Resources: Implementing language policy: Exploring concerns of school principals. – Google Search

Although there is a plethora of research on language acquisition, public confusion about the meaning of this research often leads to poor educational policy.  Below is a link to an article written for a general audience which summarizes this topic in order to address recent policy decisions in Arizona.  Notice in particular this section, which addresses the acquisition of the academic patterns of English which are needed by all students in order to succeed:

In response to Proposition 203, Arizona adopted a statewide requirement that all 

teachers complete 60 hours of training in SEI instructional methods. In the survey of 

materials for training teachers at the district level, nothing spoke to one of the most 

critical areas of teacher training for EL students: academic language acquisition. While 

there is a great deal of variability among students depending on a host of factors, oral 

proficiency in a second language can be acquired in three to five years. Best estimates of 

the time required to achieve proficiency in academic language are four to seven years; 

more recently a group of noted researchers has proposed, based on empirical data from a 

number of states, that a good “target” goal is five years.61 Academic language includes 

knowledge of specialized vocabulary, comprehension of complex written text, writing 

well-organized, cogent essays, presenting academic material, and succeeding on English 

language content-area assessments.62 Students do not “naturally” acquire academic 

language, but instead must be exposed to it in formal instruction. Thus, training teachers 

to explicitly teach academic language and competencies is also an essential aspect of an 

effective program,63 but is absent from the Arizona districts’ teacher training. Academic 

language is necessarily taught in concert with actual content knowledge so that students 

learn how to use language in academic context.64  To the extent that the Arizona four– 

hour program focuses almost exclusively on teaching English, rather than academic 

content, it is unlikely that these students can catch up to the instruction level of their peers who are English speaking. [Emphasis added.]

Implementing language policy: Exploring concerns of school principals. – Google Search.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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