Science for Emergent Bilinguals Part 2

Science teachers can easily incorporate differentiated language acquisition strategies into their lessons, especially when using Inquiry-Based Learning.  Inquiry-Based Learning models have students look closely at concepts, moving from the concrete to the abstract.  This natural scaffold allows students to construct new knowledge in both content and language. The five E’s of Inquiry-Based Instruction are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. Below, you will find some language strategies that will help you navigate the third step of the 5 E’s of Inquiry-Based Learning.

Explain  

Students at this stage receive guidance to articulate their expanded scientific understanding.  Teachers, now more than at any other stage of inquiry, must provide support for attaining and using academic language in science.  This includes extra support in learning both the academic vocabulary and the language structure needed to communicate learning (Beltran et. al, 2013).

Language Acquisiton Strategies:

  1. Use comprehensible input such as the use of visuals, printed materials, physical movement and realia to build content-related vocabulary.  Remember that students need exposure to vocabulary words at least four times (Nagy & Scott, 2007) and the opportunity to connect words with previous learning, other words, and/or visual representations in order to internalize meanings (Mudambi, 2013 & 2015). 
  2. Provide “focused, explicit language instruction” including sentence stems and graphic organizers to help students explain their learning (Beltran el. al, 2013).
  3. Integrate literacy instruction to provide modeling of academic language.
  4. Allow students the opportunity to engage in think-pair-share.  This allows students to clarify misunderstandings and build academic language in a less threatening context.

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