Volume V - March 1, 2004


Welcome to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for language educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.

For your reading pleasure… or displeasure…

Filed under “D” (for “duh…”)
Report Says Bilingual Approaches Produce Higher Reading Achievement
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 Edweek: http://www.edweek.com/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=21Biling.h23
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, showed that:
- 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 Direct Instruction.
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
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 at: http://www.readingmatrix.com/articles/anderson/article.pdf

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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I hope at least some of today’s references are useful to you. Don’t forget you can consult archived issues of E-Comp! at the website.

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