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ECIS-ESL conference Düsseldorf 2011

This page is a brief overview of the most relevant issues covered at the ECIS-ESL conference in Düsseldorf 2011. Each introductory paragraph is followed by a link to more detailed information and advice about the issue in question.

The importance of affirming student identities

Students are happier and more successful in schools that affirm their linguistic and cultural identities. This affirmation needs to go beyond tokenism such as putting up non-English signs and the occasional celebration of ethnic food or dance. It is helpful if teachers are aware of the more hidden aspects of the cultures of the students they teach. [More] [More]

The importance of the mother tongue

Use of the mother tongue - for in-class comprehension or discussion, in the acquisition of background knowledge or through reading in general -  has a positive influence not only on the learning of subject content and skills but also on the rate of English language development. [More]

The importance of a strong academic vocabulary

All teachers teach the specialist language of their subject (hypotenuse, precipitation, macroeconomics, etc.). But also critical to academic success is the development of a strong general academic vocabulary. Teachers can play a part in helping ESL students acquire this vocabulary too. [More]

The importance of reading

The importance of reading in the acquisition of content and vocabulary is well-known. But extensive reading in subject genres also helps ESL students acquire implicit knowledge of how to write well in those subjects. [More]

The importance of models

ESL students can be spared a great deal of unnecessary uncertainty (and often a waste of time and energy) if they can see the expected outcome of an assignment (usually a written assignment, but also an oral presentation or larger project) before they embark on it. Knowing what they have to do allows them to focus their attention on how to do it.  [More]

The importance of time and patience

Some teachers may underestimate the nature of the task ESL students have: learning new content in a new language. It takes about 5-7 years for a non-native speaker to become peer-competitive in English. Both teachers and parents can relieve unnecessary pressure if they show patience and understanding during this hugely challenging process. [More]

The importance of scaffolding

ESL students are cognitively as capable as native speakers but need extra support from the teacher in both understanding and accomplishing class and home assignments. [More]

The importance of comprehensible input

Comprehensible input is the term coined by Stephen Krashen. Without comprehensible input ESL students will learn neither subject content nor English. With comprehensible input they will do both. [More]

The importance of assessing task difficulty

Realistic expectations of ESL student performance in the various assignments they are set depend on an accurate assessment of the difficulty of those assignments. Cummins provides a model that allows teachers to determine the difficulty of a task according to the intersection of its cognitive and linguistic demands. [More]

Frankfurt International School: Art and artists. (Click to see at full size.)