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Beyond Language: The Many Dimensions of an ESL Program Author(s): Gisela Ernst Source: Anthropology & Education Quarterly,

Vol. 25, No. 3, Alternative Visions of Schooling: Success Stories in Minority Settings, (Sep., 1994), pp. 317-335 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3195849 Accessed: 17/08/2008 04:30
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Beyond Language: The Many Dimensions of an ESL Program


GISELAERNST

Collegeof Education WashingtonState University This ethnographic (ESL) study investigatedone English-as-a-second-language programfor elementarystudents with as many as 20 native languages represented. The article outlines differentdimensionsof this languageprogramthat students learninghow to succeedin schools. areconduciveto language-minority Segmentsof conversationsand narrativevignettes collectedduring a year-long ethnographic study illustratethe pedagogicalassumptions,instructionalgoals, and organizational arrangements of this ESLprogram.ESL,LANGUAGE-MINORITY STUDENTS, CLASSROOM TALK In the past decade, classrooms across the United States have radically changed. The influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, Arabic nations, and, most recently, Russia have painted our classrooms with new multicultural tones. Schools are challenged with having to provide more and improved services for this increasing sector of the population. Yet, the lack of studies addressing the needs of language-minority students (Ellis 1984; Hakuta 1986; Wong-Fillmore and Valadez 1986),' the absence of organizational and programmatic guidelines (Crawford 1989), the inadequacy of assessment procedures (Cummins 1982, 1984; Flores et al. 1991; Mehan 1981), the stubborn persistence of teaching methods that focus on separate language skills (Cummins 1986; Edelsky 1986), the pervasive utilization of teacher-centered classrooms (Chaudron 1988; Long and Porter 1985; Mehan 1979; Nunan 1989), the recurring implementation of a transmission model (Barnes 1976; Cummins 1986; Freire 1970), and the use and abuse of repetitive skill-based exercises and worksheets (Allen 1989; Flores et al. 1991) all have posed serious problems to the already difficult quest of improving educational services for ESL students. The widespread school failure among students for whom English is not a first language is still persistent, and the overrepresentation of these students in classes for the learning disabled is evident throughout the United States (Cummins 1984, 1986; Ortiz and Yates 1983; Padilla et al. 1991). There are, however, many isolated examples of programs in which students, against all odds, are not failing (Lucas et al. 1990; Ramirez et al. 1991; Suarez-Orozco 1991). Thus, it becomes clear that a
Anthropology & Education Quarterly 25(3):317-335. Copyright ? 1994, American Association. Anthropological 317

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starting point in improving educational programs for students of diverse linguistic and culturalbackgroundsis to explore particulartraits of successfulprograms.And this is what this articleattempts to do. Thisarticleaddressesthe issue of the traitsof successfulESLprograms by focusing in depth on one elementaryESLprogram-an analysis of what works and the reasonsforcertainprogramelements'effectiveness. Studentsare exited from the programby the third year and are placed in mainstream classrooms. By the fourth year students are, on the average,among the top third in their classrooms,with several of them making the honor roll. Conversationalsegments, narrativevignettes, and descriptiveaccountsof selectedphysical,instructional,and interactionalfeaturesof this programwill aid in the explorationof five program components that support students learning a second language and learninghow to succeed in a new school system.2 ResearchMethodology The study reportedhereis partof a largerstudy (Ernst1991)in which data were gathered during one school year, through participant-observation; examinationof students' work; and audio- and videotaping of students' interactionsin differentschool settings (i.e., ESLclassrooms, cafeteria, homeroom classrooms). Fieldnotes, transcriptionsof interviews, audio- and videotapes,maps, and other records (i.e., schedules, students'work and files) constitutethe bulk of the data. Based on the analysis of macrofeatures, everyday events in the conversationalESLclassroom(e.g., writing, story reading,discussion,talking circle)were identifiedand videotaped. Microanalysisof videotapes was grounded in recentwork in the analysis of face-to-faceinteraction (Bloome 1987;Cazden 1988;Cazden and Mehan 1989;Erickson1987; Trueba Green1983;Greenand Wallat1981;Gumperz1982;Philips 1983; et al. 1981;Weade and Green 1989).The system provided a principled approach for freezing, reconstructing,and analyzing students' and teachers'interactionswithin the ESLclassroom. The Social Context Arthur Elementary School, located in an economically depressed neighborhoodin a midsized city in Florida,houses one of the two ESL Eachyear,of the 600to 650students elementaryprogramsin the district.3 enrolled in the school, approximately70 to 85 attend the ESLprogram. The ESLprogramis housed in two classrooms.While the focus in one classroom is on conversationalEnglish (ESL1), the focus in the other classroomis on contentareainstruction(ESL2). Arthur'sESLprogram uses a pullout model. Thatis, studentsat all grade levels receiveinstruction in English from regularclassroomteachers,and support and individualized instructionin the contentareasfromthe ESLstaff.Everyday, most of the students enrolled in the program spend three 45-minute

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periodsin theirESLclassrooms.Instructionin all classroomstakesplace in English.


Participants

Staff. The ESLstaff consists of a program coordinatorwho is also the conversational ESL teacher, three content-area ESL teachers, and a half-time teaching aide. Two of the teachers,although "Grandma," fluent in English,are nonnative English speakers;one teacheris monolingual (English), and the program coordinator is a native English speaker, fluent in Spanish. Two teachers are full-time and two are part-time. In addition to the staff, the ESLprogram works closely with a local senior citizen center.Severalmembers of this centerare regularvolunteers in the ESL program. These "Grandmas" and "Grandpas" come once a week, at differenttimes, to work with students on a individualized basis. The advantages of this partnershipare multiple. First, for most students,having a venerablefigure aroundis importantsince they left theirgrandparentsin their respective home countries.Second, students benefit from having individualized attentionand instruction.In addition,participatingsenior citizens, ESLteachers,and school staff all feel thattheirexperiencesin the school areenhanceddue to this arrangement. As one Grandpatestified, "Everyweek I look forwardto coming to this class. Even when I wake up and my knees and backare hurting, I still want to come. By the time I get here and see these kids and see these faces,I feel great." Students. Duringthe 1989-90school year, 82 studentsfrom30 different countries, speaking 20 different languages, were enrolled in the ESL program. Although most of these students have been in the United Statesforone year, thereare some who have recentlyarrivedand others who are completing their second year. Students in this program have varied educationaland socioeconomicbackgrounds.Some are children of students in a nearbyuniversity, some have fled theirhome countries with part of their families as war refugees, and some emigrated with parentsand siblings in hopes of finding betterjobs or education.These students spoke at home one of the following 20 languages:Spanish(23), Chinese (14),Korean(10), Portuguese (8), Vietnamese(4), Croatian(3), Arabic(2),Hungarian(2),Polish (2),Sinhala(2),German(2),Lao(2),and eight otherlanguagegroups representedby a single student:Chichewa, Farsi,Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian,Luvenda,Russian,and Tagalog.
A Day in the SchoolLife of an ESL Student

In the processof learninga second language,ESLstudents must keep up with a demanding programof studies. In addition to, and as a result of, theirlinguisticand academictasks,ESLstudentsmust also learnhow to function around a very complex timetable. Becauseeach ESLchild

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comes to Arthur with a unique set of characteristics and needs (e.g., English-language proficiency level, literacy development, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, schooling experiences), an individualized program of activities is tailored by the ESL staff for each new student. For a new ESL student this individualized timetable, although designed to provide support in required areas, can in effect add more pressure and complexity to an already busy set of tasks. Further, it can lead to feelings of marginalization and neglect, because in fact, with the exception of the ESL staff and the student, no one else in the school is able to keep up with the constant changes sustained by students' individual schedules. Hyun-Tae, a fifth-grade Korean student completing his second year in the United States, reflects on his initial troublesome experience of learning when, and how, to go from one classroom to another: Yeah, it was like, wow, all messy. Sometimes I really forgot about those differenttimes and, when I first got here, didn't even know those words; I only knew words like hi and hello.If I forgot something, I just sat there and someone in the ESLhad to come and get me.4 But once Hyun-Tae learned his schedule and how to move throughout the different events of everyday life at Arthur, this is how he described a "typical day" in school: At 7:05I wait for the bus at the village, I ride bus number8, and I directlygo to the media center-I mean, to the cafetorium-to eat breakfast.And then I go to my post because I am a patrol until 8 o'clock, and then I go to my classroom,do spelling, and then at 9 o'clockI go to ESL.Well, on Wednesday I have to go to ESL,on ThursdayI have to go to art club at 9:40afterreading, and every day I have to go to some place like Spanish,computer,PE,at 9:40, but ThursdayI don't until 10:00o'clock.Like,PEon Tuesdaysand Thursdays, go becauseI have art club.I have lunch at 11:47every day and it ends at 12:21. Well,on Mondays,Tuesdays,and Fridays,I go and Thursdaystoo I go to ESL formaybe [one period] to Mrs.Seleca'sclass. And afterthatI have to go to my post again in the afternoon,and then I go back to my home with the bus. I usuallyhave to do math fastbecause,people in my classroom,they do it from 1 o'clock 'til the end of the school, and I have to go to ESLuntil 1:30;so I couldn'tdo it [otherwise].I only have, like, 15 minutes to do it; I have to do it fast. Hyun-Tae's account graphically describes some of the complexity of his life as an ESL student in a North American school. The point here is not that Arthur's ESLprogram organizes ESL students' learning experiences around exhausting timetables-although that may be the case. Rather, that in order to understand the academic, social, and emotional challenges encountered by these students, we need to look at the whole ensemble of experiences.

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Five Basic Components of Arthur'sElementaryESLProgram One importantaspect of Arthur's ESL program is its multidimensional character.In order to address the multiple needs of its student population, Arthur's ESL program has five basic components: (1) a constructedcurriculumthat incorporatesstudents' languages and cultures; (2) an orientationprogram to help new students, their parents, and the staff who will be working with the newly arrivedstudents; (3) a monitoring procedure that begins with the assessment of a newly arrived student and continues even after the student has exited the program;(4) a language component in which the main goal is to adda second languageto students'linguisticrepertoireand not to replace their native language with English; and (5) a content-areacomponent that mainly targetsthe specificneeds of students in readingand math.While each of these components fulfills a specific set of needs, they are not independent entities. Rather, they are integrated and interrelateddimensions of one programthat, for heuristicpurposes, are presented as separate parts.In order to explore what a flexible, tailor-madesecondlanguage programmight look like, a discussion of five importantcomponents of the ArthurelementaryESLprogram follows. A Constructed Curriculum ThatIncorporates Students' and Languages Cultures The ArthurESLprogramis exemplaryin its promotionof a learning community that allows students to integrate their backgrounds,interests, strengths,and prior knowledge of language with sound strategies that promote second-language and literacy development. Several assumptions held by ESL teachers at Arthur underlie the constructed natureof instructional activitiesin thisESLprogram.Theseassumptions a framework for understanding the instructionalgoals and provide organizationalarrangementsof this ESLprogram.5 on Students' Focusing Strengths. In orderto enhancethe schoolingexperiences of all students, ESL teachers at Arthur take into account what students bringwith them. Arthurteachersacknowledgethatthe culture and language of children's homes have major effects on their world views, and thus they create opportunities for students to perceive the significanceof what they have and know with what their new school, language, and cultureoffers them. and Sharinga Classroom Culture. ESLteachers at Arthur Constructing believe that reading a story, taking a field trip, sharing an account, or viewing a film allows ESLstudents, who do not come to school with a set of joint encounters,to experience a sense of shared culture. When students can participatein the discussion because they have just acquired the backgroundknowledge and the necessaryvocabulary,their sense of competenceand their desire to communicateincreases.

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Focus. In this program,well-selected themes are used Usinga Thematic as overall conceptsaroundwhich differentsubjectsareasare integrated and differentmaterials,resources,and activitiesare utilized. The use of thematicunits allow teachersto draw on their language-minoritystudents' backgrounds,interests,and strengthssince topics and activities can be negotiated. In addition, theme-basedcollaborativeprojectsare excellent ways to motivate students, gain their attention,and involve them in a varietyof interactiveactivities.As a result,students at Arthur work together on projectsthat naturallypromote the use of both oral and written language to question, discuss, inform, negotiate, and communicatewith others. TalkandInteraction.ESLteachersat Arthurbelieve that talk Promoting and interactionare of prime importancefor working toward an understanding of new concepts and as a basis for learning through the other language modes of reading and writing. These teachers'efforts center around constructinginteractiveenvironmentsthat afford students opportunitiesto talk and listen to each other (not only to the teacher)and work on activitiesthatinvolve readingand writing (not only theirown). Such language-richcontexts have high potential as realistic starting points for learningEnglishas a secondlanguageand for learningin, and about, schools.
An OrientationProgram

Whenstudentsfirstarriveat Arthur,they takea "guidedtour"to learn the locationof buildings and classroomsand to meet teachersand staff. In addition, they receive some basic information about school rules, regulations,and expectations.Initial "survival"tours are given by ESL teachers at the beginning of the school year or by "experienced"ESL students throughoutthe year. Parents also participatein an orientationprogram.Often, teachers, teaching aides, or volunteers serve as guides for new parents and provide informationabout the school and ESLprogram-services and options offered by the district,daily routinesin the classroom,and the role thatparentsare encouragedto play.Sincesome studentscome from places where schooling experiencesare very differentfrom those in the United States, a grand tour of the school allows parents to become familiarwith differentsettings (e.g., classrooms,lunchroom,bus stop), staff members(principal,teachers,aides),and selected procedures(e.g., testing, homework,scheduling). But an orientation program is not complete unless it is a two-way as they give (Handscombe street,with staffgainingas muchinformation 1989).As explained in the following section, in this program,teachers and other staff members systematicallyrequest informationfrom parents about their child's language, culture, schooling experiences, and expectations.This is precisely where ESLteachersfunctionas liaisons,

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as mediators between the new student and the content-area teachers, between the parents and the school system, and between the student's culture and that of the school. A Monitoring Procedure Assessing ESL students at Arthur might be thought of as a continuum from the informal on one end to the formal on the other. Informal assessment refers to the continual data-gathering process through observations and interactions with students in many different school settings. Formalassessment, on the other hand, refers to the traditional tests and standardized measures required by the school district. ESL teachers at Arthur mostly assess their students through multiple measures and observations; however, they also have to deal with formal testing and evaluation procedures. One main problem that arises by using standardized measures in the assessment of culturally and linguistically different students is that test scores are often interpreted without considering student performance within the context of culture, language, home, and community environments (Cummins 1982). As a result, not only is there a greater probability of inappropriate placements, but instructional recommendations may be tainted with a misperception of what the problem is, as well as how it might be corrected. The above concerns are shared by the ESL teachers at Arthur. During formal and informal meetings these teachers continually discuss inherent shortcomings of the procedures used in assessing their students, share "horror stories" about how students are misplaced, and argue for the use of methods of informal assessment. Bearing in mind the myriad of issues involved in the assessment of ESL students, the following section presents an overview of the current monitoring procedures at Arthur's ESL program. Entry Criteria. All students entering Arthur for the first time are required to complete a Student Survey for Language Information (SSIL), the Dade County Test of Aural Comprehension, used as a measure of aural language proficiency, and The Arlington County Oral Proficiency Test, used as a measure for oral proficiency. Other criteria are considered in the district's plan: a subjective analysis of the child by the test administrator, the language environment of the home, and whether other siblings are in the ESL program. Some teachers think these measures are not always adequate or reliable when assessing ESL elementary students. For instance, one ESL teacher shared her concerns about giving several tests to recently arrived non-English-speaking elementary students: Testinglittlekids is not easy;you know, they get frightened.It'ssad and takes lots of time,lots of time. It takesforeverto get the results,and sometimesthey are [not useful].It's hard to test these little kids, and I don't always trusttheir

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results.Therearesome testsout there,they-Hmm.... Yeah,I thinkit isbetter to let the child come to the programand observehim, see what happens,and ask and talkwith his homeroomteacher. After the initial assessment of newly arrived students done at the district office, ESL teachers at Arthur seek opportunities to assess students in their native language to determine the levels of language and academic functioning and to obtain thorough histories about their students. From this point onward, ESL teachers will keep monitoring their students even after they are exited from the program. This way of assessing and tracking students' development is an integral part of the ESL program. As explained by the ESL program coordinator, the purpose of this monitoring procedure is twofold: first, to become more knowledgeable about what students learn and how they learn, and second, to gather data over time as the basis for decision making about students' growth, planning instruction, and placement recommendations. Exit Criteria. The same instruments used for placement purposes are used for exiting students from the ESL program. But ESLteachers do not necessarily rely exclusively on test results to exit a student. Sometimes, as expressed by one of the ESL teachers, tests are administered "because you need a number in the student's file," and not because teachers find it necessary to assess students' progress. Some teachers, like the ESL program coordinator, have no doubts that informal assessment by classroom teachers can provide reliable measures: Youknow when kids areready.You don't have to give thema testor evaluate theirEnglish;you just have to listen to what they say when kids are ready to go. I don't know that I have ever released a kid that I knew was not ready, and partof what they do is eithertell you the same storybecausethey picked it up entirely from their classroom teacher;or the other thing is they start Do I have to come today?My class is doing asking:Do I have to come to ESL? such and such;I don't want to come any more. And at firstI was crushed ... my ego was just crushed. Ms. Seleca's belief that there might be other ways of assessing students' progress, especially in language-related areas, is not unusual. In the past decade there has been a resurgence of literature suggesting that methods of informal assessment should be gathered for final interpretation, placement, and recommendation procedures. This body of literature does not suggest that standardized instruments be eliminated completely but rather that informal procedures be used to augment data gained through the use of tests (Cummins 1984; McLaughlin 1982; Padilla et al. 1991). These authors assert that traditional assessment procedures, which rely on standardized tests, often misidentify culturally and linguistically different students as learning disabled. Because the vast majority of tests are not designed to evaluate whether low

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performance is due to sociocultural factors or disability, ESL students are overwhelmingly misplaced in "special" classrooms. The dangers of labeling ESL students as learning-disabled or as low achievers, through use of formal assessment procedures that are external to the child and classroom, is clearly illustrated in Ms. Seleca's recount of Bouzid's case: classroomand has been lost for two weeks. Bouzid is sitting in a third-grade He came two weeks ago, and he was the one that Kay, the speech teacher, [brought]in, saying that he was going to be put in a special school, and [we] found out that English was his second language. But because all the papers came from London, the secretaryat the county office wrote English as his native language.Well then I talkedto the psychologist who tested him. All of this was happening on Friday .... And then on Monday the school psychologist from[thespecialschool]was calledover to test the childand she did some nonverbalWISCtesting and talkedto Kay,and she had not even heardabout an ESLprogram,didn't know there was one in the county, had no idea there was one at Arthur.Our guidancecounselorhad broughtit to the attentionof the psychologist.So it was ratherweird. But aftershe found out therewas an ESLprogram,she agreed with Kay ... to put this child in ESE[Exceptional StudentEducation]in our school,combinedwith ESL.So the school psychologist thought that was good. So then next day I was back in the office, and I saw the school psychologist coming out with Bouzid again and she said she was called back to do furthertesting. I was thinking when are they going to come out with the results and with a placementfor this student?So I tested him during my lunchtime.He scored 13 out of 22 and 10 out of 16, and our kids score perfect when they exit the programor maybe 20 out of 22. So he looks like he is right in the middle of some proficiencycontinual.So then, of course,when I was [testing]him, I thoughtwhy do I have to wait to staffhim in my program while they are waiting for some kind of decision. So I am pickinghim up tomorrowat 8:15,and I am going to try to hold him so he can work with the second group.WhenI went to his classroom,the teachers-she was, "Oh,thankGod." Because of the pervasive emergence of this type of problem when assessing ESL students, it is not surprising that the ESL staff at Arthur have mixed feelings when they have to send one of their students for psychological assessment. But Ms. Seleca and her team of ESL teachers are not alone when facing this type of dilemma. In a thorough study, in which psychological assessments of over 400 minority language students were analyzed, Cummins found that bilingual and ESL teachers were reluctant to send their students to the psychologist (1982). Even though these teachers suspected that some of their students were having learning disabilities and could benefit from appropriate diagnosis and remediation, they refused to send students for psychological assessment. In Cummins's words, "the teachers know that the students will return with a permanent label and a one-way ticket to a monolingual English special education class" (1982:1). Placements. The ESL staff at Arthur makes exceptional efforts in organizing each student's schedule so that ESL classes would not interfere

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in the full academiclife of the school. In with the students'participation order to support students'academic,social, and emotionalexperiences in the school, placement decisions are made taking into account the following factors:English-language proficiency level, literacy skills, language background,special needs (i.e., a student experiencingdiffiand schedule culty during the initialadjustingperiod, exceptionalities), In order to content articulation with other areas). (i.e., requirements ensure that these multiple issues are addressed, ESLteachersat Arthur conformto the following procedures: ? With the help of school personnel or translators,teachersobtained thoroughhistoriesabout students and families. * Students were assessed in multiple settings and through multiple measures. instruments * Continualobservation,interaction,and record-keeping of anecdotal checklists, records, profiles, samples students' (e.g., work, mainstreamteachers'comments) provided reliablemeasures of students'progress. * Frequentinteractionswith parents, older siblings, and mainstream teachersaided ESLteachersin theirdecisions.
A LanguageProgram

One of the mainobjectivesof the conversationalcomponentof the ESL programat ArthurElementaryis to provide opportunitiesfor learners to interactin English.When asked about the main goals for this class, Ms. Seleca,the programcoordinatorand teacher,answered, "To help kids learnEnglish,to encouragethem to talk to communicateas much, to communicatewith others. In their classrooms, poor guys, in their classrooms they are quiet all the time." Furthercomments from Ms. Seleca indicate how eager her students are to "speakout":"Whenour kids come here, they are dying to talk. You can see it in their faces; so here-everything here is to encourage them to communicate.Everything we do is because we want to help them talk, to communicate,to tell us where they are and what they need." Although the focus of this ESLcomponent is on conversation,students work on a variety of activities that include reading, writing, computer literacy,and art, among others. For example, in relation to writing activities,students work on creative writing, journals,poetry, letter writing, composition, and publishing. In terms of reading, students practice reading and telling stories, poems, myths, tales, and legends. Otherclassroompracticesinclude the use of permanentlearning centers, such as the computer and listening centers, as well as floating centers for art projects,writing, and games. Plays, skits, and role-playingare also recurrentactivitiesin this classroom.Forthe most part, the majority of activities in the conversational ESL classroom requirethat students work in pairs and small groups.

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In this classroom,one recurrentcommunicativeevent that facilitated talkand interactionbetween teachersand students and among students is the "talkingcircle."This is a total group activity that generallytakes place at the beginning of the 45-minute conversationalEnglish class. Almost every day teacherand students gather in talking circleto share and discuss experiences,anecdotes,news, special events, or introducea new topic. Although the teachermight open the discussion by suggesting a general topic, the overriding assumption is that talking circle provides a place and an audience for students to discuss anything of interestto them.The purpose of this everyday event is, as stated by the teacher,"to help childrentalk." As documented elsewhere (Ernst1994),salient featuresof this communicative event are many, including these: students talk more than teachers;speakers are more concerned with conveying meaning than with presenting linguistically correct information;speaking turns are frequentlyextendedand always negotiated;topics are mostlycontrolled by students;topics discussed deal with personal experiences;contributions to the talk often take the form of narratives experiences are reconstructed in order to share them; and teacher talk provides an interactionalscaffoldby listening and prompting students to continue In communicativeevents like talkingor by solicitingsome clarification. the talking circle, where interactions are promoted and collaboration among participantsencouraged,students' opportunitiesfor using and practicinga new languageforcommunicativereasonsareenhanced.The following example illustrateshow a fourthgraderfrom Koreawho has spent less than eight months in the United Stateshas the opportunityto extend and elaborateher own speech as she shares her experience of "going swimming."She begins by narratingone anecdote in Korea,in which she is swimming and the water was "toohigher"(i.e.,too deep).6
222 223 224 225 226 227 228 228a 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 Teacher Ji-Hae Teacher Ji-Hae JI-HAE you know I'm I swi I umm in Korea UM-HUH I'mgoing to the swimming pool they have many people but maybe may be we Hyun-Tae not the pool Teacher YEAH Hyun-Tae we don't go pool we went beach Teacher TO THEBEACH um-huh Ji-Hae too too Teacher SHALLOW too higher Ji-Hae (handsone on top of the other within a one feet distance) Teacher UM-HUH Hyun-Tae too deep Ji-Hae they I I know how to swim right

328 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 Teacher Ji-Hae Borui Ji-Hae

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Teacher Students Teacher Ji-Hae Teacher

YES and I can go to the too higher it's too higheraugh brotherbrotherhelp me [ ] my brotheris going to swim and my brotheris going to push me like that {moves hands as she were pulling a rope} OHH /laughs/ AND IT you know what I did YES

What followed after line 251 is Ji-Hae's second recount. In this instance, she went to the swimming pool and found out that her "swim sweater" (i.e., bathing suit) was too small. As evidenced in the above segment, these young ESL students are contributing freely from their own experiences. As Ji-Hae narrates her story, Hyun-Tae, her brother, extends or clarifies the information provided (lines 228, 229, 237). The teacher supports students' interactions by listening and acknowledging children's comments (lines 224, 228a, 230, 233,236, 239). Furthermore, by acknowledging students' messages (e.g., "um-huh," "yeah"), repeating ("to the beach"), or extending previous comments (e.g., "shallow"), she indicates to students that sharing personal experiences is of value. Thus, one important characteristic here is that students have ownership of the topics discussed. Because they are encouraged to freely share their own experiences, students have a chance to try out recently acquired vocabulary, to discover new ways of deploying their communicative resources, and to explore how the new language sounds as they speak it. Talking circle also provided opportunities for teachers to find out about their students' feelings and concerns, as in the following segment: 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 Teacher Borui Teacher Borui Teacher Borui Teacher Borui Teacher Borui Teacher AREYOUOKAY BORUI AREYOUOKAYBORUI I ugh ugh Ipointsat his chin} WHATHAPPENED TO YOURCHIN eh it's in my father'scar is pow CAR OH YESIN YOURFATHER'S um-huh OKAY AND WHATHAP AND ISYOURFATHER me is wrong my father'scaris pow (jumpsfrom his chair} OH MYGOODNESS THERE TWOCARSBORUI WERE no ONE CARUM-HUH

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In the above segment, Borui, a first grader from China with less than five months in the United States, made several attempts to explain what happened to his chin. But teachers are not always able to understand students' messages. When this happens, students can often support their peers' conversational efforts, as evidenced in the continuation of the previous account, where Licheng translates Borui's explanation. 496 497 497a 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 Licheng Teacher Licheng Anita Teacher Licheng Teacher Licheng Jaime Licheng Oh I know teacher taftertalkingwith Boruiin Chinese} I know teacher YEAH his fatherrides a no cara bike oh a bike OHHH he Boruino father A ALONE ONLYBORUI he say he has a rockhere the bicyclehas the wheel wheel into the um rock pow pow the bike brokedown and Boruisay he hurt after

In this excerpt, when Licheng was speaking, all others were listening attentively, as illustrated by Anita's acknowledgment that it was a bike and not a car (line 499) and Jaime's accompanying "sound effects" of the incident (line 506). Furthermore, with the teacher as an interested listener and occasional prompter (e.g., lines 500, 502), Licheng is encouraged to further explain Borui's account and to try out new linguistic means without the fear of being wrong. It is clear that in this communicative event students have ample opportunities to use their new language and to practice how to take turns, interrupt, help others, and listen actively. They are encouraged to practice how to hold back the more talkative members and how to draw out the shy ones. They learn how to request clarification, how to ask for repetitions, how to slow down, and how to explain. In sum, in this classroom, talk and interaction between students and teachers and among students are not only encouraged but carefully orchestrated, scaffolded, and monitored by teachers. It is through talk and interaction that students are able to demonstrate their developing oral language skills and, by doing so, they are using language to learn about themselves, about each other, and about their new culture. Most importantly, they are using language to learn language. A Content-AreaProgram The focus of this component of the program is threefold: first, to help students develop and enhance their problem solving skills; second, to help students acquire the cultural knowledge and specialized language and skills needed to succeed in the content areas; and third, to help

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students deal with some of the mechanical aspects of reading and writing. Everydaymost ESLstudents in this school attend two 45-minute classes of ESLcontent-areainstruction.In this classroom,students work with one of the three ESLteachersin all content-areas, especially in reading and math. Average size for instructionranges from one-toone instruction to groups of four to six students. Typically, students attend this ESLcomponentfor less than two years. Studentsare generally exited once they reachtheir grade level and when teachers"canbe sure thatthey will finishthe yearat the same level as theirclass."Because of this criteria,once students are exited, they generally do very well in different subjects.Studentsappeared to be able to recognize the value of having ESLcontent-area instruction,as expressed by Yan Sun when Ms. about her ESLmath teacher: Romero, talking
Ms. Romero,she [has]been teachingme math so much so I'm good at math, betterthan my class. It'sgood math because thereMs. Romerotells me to do something,and we can go fasterthan my class. That'swhat I like.

This high motivationto succeed in math, and to do it fasterand better thantheirEnglish-speaking peers,has been discussedby others(Guthrie 1985; Ramirez et al. 1991). One argument supporting this need for success is providedby Aswin when he says, "Theysay I am dumb;they say I don't speak English.I know good math;I'm fast, they slower." One other importantfunction served by this component of the ESL programhas to do with helping students cope with mechanicalaspects of reading and writing. Because many students come from diverse language groups (such as Persian, Chinese, or Arabic), they are not always familiarwith the Latin alphabet.Their writing system may be completely different (i.e., ideographic, pictographic,logographic);the languagemay be writtenfromrightto left and top to bottom;lettersmay be written to extend both above and below the line; or lettersmay not be joined and punctuationnot always precise.For many ESLstudents, transitionto the Latinalphabetcauses considerableconfusion. In these cases, students'specificneeds are addressedduring one-to-oneor small group readingand writing instruction. Conclusions Brief descriptions of (a) setting, (b) characteristicsof teachers and students,and (c) a discussionof selected day-to-dayroutines,pedagogical assumptions, and organizational program features in this article present a generalview of this program.Throughoutthis generalexploration,or what Spradleycallsa "grandtour"of the program(1980),three points stand out. First, due to the heterogeneous composition of the student population at Arthur'sESL program-in terms of fluency in English,grade levels, linguistic,literacy,and culturalbackgrounds-the organizationof learningexperiencesfor language-minoritystudents is

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mediated by a carefully orchestrated set of school and classroom processes. Second, the fact that the consequences of not being able to communicate appropriately in English go beyond a linguistic realm is recognized and addressed. The inability to communicate in the new language is a very obvious cause of stress in students. At the same time, students are detached from emotional support and friendship, a factor that is the most openly avowed cause of unhappiness mentioned by students: I don't have any friends.I can't play with anyone, talk to anyone, and I have to sit in my desk and do nothing 'cause I don't know how to do my work. So thefirstyearsarereallyboring'causeI can'tdo anything.See, when somebody hit me or something, I can't tell my teacher;I can't communicatethen. You see, when I first came to school, I was very shy. I couldn'ttalk to anyone but I could talkwith Ms. Seleca;I could communicatewith Ms. Seleca.If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't understandanything. I was almost to cry;yeah, I was sad 'cause I didn't understandEnglish.I always cried at home when I went back from school. In order to help ESL students cope with these feelings of isolation and to encourage them to participate as much as possible in the whole array of school experiences, the ESL staff carefully design a plan of study for each student. The result of this attempt of accommodating both the ESL and the content-areas courses is a very complex timetable that, paradoxically, can increase those feelings of isolation. Teachers thus are constantly coordinating efforts to guard against a fragmented and conflicting delivery of services. Third, and closely related to the above, the ESL staff at Arthur plays an important role in providing a supportive system, or a scaffold, in which ESL students' whole array of linguistic, academic, social, and emotional needs can be bolstered and integrated. The typical scaffold used by construction workers when erecting buildings is a useful metaphor to explain this important function of the ESL program at Arthur. In Greenfield's words: The scaffold,as it is known in building construction,has five characteristics: it providesa support;it functionsas a tool;it extends the rangeof the worker; it allows the workerto accomplisha task not otherwisepossible;and it is used selectivelyto aid the worker where needed. [1984:118] Continuing with this metaphor, the role of Arthur's ESL program is fundamental because it (a) provides instructional support for language minority students in conversational English and content-area instruction; (b) functions as a hub around which students' schooling experiences are organized; (c) extends and enhances students' learning experiences in a second language and culture by providing a context wherein their previous native language and culture experiences are valued; (d) allows students to appropriately participate in everyday events by

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helping them learn the social and communicative demands of everyday life in a North American school; and (e) supports students' academic, social, and emotional needs whenever needed. Ultimately, programs like Arthur can themselves serve as "scaffolds" for policymakers and program coordinators as they strive to meet the needs of ESL students in U.S. schools.

Gisela Erst is an assistantprofessorin the College of Educationat Washington StateUniversity,where she also directsthe Bilingual/ESLEducationProgram. Notes Earlierversions of this articlewere presented at the 1991 Acknowledgments. Associationin Chicago,and Annual Meeting of the AmericanAnthropological the 1994 AnnualMeetingof the AmericanEducationalResearchAssociationin New Orleans.I wish to thankthe teachersand students in the ESLProgramat ArthurElementary School.Theirnames,but not theirwords, have been changed in the text. Special thanks to CatherineEmihovich for her support and kind comments,and to MaryHenry,KerriRichard,ElsaStatzner,and HenryTrueba for theiruseful commentson earlierdrafts. 1. Throughoutthis articlethese childrenare referredto as ESLor languageminoritystudents. These terms, although problematicas they are, have been chosen because they lack the more serious drawbacksof alternativessuch as becausethey focus on which are inappropriate limited (orLEP), proficient English apparentdeficiencies. 2. Although the supportivefunctionof this ESLprogramis quite visible and although it is clear too that these ESLteachersare successfulin constructinga contextthatcanbolsterand integrateESLstudents'experiences,it is not so clear of contextgets constructed.Successfulorchestration how such an interactional these students'everyday lives in school seems to requiremore than a group of willing teacherswho are well preparedin planning,organizing,and managing a multidimensionalESLprogram.To thateffect,I have elsewhereexploredand identified selected not-so-visible patterns of social interaction (Ernst 1994). However, because the purpose of this article was to explore the different dimensionsof one ESLprogram,limitedconsiderationwas given to the supportive role played by these ESLteachersin the school and by the students'families is morethe resultof a limitationin termsof space at home. Thusthis shortcoming narrowness. and focus ratherthan in termsof paradigmatic School is a pseudonym, as are the names of 3. The name ArthurElementary participantsin this ESLprogram. 4. The quotationsused in this articleare most often verbatimtranscriptions. fillersandholders(e.g., "um-huh," On occasions,however,conversational "uh") have been eliminatedfor ease of reading. 5. For a discussion of how these assumptions translateinto instructional practices,see Ernst1994and Ernstand Richard,in press. 6. Elsewhere(Ernst1991,1994),I have reportedon the insights derivedfrom the microethnographic analyses of selected videotaped events (from a pool of interactionsin this ESLprogram).For over 100hours of videotapedface-to-face

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this section, ratherthan stating ESLteachers'perspectivesabout their role as languageteachersor describingtheir theoreticalassumptionsabout oral development and second-language teaching and learning, I opted for presenting conversationsthat canbetterillustratethe supporsegmentsof teacher-student tive natureof classroomtalkin this ESLcomponent.The intentionhere is not to providea detailedanalysisof one or severalevents,but to provideinstancesthat illustrate the type of reciprocal interaction-oriented pedagogy, as opposed to transmission-oriented (Cummins1986)that permeatesthis program. References Cited Allen, Virginia 1989 Literature as a Supportto LanguageAcquisition.In When They Don't All SpeakEnglish.Pat Rigg and VirginiaG. Allen, eds. Pp. 55-64. Urbana, IL:NationalCouncilof Teachersof English. Bares, Douglas 1976 FromCommunicationto Curriculum. New York:Penguin. Bloome,David, ed. 1987 Literacy and Schooling.Norwood, NJ:Ablex. Cazden,CourtneyB. 1988 Classroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning. NH: Heinemann. Portsmouth, Cazden,CourtneyB., and Hugh Mehan 1989 Principlesfrom Sociology and Anthropology:Context, Code, Classroomand Culture.In KnowledgeBasefor the BeginningTeacher.Maynard C. Reynolds,ed. Pp. 47-57. Oxford:PergamonPress. Chaudron,Craig 1988 Second Language Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crawford,James 1989 BilingualEducation:History, Politics, Theory,and Practice.Trenton, NJ:Crane. Cummins,Jim 1982 Tests,Achievement,and BilingualStudents.Focus 9:1-8. 1984 Bilingualismand Special Education:Issues in Assessment and Pedagogy. San Diego, CA:College-HillPress. 1986 EmpoweringMinorityStudents:A Frameworkfor Intervention.Harvard EducationalReview 56:18-36. Edelsky,Carolyn 1986 Writingin a BilingualProgram: Habia una Vez. Norwood, NJ:Ablex. Ellis,Rod 1984 ClassroomSecond LanguageDevelopment.Oxford:Pergamon. Frederick Erickson, 1987 Transformation and SchoolSuccess:The Politicsand Cultureof EducationalAchievement.Anthropologyand Education 18(4):335-356. Quarterly Ernst,Gisela 1991 Talkingand Learningin an ESLProgram: An Ethnographic Analysis. Ph.D.dissertation,Departmentof Instructionand Curriculum, University of Florida. 1994 TalkingCircle:Conversationand Negotiation in the ESLClassroom. TESOL Quarterly28(2).

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Ernst,Gisela,and KerriJ. Richard In press Reading and WritingPathwaysto Conversationin the ESLClassroom. The ReadingTeacher48(3). PatriciaTeftCousin,and EstebanDiaz Flores,Barbara, 1991 Transforming Deficit Myths about Learning,Language,and Culture. LanguageArts 68:369-379. Freire,Paulo 1970 Pedagogy of the Oppressed.New York:Seabury. Green,JudithL. 1983 Researchon Teaching as a LinguisticProcess:A State of the Art. In Review of Researchin Education.E. Gordon, ed. Vol. 10. Pp. 151-252. ResearchAssociation. Washington,DC:AmericanEducational Green,JudithL., and CynthiaWallat 1981 Ethnographyand Language in EducationalSettings. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Greenfield,PatriciaM. 1984 A Theory of the Teacherin LearningActivities of Everyday Life. In EverydayCognition:Its Developmentin Social Context. B. Rogoff and J. MA:HarvardUniversityPress. Lave,eds. Pp. 117-138.Cambridge, Gumperz,John 1982 DiscourseStrategies.London:CambridgeUniversityPress. Guthrie,GracePung 1985 A SchoolDivided:An Ethnography of BilingualEducationin a Chinese Community.Hillsdale,NJ:LawrenceErlbaumAssociates. Hakuta,Kenji 1986 The Mirrorof Language.New York:BasicBooks. Handscombe,Jean 1989 A Quality Programfor Learnersof English as a Second Language.In When They Don't All Speak English.Pat Rigg and VirginiaG. Allen, eds. Pp. 1-14. Urbana,IL:NationalCouncilof Teachersof English. Long, Michael,and PatriciaPorter 1985 Group Work, Interlanguage Talk,and Second LanguageAcquisition. TESOL Quarterly19:207-228. Lucas,Tamara,RosemaryHenze, and RubenDonato 1990 Promoting the Success of Latino Language Minority Students: An ExploratoryStudy of Six High Schools. Harvard Educational Review 60(3):315-340. McLaughlin, Barry 1982 Children'sSecond LanguageLearning.Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. Mehan,Hugh MA:HarvardUniversityPress. 1979 LearningLessons.Cambridge, InCultureand the BilingualClassof Bilingual Education. 1981 Ethnography H. T. Trueba,G. P. Guthrie,and room:Studies in ClassroomEthnography. K. H. Au, eds. Pp. 36-55. Rowley,MA:Newbury House. Nunan, David 1989 UnderstandingLanguageClassrooms.London:PrenticeHall. Ortiz, Alba,and JamesR. Yates 1983 Incidenceof Exceptionalityamong Hispanics: Implicationsfor Man7:41-54. power Training.NABEJournal

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Padilla,Amado M., KathrynJ. Lindholm,Andrew Chen, RichardDuran, KenjiHakuta,WallaceLambert,and RichardTucker 1991 The English-Only Movement: Myths, Reality, and Implications for Psychology.AmericanPsychologist46(2):120-130. Philips,Susan U. 1983 The InvisibleCulture:Communicatingin Classroomand Community on the WarmSpringsIndianReservation.New York:Longman. Ramirez,J.David, SandraD.Yuen,and Dena R. Ramey 1991 LongitudinalStudy of StructuredEnglish ImmersionStrategy,EarlyTansitionalBilingualEducationPrograms for LanguageExitand Late-Exit MinorityChildren.San Mateo,CA:AguirreInternational. Spradley,James 1980 Participant Observation.New York:Holt, Reinhartand Winston. Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, 1991 ImmigrantAdaptation to Schooling: A Hispanic Case. In Minority and Involuntary Statusand Schooling:A ComparativeStudy of Immigrant Minorities.MargaretA. Gibson and John U. Ogbu, eds. Pp. 37-51. New York:GarlandPublishing. Trueba,HenryT., GracePung Guthrie,and KathrynHu-pei Au, eds. 1981 Cultureand the BilingualClassroom:Studies in ClassroomEthnography. Rowley,MA:Newbury House. Weade, Regina,and JudithL. Green 1989 Reading in the InstructionalContext: An InteractionalSociolinguisPerspective.InLocatingLearningAcrosstheCurriculum: tic/Ethnographic Ethnographic Perspectiveson ClassroomResearch.CatherineEmihovich, ed. Pp. 17-56. Norwood, NJ:Ablex. Lili,and ConcepcionValadez Wong-Fillmore, 1986 TeachingBilingualLearners.In Handbook of Researchon Teaching. M.C.Wittrock, ed. Pp. 648-685.New York:MacmillanPublishing.