V - March 1, 2004
to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for language
educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.
For your reading pleasure… or displeasure…
under “D” (for “duh…”)
Report Says Bilingual Approaches Produce Higher Reading
Calling for an end to ideological debates on teaching English language
learners to read, a new report, "Effective Reading Programs
for English Language Learners: A Best-Evidence Synthesis,"
analyzing more than three decades of research finds that bilingual
education programs produce higher levels of student achievement
in reading than English-only approaches for this rapidly growing
population. The analysis was conducted by Robert Slavin of the Johns
Hopkins University and Alan Cheung of the Success for All Foundation.
This is not news, Slavin and co are not the first to report
on this research or reach this conclusion, and there’s little
question but that this is a pretty self serving study considering
their recent hpye around SFA’s “new improved”
bilingual programs. But perhaps any time somebody with a big corporate
hat calls for and end to ideology I should give him 2 points. Only
two. Read it at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-01/jhu-bap012304.php
If you register (free), there’s also an article about it at
And you can read the report at: http://www.csos.jhu.edu/crespar/techReports/Report66.pdf
Moving right along…
Study Suggests Direct Instruction Not Best Way to Teach Reading
University of Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE – A three-year study of methods of teaching reading
shows that highly scripted, teacher-directed methods of teaching
reading were not as effective as traditional methods that allowed
a more flexible approach. The study, headed by Randall Ryder, professor
of curriculum and instruction in the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s
School of Education, also found that teachers felt the most highly
scripted method, known as Direct Instruction (DI), should be used
in limited situations, not as the primary method of teaching students
to read. Urban teachers in particular expressed great concern over
the DI’s lack of sensitivity to issues of poverty, culture
and race. Ryder’s study, completed in the summer of 2003,
- Students who received direct instruction in the first three grades
scored significantly lower on overall reading achievement than students
receiving the more traditional forms of instruction. They also scored
significantly lower on measures of comprehension.
- First graders in the urban school district who received Direct
Instruction scored significantly lower on decoding and comprehension
than students receiving more traditional forms of reading instruction.
These results were consistent across three consecutive school years.
- Overall, students who received more traditional forms of reading
instruction scored significantly greater gains than students receiving
Read more at: http://www.uwm.edu/News/PR/04.01/Reading.html
Good News/Bad News…
Schools Seek Private Firms to Teach Foreign Tongues
New York Times - February 18, 2004
By PATRICIA R. OLSEN
In the last few years, more schools have turned to language instruction
companies for teachers. Berlitz Jr., which started hiring out its
instructors in 1987, now serves more than 100 schools in 20 states
and the District of Columbia. Two other language instruction companies
have contracts with a number of Midwestern schools. Most of the
schools that hire language instructors are private, and tuition
covers the cost. The public schools that hire such instructors pay
for them out of existing funds, or through grants or money raised
by the PTA. Experts cite a dearth of foreign language teachers as
one of the main reasons for these companies' success. According
to a 1998 study financed by the Center for Applied Linguistics,
the number of elementary schools offering foreign languages increased
10% from 1987 to 1997, and the supply of language teachers cannot
meet the demand. "Especially after 9/11, parents are looking
at the curriculum and saying American children should be learning
more foreign languages," said Nancy Rhodes, the center's director.
"It's a grass-roots movement."
Read the whole thing at : http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/18/education/18outsource.html?pagewanted=print&position
The League Of Extraordinary Subtitles
Naeem Mohaiemen, Bright Lights Film Journal
DVD piraters in China create their own subtitles to subversive,
and often hilarious, effect. Scroll down the page at Alternet to
read this amusing account: http://www.alternet.org/movies/
French-American Nursery School
Karen Pelkey reports in the Farmington Valley Post on Chaise-Greenwood
who runs a French-American nursery school out of her basement in
Avon, Connecticut. The project grew out of her unsuccessful efforts
to find a local bilingual French/English educational program for
her daughter. According to Chaise-Greenwood, the school “provides[s]
a fun-loving bilingual environment in which (children) can learn
about the world from two different perspectives."
Read about it at:
Or visit Chaise-Greenwood’s website: http://www.frenchamericannurseryschool.com
Resources you might be interested in….
Submitted by Joe Moore!
A big thank you to Joe Moore, master teacher and one of my favorite
presenters, for these two great resources! He says,
Too tough for my beginning students, but it might be of interest
at upper levels. I really like "La Ciudad Maya.”
My all time favorite site is this one. Dr. Nelson adds to it constantly
and it is wonderful. All very practical and useful activities for
language students and teachers. The grammar activities are great,
but the cultural activities and songs (on the left side of the screen
are awesome. She has way more tech talent than the average teacher.
At the bottom of the page, you'll note the many awards the site
has received. http://www.colby.edu/~bknelson/exercises
Radio Arte Empowers Youth
Dana Williams writes about Radio Arte (WRTE 90.5 FM) in Chicago,
Illinois, which she claims is "the only Spanish-English, Latino-owned
and youth-operated broadcasting station in the country." According
to the author, the radio station is not only about music, but about
specialty programming as well. The station has a two-year training
program that enrolls more than 120 students age 15 to 21 annually.
Read about it at: http://www.tolerance.org/teens/stories/article.jsp?p=0&ar=83
El Rebumbio for Teachers of English
El rebumbio is a website on English teaching, prepared by Sara Martin,
an English teacher in the Canary Islands. It features specific areas
for teachers and students with interactive materials on grammar,
vocabulary, reading, listening and more, links, articles and an
on-line course to integrate computers in the English classroom.
Check it out at: http://www.elrebumbio.org/index2.htm
If you work with Spanish speaking families you might find this Mexican
website useful. It specializes in care and information during pregnancy
and the first months of a baby's life and offers free news bulletins
with orientation materials for parents during the pregnancy or once
the baby is born, on a weekly basis. It has a section for parents
to publish their baby's photos and a consultation service with specialists
in the most diverse topics, such as the ideal weight during pregnancy
to in vitro fertilization. Visit the site at: http://www.babysitio.com/index.html
Online Reading Strategies of Second Language Learners
In the November 2003 issue of The Reading Matrix, Neil Anderson
examines online reading strategies used by second language learners,
as well the differences between the online reading strategies of
ESL readers and those of English-as-a-foreign-language readers.
He presents the top and bottom twelve reading strategies used by
second language learners. Download a PDF version of the article
Using Literature in the Secondary Content Classroom
The International Reading Association has provided chapter 7 of
Judy S. Richardson’s “Read it Aloud--Using Literature
in the Secondary Content Classroom” on its web site. The chapter
discusses how teachers can use literature to assist ESL students
with learning English. You can read the chapter at: http://www.reading.org/store/content/256c7.html
This site provides poetry and stories for children by well known
Spanish language writers such as Gloria Fuertes, Rafael Alberti,
Federico García Lorca and many more. Check it out at:
Strategies and Resources for Mainstream Teachers
of English Language Learners
This is a "hot topics" report from the Northwest Regional
Educational Laboratory. Sections of it provide an overview of second
language acquisition theory; instructional methods and program models;
teaching principles and strategies; and a sample of schools and
programs in the Northwest that are working to raise ELL achievement.
Included is the following list of Ten Things the Mainstream Teacher
Can Do Today To Improve Instruction for ELL Students. It's available
online at NWREL, so you can direct your colleagues to it, or better
yet, download the best bits and stick ‘em in their boxes!
Check it out at: http://www.nwrel.org/request/2003may/textonly.html
Thinking about it…
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Posted Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2004, at 9:26 AM PT
the fear of long words
On the first day of classes, I secretly beg
my students Don't be afraid of me. I know
my last name on your semester schedule
is chopped off or probably misspelled-
or both. I can't help it. I know the panic
of too many consonants rubbed up
against each other, no room for vowels
to fan some air into the room of a box
marked Instructor. You want something
to startle you? Try tapping the ball of roots
of a potted tomato plant into your cupped hand
one spring, only to find a small black toad
who kicks and blinks his cold eye at you,
the sun, a gnat. Be afraid of the X-rays
for your teeth or lung. Pray for no dark spots.
You may have pneumonoultromononucleosis-
coal lung. Be afraid of money spiders
tiptoeing across your face while you sleep
on a sweet, fat couch. But don't be afraid
of me, my last name, what language I speak
or what accent dulls itself on my molars.
I will tell jokes, help you see the gleam
of the beak of a mohawked cockatiel. I will
lecture on luminescent sweeps of ocean, full
of tiny dinoflagellates oozing green light
when disturbed. I promise dark gatherings
of toadfish and comical shrimp just when you think
you are alone, hoping to stay somehow afloat.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of Miracle Fruit, winner of
the 2002 Tupelo
Press Prize. She is assistant professor of English at SUNY-Fredonia.
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