District Administration July 2018 - 76

ProfessionalOpinion

1. Attention to vocabulary. With
both text and speech, content is
comprehensible when students can
understand at least 85 to 90 percent
of the words used. This requires careful attention to the vocabulary used as
well as to the supports students have
available.
2. Context-rich instruction.
Context-rich instruction broadens
comprehensibility by offering multiple ways to understand the meaning
of a word or concept.
If text initially proves incomprehensible, an image can provide the
context essential to understanding it.
If an image still isn't enough, a
relevant example, interactive simulation or alternative explanation can all
increase a student's understanding of
the word or concept.
3. Literary scaffolds. Specific literary scaffolds are essential to closing
the comprehensibility gap.
This means including structured
reading activities, guided notes, audio
support, dictionaries, native language
translations and active reading strategies, among others.
These supports are particularly important for emerging language learners, who more frequently recognize
fewer than 85 percent of the words
used during instruction.
Leverage direct instruction for
academic vocabulary
Direct instruction is essential to learning academic vocabulary as definitions
are often too technical or abstract to
learn through context alone.
For English language learners,
effective direct instruction requires
something more than a dictionary.
A combination of accessible definitions, contextualized reinforcement
and explicit review provides English

76 July 2018

English language
learners absorb the
vast majority of new
words through context
and only a small
number through direct
translation instruction.
language learners with the clarity and
exposure they need to retain academic
vocabulary.
With that in mind, effective interactive instruction strategies include:
* coming up with student-friendly
definitions
* visual aids
* examples of using the words in a
familiar context
* asking questions to help students
think critically about the meaning of
the words
* opportunities to compare and
contrast words and repetition to
reinforce the target words.
Cement mastery through output
Practicing vocabulary words is just as
important-if not more so-as learning them, and English language learners cement mastery through regular,
varied usage.
This output is most effective when
it includes matching exercises, short
answers, essays and discussions.
A balance of output facilitates
syntactic processing, productive experimentation and the automatization
of skills. Output also provides the
opportunity for important feedback,
which creates a natural mechanism for
English language learners to validate,
revise and reinforce their understand-

ing through trial and error.
Many English language learners
require additional support to generate
grade-level responses-particularly
for short answers, discussions, essays,
reports and other open responses.
These supports can include controlled release, guided examples
and scaffolded writing assignments,
among others.
Seizing the opportunity
These strategies outline the path to
highly effective ELL instruction.
Given the diverse backgrounds of
our students, it often takes many of
them more than four years to graduate from high school. But, ultimately,
about 85 percent of our students do
eventually graduate.
This can be a challenging, timeconsuming task, but we believe that
other districts, by combining these
best practices, have an opportunity to
build English language learners' fluency and subject-level mastery simultaneously.
Doing this well provides these new
English language learners with the
foundation they need to excel both in
school and beyond, while also increasing district performance and community standing. DA
Ramon Namnun is principal of the
High School of World Cultures, one of
three schools housed in the James Monroe
Educational Complex in the Bronx,
offering instruction for new arrival students
within New York City Public Schools.
District Administration welcomes the
insights and opinions of educators and
administrators on all topics. If you would
like to contribute or respond to a guest
column, please contact Tim Goral at
tgoral@lrp.com.

District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration July 2018

District Administration July 2018 - 1
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