ACADEMIC ENGLISH FOR ESL& SEL STUDENTS
Building Academic English is essential for success in the academic and business environments. We must understand that conversational (informal) English skills are not enough to succeed on the standardized test and at the university level. With the focus on standardized testing in the public school sector, we miss out on one of the most important skills required at the university level, critical thinking. Critical thinking skills at the university level often determine the success of students in English and other academic areas.
To teach Academic English to both traditional and non-traditional students we plan and implement more culturally relevant instruction and use more culturally relevant materials. The entire objective is to teach the students how to navigate literature and other content that they do not have a strong knowledge foundation in. To build the critical thinking skills to help the students to identify and use strategies to figure out what they do not know and implement strategies to analyze the subject matter to successfully navigate the academic work.
When we look at the diversity in today’s classrooms and public schools it is even more imperative that we ensure access to academic language. When we think of Second Language Learners not only are we thinking of English as Second Language Learners we are also talking about SEL. SEL’s are English learners whose primary vernacular is not standard American English. These groups include but are not limited to African Americans, Hispanic or Latino Americans, Hawaiian Americans, and Native Americans. For these and other groups, Standard American English is often not their primary means of communications. Of course, there are exceptions and many students from these groups do use and master Standard American English, both for conversational (informal) and Academic Purposes. The research supports my position and validates the need for additional resources and support to bridge the gap between the primary language or means of communication by these groups and Standard American English. Fact is Standard American English is used for Academic, Business and Testing purposes.
Our school systems must set aside the resources, develop and employ curriculum and strategies to provide the access and support required to allow these groups access to the skills required to succeed in our society. As the most diverse society in the world we must ensure that we are inclusive and not exclusive, that everyone has access to the stools and skills required to contribute to society. This access will ensure that we use the most critical commodity on the planet “IP” Intellectual Property..i.e. brain power. As the most creative society on earth it would serve us well to develop the next Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, or Warren Buffett. For in today’s’ internet connected and information-driven world the countries that develop creative and critical thinkers will win.
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