Goal 1, Standard 1
To use English to communicate in social settings: Students will use English to participate in social interactions.
- Sharing and requesting information
- Expressing needs, feelings, and ideas
- Using nonverbal communication in social interactions
- Getting personal needs met
- Engaging in conversations
- Conducting transactions
Sample Progress Indicators
- Obtain, complete, and prepare detailed analyses reports, prepare notes based on a visit to a place of economic or political importance, such as a visit to a manufacturing unit, a visit to a place of historical importance and prepare own notes based on factual descriptions of processes in the unit and to record the place of historical importance from the collected data.
- Express feelings through drama, poetry, or song
- Make an appointment
- Conduct interviews
- Defend and argue a position
- Use prepared notes in an interview or meeting
- Ask peers for their opinions and preferences
- Correspond with penpals, English-speaking acquaintances, friends
- Write personal essays
- Write personal notes
- Write formal reports
- Write factual descriptions
- Make plans for social engagements
- Shop in a supermarket
- Engage listener’s attention verbally or nonverbally
- Volunteer information and respond to questions about self and family
- Elicit information and ask clarification questions
- Clarify and restate information as needed
- Describe feelings and emotions after watching a movie
- Describe events
- Describe chronological evidence
- Indicate interests, opinions, or preferences related to class projects
- Give and ask for permission
- Offer and respond to greetings, compliments, invitations, introductions, and farewells
- Negotiate solutions to problems, interpersonal misunderstandings, and disputes
- Read and write invitations and thank you letters
- Use the telephone
- Grade Level: Eighth grade in a self-contained ESL class
- English Proficiency Level: Middle
- Language of Instruction: English
- Focus of Instruction: Report writing and Note -making
- Location: Urban school district in the East
The following vignette describes an Eighth-grade, self-contained ESL transition class of middle-level students in an Eastern urban school district. The class is composed primarily of non-native English speakers -Spanish-speaking students. The students take a regular English literature class as well as this transitional ESL class. Their instructor is Ms.Brittany, a bilingual Spanish/English-speaking teacher who is a certified instructor in English. It is the middle of the academic year, and the students are trained to hold interviews and engage in discussions, prepare reports of their visit to a manufacturing unit and relate notes of their experiences and provide a detailed analysis of processes explained, experiments done, or record chronologically dates and events based on their visit to a place of historical importance.
During this mid-year project, which lasted for a month, students used various reference books and library books. Journals on manufacturing units and places of historical importance to arrive at the decision to organize themselves into groups wherein one of the groups would conduct a chronological survey of dates and events to visit a place of historical importance. The other groups would gather information on the manufacturing unit and the process to be described in their efforts to comprehend and prepare notes on the manufacturing processes of a certain commodity. In the process, they would also identify their weakness and strength and resort to rectify the same by engaging in one of the groups. Most of the students were quite apprehensive about preparing formal reports and taking down their own notes as they were attuned to the guided composition rather than free composition. A select few discussed their apprehension with their fellow mates in class. A week of persuasion and guidance to the procedures involved saw the reluctant few agreeing to the project proposal. Their co-mates were successful in relating the significance of the visit. They also suggested that meeting officials of another discipline would help the group to prepare their own notes and hold interviews.
After Ms. Brittany and the students in groups of two paid visits to the local cement manufacturing unit and a place of historical importance, respectively, she reviewed the process of report writing as well as note-making with the students. The students sat in two groups and discussed the report and the notes of the places they visited, respectively. Each of the two groups was further divided into smaller groups, with each group engaging in brainstorming sessions and reviewing their visits to the places. Each group had one in charge of assigning work so that the events of the day could be chronologically as well as academically prepared. During the sessions, the students with their group in charge discussed at length the raw materials, the processing units, the machinery involved, and the cost and expenditure were calculated. The other group, meanwhile, held discussions on the historical relevance of the place they visited, its political and economic importance, the values associated with it, and the important events related to the place. As a concluding activity for the day, the instructor asked each student to prepare individual reports and notes on their observations of the visit. The students were also asked to gather information about the relevance of their visit to the place and associate it with a particular chapter of the subject of study. The moral implications of the visit were also asked to be outlined. The next day, the instructor gave suggestions to each group to present their papers. She collected a review paper from each group and then handed over several reports and samples of notes and suggested the students consider one as their model. The students then began to work individually on their own reports and notes.
The next activity for the class focused on the interview that students would hold with the officials concerned in the two places of their visit. The teacher showed the students a video with two sample interviews, and each group of students prepared lists of questions and personal notes to use in mock interviews. The first group came up with some interesting questions. Some of these include: what are the raw materials that you have used to manufacture cement, tell us about the processing unit, what is the expected income generated, how much export is done, are indigenous machinery used. The second group, with their own sets of questions, expressed delight and were excited at the fund of knowledge that they were able to gather about the place. Some of their questions: which king built this palace, in whose memory did he built, how many laborers were involved, where did he procure the raw materials from, how many visitors have visited the place till now, how has the palace contributed to the economy and politics of the country. The groups exchange questions and conduct interviews. The pairs of students take turns as the interviewer and interviewee.
Students are encouraged to:
- indicate interests, opinions, or preferences related to class projects
- write personal essays
- write reports
- write notes
- prepare questionnaires
- obtain, complete, and detailed information on the place of historical importance and the manufacturing unit that they visit.
- hold interviews
- use prepared notes in an interview or meeting
- ask peers for their opinions and preferences
The process of writing a formal report is often confusing and requires an expected level of proficiency from native and non-native English-speaking high school as well as middle school students. Some immigrant students need more support and guidance because their environment in school and at home have restrictions. Since their families are less proficient in the use of the language and the process, the students show signs of inhibition. Some students, even at advanced stages of learning the language, tend to confuse words, do not adhere to logical patterns, and shriek away from using good English. Quite often, inhibition leads to a lack of interest or undesired behavioral pattern. One way to control the heterogeneous group is to break it down into smaller units and allocate small tasks to each member of the group. The group in charge is responsible for individual participation in the respective group, as Ms.Brittany has executed. Demystify the process is to break it down into discrete tasks, as Ms. Rodriguez has done.
During this project, Ms. Brittany encourages her students to practice and apply many of the language activities they have learned over the years in a natural context with real tasks. Several of the planned activities have direct application to social situations in the real world. Students will write reports, prepare notes, hold interviews, arrive at the logical arrangement of ideas, and select the few important notes which have to be noted. They learn the art of selective reading and writing to arrive at a suitable conclusion. They also refer to the dictionary and make use of secondary sources to write down their tasks.
The students take responsibility for most of the work and interact with classmates to accomplish the tasks. They share information orally and in written form; they express ideas and give opinions; they write personal essays on the topics concerned. They also prepare formal reports and note the relevant details about places of visit and manufacturing units. They realize the economic and political importance of the places they have visited. They also ask others for opinions to gather the information they can add to their essays. When a student is uncomfortable with the project, the teacher allows him to discuss the situation and resolve it with his peers. In conducting mock interviews, the students learn the value of being prepared, such as anticipating the questions and taking notes in advance for possible responses.
Ms. Brittany’s conceptualization of her students’ literacy in the second language
From the tasks assigned to the students, Ms.Brittany was able to assess the strengths and potentiality of each student in her class. She realized that non-native speakers of English, after a few rounds of brainstorming sessions and discussions with their peers, appeared to have gained confidence in successfully completing the work.
Through brainstorming sessions and group discussions, the slower learners were able to gather enough information in their respective fields. This also enabled them to interact meaningfully and draw a conclusion based on their own findings.
The instructor provided scope for individual assessment and selection of the material to the two different groups enabled her to arrive at the standard of the heterogeneous group. The tasks were assigned to help the students to relate day-to-day activities with their curriculum. This would remove parrot learning of the language and inculcate the desire to opt for trial and error in language acquisition.
From the desired activities, she concluded that her students were actively involved in language acquisition through direct experience rather than a created one.