Education – Cultural Backgrounds

ELL students may struggle with the language skills required in English-medium schools. Some ELL students are international students; others are migrants with varying lengths of exposure to English and English-medium education. In addition, second generation migrants may also have problems with literacy skills in English, especially if the home language is not English, but their problems are often unrecognized ( Roadblocks 2003).

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ELL students appear to have difficulties finding words quickly or knowing what to say, which points to the need for more oral work by teachers. According to many teachers, their English speaking peers and their own reports, ELL students have most difficulty leading class discussions and giving oral presentations. Some ELL students find it difficult to speak English in front of their English speaking peers. As long as ELL students are too intimidated to speak up they will lack practice, fail to develop their skills and miss out on interaction with local students. This interaction is vital because it offers practice at speaking in large and small groups ( Roseberry-Mckibbin 2003) .

Teachers need to be aware of the diverse life experiences among students, and cannot assume that all students share common background knowledge. ELL students’ lack of local background knowledge is a challenge to discipline teachers who feel that explanations can slow down the pace of the class. Many listening difficulties could be overcome if teachers provided a unit outline, incorporating a glossary of the discipline discourse students were likely to encounter in the lecture ( Bruna & Chamberlin & Lewis & Lopez Ceballos 2007).

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The major building blocks of literacy program for ELL students, according to Gibbons (2003), for helping and supporting ELL students with their learning, teachers see the following modifications in the curriculum as ELL students’ perceived needs: clarifying points after the class, putting key points on the board, defining terms, starting lectures with quick quizzes to recap, providing vocabulary lists, using a data show, slowing delivery, demonstrating, and setting up a special ELL conversation group. ELL students in universities suggest that teachers need to give more examples and check the clarity of their own written worksheets and exam questions. In addition, they requested that teachers needed to clarify the standards they expected of their students ( King 2004) .

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