In this tutorial, we'll learn about the benefits and challenges of using adaptive learning with students who are English language learners. We'll begin with a discussion of some of the unique needs of English language learners. We'll identify some of the challenges that these students face and we'll explore how adaptive learning can support them in the classroom. Finally, we'll share a few resources that teachers and families might find helpful. Let's get started.
What are some of the unique needs of English language learners? First, recall that an English language learner is a student whose first language is one other than English. This student population is one of the fastest-growing in all of K-12 education. English language learners make up somewhere between 10% and 20% of all K-12 students.
You'll find that English language learners come to your classroom with varying levels of both English proficiency and content knowledge. They come from a variety of socioeconomic statuses and may have vastly-differing cultural expectations for schooling. In fact, some English language learners have little or no formal schooling experience before entering the United States school system. ELL students face a variety of challenges in school.
The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress indicated that only 4% of eighth grade ELL students were proficient in reading, compared to 31% of the general eighth grade population. This could be because reading presents a great number of challenges, including unfamiliar vocabulary, grammar rules, sentence structure, and word order that are all different from those of the students' first language. And literary terms and devices that may be unfamiliar as well.
Math presents its own unique challenges-- symbols that are used may be different. For example, some cultures use a comma instead of a decimal point when writing numbers. Students coming from other countries will likely be familiar with the metric system of measurement instead of the standard measurement system that is used here in the United States. And there may be math curriculum differences as well. In many other countries, math is experienced as rote practice instead of the more problem-based methods that are used here in the United States.
So how can adaptive learning technologies support our English language learners? One clear benefit is that many adaptive learning technologies have a wealth of resources that don't rely heavily on text. Resources such as images and videos may help eliminate the stress of attempting to decode and understand text to get through the lesson. This allows students to focus their thinking on meaning and comprehension.
Also, since each English language learner comes to us with varying levels of proficiency, adaptive learning can help to develop a unique pathway for each student as they develop their language and vocabulary skills. This may help them to progress more quickly in their language acquisition and to reduce frustration. It's also important to note that adaptive learning built on a student's unique prior knowledge. As the software meets the student at his or her own level and then builds on those skills, the connection to the knowledge that the student already possesses makes new learning more meaningful and can also help to make connections between the vocabulary in students' first language and vocabulary in English.
Here are a few resources that ELL teachers and families might find helpful. First, the Can Do Statements at wida.us can be shared with general education teachers to help them appropriately differentiate instruction for English language learners. And ColirinColorado is another website that features lots of resources for teachers and ELL families.
In this tutorial, we learned about the benefits and challenges of using adaptive learning with English language learners. We began by identifying some of the unique needs of English language learners, including some of the challenges that these students face. We then explored how adaptive learning might support them in the classroom and we shared a few resources for ELL teachers and families. Now is a great time for you to stop and reflect.
If you teach English language learners, might adaptive learning technologies help them to make progress in your classroom? To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.
(00:00 - 00:29) Introduction
(00:30 - 01:11) Unique Needs of ELL Students
(01:12 - 02:17) Challenges that ELL Students Face
(02:18 - 03:26) Adaptive Learning with ELL Students
(03:27 - 03:51) Resources for Teachers and Families
(03:52 - 04:16) Review
(04:17 - 04:46) Stop and Reflect
Engaging English Language Learners with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education
This article suggests that teachers and students view the world differently. As a result, there is frequently a disconnect that gets in the way of learning. The authors suggest the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP) as a framework
for using the students' way of understanding to access new learning and understanding.
Adaptive Learning in ELT: A Mismeasure of language
This particular blog entry provides a comprehensive overview of using adaptive learning with English Language Learners from the perspective of a practitioner. Throughout the blog, the practitioner reviews several adaptive learning platforms (with screenshots) for use with English Language Learners. The practitioner offers strong cautions about how these programs should be used with students.