Principles and Practices to Promote Academic Oral Language Development

10:00 - 10:50am EDT

Room 1032

Presented at: WATESOL 2016

Academic oral language proficiency is a key component of success in schools for ELLs. When giving ELLs opportunities to practice speaking, how can we encourage them to use more academic language? This is a goal shared by teachers and test developers. By carefully developing academic activities, teachers can help students improve their oral language skills.

Many ELLs in K-12 are familiar with the expectation that they should give their answers in a complete sentence. Whether during an assessment or in a classroom discussion, it can be a challenge to encourage them to produce more language beyond that first sentence. To overcome this, there are several key points to consider. The first is the choice of a topic that provides students opportunities to use academic vocabulary. The second is the type of response students are asked to produce. Students are often asked to explain, persuade, or compare in their writing, but these types of activities can be used to practice speaking as well. Finally, the structure of the instructions and prompt play an important role in encouraging students to produce more detailed responses. A test developer from a K-12 assessment of academic language proficiency will review best practices for promoting the use of academic language and guide participants through several activities designed to help them create speaking activities for their classrooms.

The session will include hands-on activities with resources for teachers to use in their own classrooms. Using content standards and language standards as a starting point, our goal will be to create speaking prompts that are appropriate for students at a variety of proficiency levels, that give students a clear idea of how to respond, and that encourage students to say as much as they can.