National English Language Development Standards
In 1997, in response to the recent standards-based education reform movement, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a national association, published a set of English as a second language (ESL) goals and corresponding standards for the effective education of English learners from pre-K through grade 12. The TESOL vision emphasizes that all education personnel are expected to take responsibility for the education of English learners through the provision of quality and accessible programs (TESOL, 1998).
Eight key principles generated from research and theory pertaining to language learning and language teaching guided the development of the TESOL standards. These principles provide a good introduction to language theory and are summarized here:
- Language is functional.
Oral and written language are means of communication that involve more than simply learning the elements of grammar and vocabulary. English learners need to be able to use their English in a variety of settings as they move toward English proficiency.
- Language varies.
Language is not monolithic, and its variation depends on numerous factors, such as person, topic, purpose, and situation. Regional, social class, and ethnic differences may also impact language varieties.
- Language learning is cultural learning.
Each language reflects the norms, behaviors, and beliefs of a unique culture. Consequently, the learning of a new language also involves the learning of new norms, behaviors, and beliefs.
- Language acquisition is a long-term process.
Each individual moves through specific developmental stages toward English proficiency. Whereas conversational skills may be learned relatively quickly, acquiring the academic language skills to be successful in school may take five to seven years.
- Language acquisition occurs through meaningful use and interaction.
English learners must have numerous opportunities to use English in different social settings and for different purposes.
- Language processes develop interdependently.
Language learning does not always follow a linear progression. The skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing can develop simultaneously and interdependently.
- Native language proficiency contributes to second-language acquisition.
English learners use proficiency in the native language to help in the acquisition of English. Students who have native language literacy already have the basis for developing English literacy.
- Bilingualism is an individual and societal asset.
Having proficiency in more than one language can lead one to greater educational and economic opportunities as well as social mobility.
TESOL proposed the following goals for English language learners: “to use English to communicate in social settings, to use English to achieve academically in all content areas, and to use English in socially and culturally appropriate ways.” TESOL developed standards for multiple grade levels to achieve these goals. You can access the standards at http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=1186&DID=5348
The goals and standards developed by TESOL, considered along with state and local standards, provide teachers with direction and guidance for developing and delivering strong ELD programs and improving student achievement.
© ______ 2010, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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