking Spanish their entire lives.
    Others are in the early grades and are still
    considered pre-functional or beginning. I have my
    job cut out for me. But I am certainly not alone.

English Language Learners in Classrooms A Big
Change for US Schools BLOG Posted on February
3, 2011 by letcteachers (Language Etc.)
  • A decade ago, about 3.5 million school children
    in the United States were English language
    learners. Now its over 5 millionalmost 11
    percent of all kids in US public schools. Its a
    steep challenge for schools, and not just in the
    traditional gateway states like California,
    Texas, and New York. Teachers in small towns from
    Alabama to Kansas to South Dakota now find their
    classes include children speaking Korean, Hindi,
    Arabic, Hmong, and dozens of other languages.

  • To help educators grapple with this change, the
    Migration Policy Institute has set up an online
    ELL Information Center with videos, fact sheets,
    and maps on the English language learner (ELL)
    student population across the United States.
  • I have a thing for interactive mapswell, maps
    in generaland I like the one that shows the
    percentage of ELL students by state. Roll the
    cursor over the map and see which states have the
    highest density of English language learners.
    Leading is Nevada, where a whopping 31 percent of
    schoolchildren are ELLs, followed by California,
    New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. At the other end
    of the scale is our neighbor West Virginia, where
    just 0.6 percent of kids are English learners.
  • Where has ELL enrollment grown fastest? That
    would be, if you can believe it,

South Carolina, where the number of ELL students
in schools has grown more than 800 percent in the
last decade.
  • http//

Instructional Roadblock
  • The roadblock I face teaching pre-functional and
    beginning ELLs is their limited vocabulary and
    concept of sentence structures in English.
  • When they come into the U.S. school system, they
    may have little to no knowledge of English and
    sometimes little to no literacy skills in their
    first language however, the government still
    expects them to take standardized tests either in
    the spring or at the end of their courses.
  • They also have to pass HSAP or they might pass
    all of their classes and still might not receive
    their high school diploma.
  • There have not been a few times that I have had
    students come to the United States in the 7th or
    8th grade without knowing any English at all no
    understanding, speaking, reading, or writing.

What does this look like in academia?
Classroom Context ELL Statistics
  • From the 1997-98 school year to the 2008-09
    school year, the number of English-language
    learners enrolled in public schools increased
    from 3.5 million to 5.3 million, or by 51
    percent (English Language Learners).
  • During the 2007-08 school year, only 11 states
    met their accountability goals for ELLs,
    according to an analysis of federal data by the
    Washington-based American Institutes for Research
    (Zehr, May 12, 2010).
  • 12 percent of students with limited English
    scored at or above proficient in mathematics in
    the 4th grade on the 2009 National Assessment of
    Educational Progress, compared with 42 percent of
    students not classified as English-language
    learners (Slavin, Madden Calderon, 2010).
  • The gap was considerably wider in 8th-grade math,
    where 5 percent of ELLs were proficient or above
    on the 2009 NAEP, compared with 35 percent of
    non-ELL students. The math assessment is
    available in Spanish as well as English(Slavin,
    Madden Calderon, 2010).
  • Only 3 percent of ELLs met that standard in 8th
    grade reading in 2009, compared with 34 percent
    of non-ELLs (English Language Learners).

(No Transcript)
A little bit of theory
  • 1. Silent/Receptive Stage
  • 10 hours to 6 months, 500 receptive words
  • Point to objects, act, nod, or use gestures, say
    yes or no, speak hesitantly
  • 2. Early Production Stage
  • 6 months to 1 year, 1000 receptive/active words
  • Produce one- or two-word phrases, use short
    repetitive language, focus on key words and
    context clues

Krashens Stages of Language Acquisition (1982)
Stages of Acquisition cont.
  • 3. Speech Emergence Stage
  • 1-2 years, 3000 active words
  • Engage in basic dialogue, respond using simple
  • 4. Intermediate Fluency Stage
  • 2-3 years, 6000 active words
  • Use complex statements, state opinions and
    original thoughts, ask questions, interact in
    more lengthy conversations
  • 5. Advanced Fluency Stage
  • 5-7 years, content area vocabulary
  • Converse fluently, understand grade-level
    classroom activities
  • Argue and defend academic points,
  • Read grade-level textbooks
  • Write organized and fluent essays
  • Does not mean student is on grade level!
  • More current research than Krashen says 7-11
    years or more.
  • (Cummins 1979, 1984)

Number of Vocabulary Words Needed to Master High
School Content?
  • Academic words needed
  • Average ell learns/year?
  • 50,000
  • 3,000

ELLs who grow up in the US are often still
behind Why? Hart and Risley estimated a
30-million word gap by age three between the
average number of words heard by the children of
parents on welfare and those whose parents are
professionals (2003).
Do you think this could have anything to do with
the achievement gap between Ells and Native
English speakers?
Essential question
  • What are the quickest and most effective methods
    to help English Language Learners build the
    foundations, scaffolding, and ultimately,
    academic structures, to insure success in their
    reading, writing, math and other content area

Some solutions Already used To Decrease gap
  • Select a language development program (READ 180,
    Open Book, Reading Recovery, etc.)
  • Sheltered Content instruction
  • Bilingual with content based ESL classes (not
    acceptable in SC) but students can translate
    content for other students.
  • Newcomer program
  • --Often implemented at secondary level
  • --Introduce to American culture
  • --Fill in academic gaps
  • Use Variety of Instructional strategies
  • 1-6 semesters based on students needs of
  • ESOL Classes, Pull-out, Push-in, After
  • programs, summer programs, etc.

Challenges to reaching goals
  • to ELLs
  • to teachers
  • Becoming proficient in English while meeting high
    school content graduation requirements
  • Takes 5-7 years to learn basic conversational
  • Takes 7-11 years to learn academic vocabulary
  • Academic vocabulary alone is overwhelming
  • Accommodations will be different than previous
    pedagogical instruction
  • Will take professional development
  • Will need job-embedded practice and time
  • Will need lots of support
  • Will be a slow process

How can this process be speD up?
  • These students need to learn English as quickly
    as possible, and I want to show how teaching
    songs and chants is an excellent strategy for
    teaching new vocabulary, phrases, and sentence
    structures to students of all ages in all content

The research
  • Reasons to justify an increased and systematic
    use of songs and chants
  • Using songs and chants
  • noticeably increases vocabulary bank of lexical
    items and multiword structures
  • includes a range of age appropriate
    sociolinguistic situations (greetings, leave
    takings, requests, basic classroom functions and
    routines, etc.)
  • improves English speech rhythms, intonation and
  • increases memorization of longer word strings
  • allows music and rhythm to dovetail into grammar
    and language activities (fun and creative
    classroom time outside of English time)
  • (Forster 63)

Advice from the Experts
  • Marzano in Building Background Knowledge for
    Academic Achievement Research on What Works in
  • Students should play with words through games,
    songs, poems and other fun activities.
  • Bear et al in Words Their Way with English
  • There is a reciprocal relationship between
    reading and writing development. Reading informs
    writing and writing makes for better readers and
    spellers (4).
  • Forster in The Value of Songs and Chants for
    Young Learners
  • English is a stressed time language meaning some
    syllables are longer than others. This is hard to
    teach children. Chants and songs can help here.
    In chants, only a certain number of words can
    occur in the rhythmic framework. As a stressed
    timed language, only a certain number of
    syllables can fit into a specific time pattern.
    It is useful to teach where the stresses lie in a
    phrase and which syllables or words are
    unstressed (64). (My personal observation- this
    also helps when scanning poetry.)
  • Gill in Teaching Rimes with Shared Reading
  • Shared reading, poems, songs, chants, etc.
    builds students' sight words, vocabulary,
    fluency, and phonics knowledge during an
    enjoyable reading experience.
  • Allen in Real World Approaches to Reading
  • Another effective way to help readers interact
    with text is through the use of poetry and song.
    Poetry and songs are important elements in an
    effective literacy program.

Why music? Enlists both left right brain
  • Left brain
  • Right brain
  • prosody (stress and intonation)
  • musicality
  • rhythm (movement, beat)
  • accent (stress)
  • intonation (pattern of pitch in speech)
  • semantics (meaning)
  • does not analyze relationships between words
  • implicit, unconscious learning
  • learns the entire song but doesnt focus on
    anything in particular
  • Forster (64)
  • most language activity
  • analytical
  • more conscious process of learning
  • attends to a particular aspect of a linguistic

Music Music Music music music music
  • rap
  • Jazz chant
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

With your table, choose a style of music and
write a song on any content area for any grade
level. Be prepared to perform at least a line
or two.
  • Incorporating songs, chants, rap, poetry, choral
    reading, etc. into the classroom improves the
    literacy program by providing the foundation and
    scaffolding students need. They must know the
    vocabulary before they are able to think, speak,
    read or write in their second language. Songs and
    other forms of music are a fun and quicker method
    for learning the language than worksheets and

  • Allen, A. 2011. Real World Approaches to
    Reading. Learn NC. n.d. web. retrieved 6 June,
    2011 lthttp// lp/pages/769gt.
  • Bear, et al. 2007. Words Their Way with English
    Learners. Allyn and Bacon.
  • Cummins, J. 1984. Bilingualism and Special
    Education. Clevedon Multilingual Matters.
  • Cummins, Jim.1979. Linguistic Interdependence and
    the Educational Development of Bilingual Children
    In Review of Educational Research 49 (2).
  • Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., Short, D. 2007. Making
    Content Comprehensible for English Learners The
    SIOP Model (3rd Ed.) Pearson.
  • English Language Learners.2011. Education Week
    15 June. web. retrieved 19 June 2011
  • English Language Learners in Classrooms A Big
    Change for US Schools.2011. letcteachers 3 Feb.
    web. retrieved 15 June 2011 ltletcteachers.wordpres
  • Forster, E. 2006. The Values of Songs and Chants
    for Young Learners. Encentro 16, 63-68. web.
    retrieved 6 June 2011
  • Hart, B., and T.R. Risley. 2003. The Early
    Castrophe The 30 Million Word Gap, American
  • Educator, Spring .
  • Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and Practices in
    Second Language Acquisition. Elmsford, NY
    Pergamon Press, Inc.
  • Marzano, R. J. 2004. Building Background
    Knowledge for Academic Achievement Research on
    What Works in Schools. ACSD.
  • Slavin, R.E., Madden, N., Calderon, M.,
    Chamberlain, A., Hennessy, M. 2010. Reading and
    Language Outcomes of a Five-year Randomized
    Evaluation of Transitional Bilingual Education.
    Baltimore, MD Johns Hopkins University.
  • Zehr, M.A. 2010. Few States Meet NCLB Goals for
    English-Learners, Education Week, 12 May.
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