LINGUIST List 13.2070

Mon Aug 12 2002

Review: Applied Ling: Carrasquillo & Rodriguez (2002)

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What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Simin Karimi at siminlinguistlist.org.

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  1. Jo Tyler, Applied Linguistics: Carrasquillo Angela L.,Rodriguez Vivian (2002)Language Minority Students in the Mainstream Classroom.

Message 1: Applied Linguistics: Carrasquillo Angela L.,Rodriguez Vivian (2002)Language Minority Students in the Mainstream Classroom.

Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2002 17:37:47 +0000
From: Jo Tyler <jtylermwc.edu>
Subject: Applied Linguistics: Carrasquillo Angela L.,Rodriguez Vivian (2002)Language Minority Students in the Mainstream Classroom.

Carrasquillo, Angela L. and Vivian Rodriguez (2002) Language Minority
Students in the Mainstream Classroom, 2nd ed.
Multilingual Matters,xvi+200pp, hardback \ ISBN 1-85359-565-9 GBP
39.95 / USD 59.95 / CanD 79.95, paperback ISBN 1-85359-564-0 GBP
12.95 / USD 19.95 / CanD 25.95, Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Series 33.

Book Announcement on Linguist:
http://linguistlist.org/get-book.html?BookID=2289 

Jo Tyler,Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia

INTRODUCTION

The second edition of Language Minority Students in the Mainstream
Classroom is a timely revision of the text originally published in
1996. The recent passage in the United States of the No Child Left
Behind Act mandates that English language learners (ELLs) "meet the
same challenging State academic content and student academic
achievement standards as all children are expected to meet"
(P.L. 107-110, Sec. 3102(1), et seq.). As a result, U.S. schools are
under increasing pressure to include ELLs in the mainstream classroom,
making this book an important addition to pedagogical literature. It
is intended as a guidebook for classroom teachers, particularly those
who have not specialized in teaching ELLs. It would also prove useful
for school administrators, particularly in districts where bilingual
education or English as a second language programs are not
sufficiently available to serve the ELL population.

This review presents a descriptive synopsis of the text, noting
substantive revisions from the first edition, followed by an
evaluative discussion.

SYNOPSIS

The book is divided into 10 chapters, plus an introduction, an
extensive up-dated list of references, and a brief index. The
Introduction sets forth the two leading objectives of the text: (1) to
increase awareness among teachers in the mainstream classroom about
the characteristics and needs of ELLs and (2) to offer theoretical
background on and practical suggestions for instruction that
integrates language development into the curriculum of the content
areas. A useful point of discussion in the Introduction is a
disclaimer about the terms 'limited English proficient (LEP)
students', 'English language learners,' and 'language minority
students'. Although the authors use the last term in the book's
title, the combination 'LEP/ELL' is the most often used term in the
text, reflecting a change from the use of simply 'LEP' in the first
edition. The authors note the negative connotation of 'limited
English proficient', yet this term is used throughout the recent
legislation and widely in educational settings. (I will use the
more neutral term 'ELL' in this review.)

Chapters 1 through 5 address the first part of the authors' purpose,
to describe the characteristics and needs of ELLs. Chapter 1, Limited
English Proficient Students in the Mainstream Classroom, provides an
overview of issues involved in placing ELLs, with or without prior
English language instruction, in classrooms with their native-speaking
peers. Among the issues discussed are administrative and community
concerns and policies, assessment of English language proficiency and
content area knowledge, and effects of mainstream placement on
students' self-esteem.

Both Chapters 2 and 3 contain extensive statistics, both national and
state-specific, that demonstrate the rapid growth and demographic
changes in the ELL school population. Although none of the statistics
are as recent as the 2000 Census, most reflect reporting from the late
1990s. Chapter 2, Limited English Proficient Students/English
Language Learners: Who are They?, presents a detailed description of
the vast diversity in this population in terms of English language
proficiency, first language literacy, cultural characteristics, and
immigration status. The chapter also includes an important
explanation of assessment goals and practices, including the
recommendation to use multiple assessment tools.

Chapter 3, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom,
provides valuable profiles of the linguistic and ethnic groups which
make up the majority of the ELL population: Hispanic, Asian/Pacific
Islander, Native American, Haitian, Russian, and Arabic.

Chapter 4, Alternatives to Mainstreaming, consists of two main parts.
The first half of the chapter summarizes leading theories and research
on second language acquisition, with emphasis on the crucial
distinction between acquisition of social communicative skills and
proficiency in academic language comprehension and usage conventions.
The second half of the chapter describes the main instructional
programs designed to provide English language instruction for ELLs:
Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Sheltered
Instruction. Although these programs are identified as "alternatives
to mainstreaming" in the chapter's title, they are described and
recommended as ways to prepare ELLs before being mainstreamed.

Chapter 5, The Integrated Development of Oral and Written Language,
extends the previous chapter's discussion of second language
acquisition to focus on second language literacy development. The
chapter emphasizes the importance of integrating instruction of
listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and discusses some links
between spoken and written modalities. Also emphasized is the
importance of first language literacy skills in the development of
academic language proficiency in the second language.

Chapters 6 through 9 focus on instructional strategies for teaching
different subject matters to ELLs. These chapters are largely
unaltered from the first edition. Chapter 6, Instructional Strategies
for LEP/ELL Students' Oral and Written English Language Development,
presents basic strategies for teaching reading comprehension and the
writing process. One change from the prior edition is excision of
references to the 'whole language' approach to language arts.
Although the authors have deleted this term, the text is otherwise
virtually unchanged and the focus remains on holistic strategies.

Chapter 7, Integrating Language and Social Studies Learning, focuses
on strategies for teaching vocabulary and for activating and enhancing
students' background knowledge in this highly literacy-dependent
subject area. Added to the material from the first edition is a
thoughtful discussion of the demands of high stakes standardized
testing and the especially hard impact that the standards movement has
had on social studies curricula in recent years.

Chapter 8, Integrating Language and Science Learning, presents science
as a process of discovery and critical thinking, more than a mastery
of discrete facts. Hence, the authors offer science teaching
strategies that focus largely on collaborative activities and
development of cognitive and academic skills, and they discuss some
parallels between these strategies and language acquisition
strategies.

Chapter 9, Integrating Language and Mathematics Learning, focuses
first on the linguistic structures typically found in mathematics
textbooks and tests and how these differ from the structures common in
other academic disciplines. This discussion is followed by an
overview of concrete teaching strategies to develop problem-solving
skills and to relate mathematical concepts to students' life
experiences and to other academic content areas.

The book concludes with Chapter 10, The Role of Teachers in the
Development of Linguistic, Cognitive and Academic Skills of LEP/ELL
Students. This discussion summarizes many of the characteristics of
effective teaching from previous chapters, with emphasis on how they
relate to language development. It includes coverage of issues of
concern to mainstream teachers, such as parental involvement and
differentiation of instruction. The chapter concludes with an
insightful discussion of teacher education and how to promote
reflective teaching practices.

DISCUSSION

As mentioned at the opening of this review, this second edition of
Language Minority Students in the Mainstream Classroom is a most
timely addition to the pedagogical literature in the field of teaching
English to speakers of other languages. As the authors point out in
their introduction to Chapter 4, bilingual education and English as a
second language (ESL) programs are not available in many school
districts that serve ELLs. In fact, according to a 1999-2000 school
survey, over 40 percent of U.S. teachers have ELLs in their
classrooms, but only 12.5 percent of teachers have had some training
in dealing with this student population (U.S. Department of Education,
2002). Furthermore, only 23 states require that specialized courses
to serve the ELL population be staffed by teachers certified in this
field, and seven states do not even have legislative provisions to
provide specialized instructional programs for ELLs (McKnight &
Antunez, 1999). These statistics underscore the urgent need for
mainstream teachers to obtain the kind of information presented by
Carrasquillo and Rodríguez in Language Minority Students in the
Mainstream Classroom.

Many of the most recent texts about specialized educational practices
for serving the ELL population focus on the continuing debate over
bilingual education prompted by Propositions 227 in California and 203
in Arizona (e.g., Corson, 2001; Cummins, 2000). I commend
Carrasquillo and Rodríguez for giving balanced explanations of both
bilingual education and ESL programming without taking sides in the
debate. While this debate deserves the attention, most school
districts in the U.S. do not have sufficient ELLs of the same language
background to make bilingual education programs feasible, yet these
are the areas where the need for trained teachers is greatest. The
New York Times has just reported that the fastest growth of ELL
populations is in the South, Midwest, and Northwest regions (Zhao,
2002). For example, in a typical state like Virginia (where I teach),
85 percent of the school districts have fewer than 100 ELLs--at
different grade levels, levels of English profici! ency, with
different native languages and literacy exposure. These small
numbers, combined with the great diversity of needs, make it difficult
to provide systematic instructional programs like bilingual education
or ESL. For teachers in these school districts, the debate about
whether to provide bilingual education or ESL has little relevance.

As a teacher educator, I have struggled to find a textbook suitable
for my students who are not specializing in teaching ELLs but need a
basic understanding of the educational needs of the ELLs they are apt
to have in their classrooms. For this reason alone, the text by
Carrasquillo and Rodriguez is extremely valuable. By not taking sides
in the political debate over bilingual education, they provide an
objective description of instructional programs and teaching practices
that can help ELLs meet academic demands in classrooms where English
is the language of instruction. I would also recommend the book for
school administrators, especially those who are exploring or
establishing programs to meet the needs of an increasing ELL
population. There is very little technical terminology in the text,
making it easily accessible to non-specialists.

I would not, however, recommend the text for training teachers who
will specialize in teaching ELLs. For one thing, the book is very
generalized, with little in-depth analysis of language teaching
practices and little concrete support for theoretical claims. With
the exception of the excellent discussion of mathematics language
usage, there is almost no discussion of linguistic and discourse
structures in the book, and some of the information on second language
acquisition presented as research-based is still primarily
theoretical.

However, my main criticism of the text is more mundane. I found it to
be poorly edited, even to the point of occasional incoherence. For
example, after several paragraphs detailing the "interdependence of
different modalities" (pp. 80-81), the authors summarize, stating that
"Since the four language processes have an independent relationship,
the teaching of language should be approached from an integrated
perspective" (p. 82). Many of the errors have been carried over from
the first edition, although surprisingly the example just cited used
the word "inseparable" in the first edition, instead of "independent,"
as revised for the second edition. For many readers the high number
of typographical and mechanical errors (I counted over 65 in the first
130 pages) would seriously undermine the authority of the text.

In mitigation of the criticism, however, I would like to report that
after using this text this summer in a course on cross-cultural
education for non-specialists, my students reported that the book
opened their minds to new ways of looking at language and language
teaching that they had not previously considered and expanded their
teaching repertoires for working with ELLs. Thus it certainly
achieved the authors' objectives to increase awareness and
understanding among mainstream classroom teachers.

REFERENCES

Carrasquillo, Angela L. & Rodríguez, Vivian, 1996, Language Minority
Students in the Mainstream Classroom. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual
Matters.

Corson, David. 2001. Language Diversity in Education. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cummins, Jim. 2000. Language, Power and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children
in the Crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

McKnight, Andrew & Atunez, Beth. 1999. State Survey of Legislative
Requirements for Educating Limited English Proficient
Students. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual
Education.

National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. 2001. No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001 [P.L. 107-110], Title III: Language Instruction for
Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students, 107th Congress, 1st
Session. Washington, DC: Author.

U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education
Statistics. 2002. Schools and Staffing Survey, 1999-2000: Overview of
the Data for Public, Private, Public Charter, and Bureau of Indian
Affairs Elementary and Secondary Schools (NCES 2002-313). Washington,
DC: Author.

Zhao, Yilu. 2002. Wave of pupils lacking English strains schools. New
York Times Education, retrieved 8/9/02 from
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/05/education/05ESL.html/

ABOUT THE REVIEWER 

Jo Tyler holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Florida
and is Assistant Professor and coordinator of the graduate TESL
program at Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
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