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English Language Learners (ELL) in the Mainstream

Part Two: The Theory of Second Language Acquisition

Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE)

Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy

CREDE, based at the University of California in Santa Cruz has developed pragmatic guidelines, for the instruction of English Language Learners. The Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy, provide clear guidelines for effective teaching practice. The standards are designed to help teachers build lessons that facilitate the development of both language and academic skills. See video clips of the Five Standards in action.

The five standards are:

  1. Joint Productive Activity: Teacher and Students Producing Together
  2. Language Development: Developing Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum
  3. Contextualization: Making Meaning: Connecting School to Students' Lives
  4. Challenging Activities: Teaching Complex Thinking
  5. Instructional Conversation: Teaching Through Conversation

Effective classroom implementation of the standards is vital. What follows are brief descriptive statements about each standard. For a more comprehensive view of each standard and a rubric, which can be used for self-evaluation and for preparation of assignment two, go to the CREDE Rubric for Observing Classroom Enactments of CREDE’s Standards for Effective Pedagogy.

  1. Joint Productive Activity
    • Occurs when experts [teachers] and novices [students] collaborate to produce a common product or work toward a common goal.
    • Allows for instructional conversation, which facilitates language development. Joint Productive Activity means that teachers are teaching meaning in a content context.
    • Permits students to work together in various group configurations.
    • Facilitates collaborations in planning, access and the use of materials and technology [teacher-student; student-student].
  2. Language Development
    • Develop and enhance language at all levels [e.g., informal, problem solving and academic] through focused, deliberate language, not decontextualized [see Cummins "Student Support Schema"] memorization of rules, drills or discrete point instructional materials.
    • Build school knowledge through every day social language, formal academic language and through the development of subject matter lexicons.
    • Facilitate oral and written language development through modeling, use of probing questions [see Questioning Techniques] to encourage students' use of content vocabulary.
    • Interact with students in culturally sensitive ways [e.g., use of wait time, eye contact, proxemics].
    • Encourage students to "tap into" first language to support comprehension of English cognates.
  3. Contextualization
    • Makes learning meaningful through connections made between school and students' home lives, experiences, skills.
    • Taps into students' fund of knowledge and first language skills to facilitate new learning.
    • Requires that teachers plan with students to:
      1. design learning activities
      2. involve parents and/or families in instructional activities
      3. help students link new learning to self, previous learning and world knowledge
  4. Challenging Activities
    • Create cognitively complex activities that explore the content curriculum [at students' current level of English language development].
    • Develop lessons which require students to think, interpret and analyze content.
    • Avoid rote, repetitive, decontextualized, discrete-point drills.
    • Incorporate factual learning [e.g., phonics, multiplication tables, grammar and/or spelling rules] into exploratory and problem-based learning activities and projects.
    • Build upon previously successful learning [see glossary, "Comprehensible Input, the "I + 1"].
  5. Instructional Conversation
    • Teaches through content conversations, rather than lecture or recitation.
    • Helps to individualize instruction.
    • Facilitates joint productive activity.
    • Creates an atmosphere of equality and responsiveness.
    • Creates a community of learners.