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Different Proficiency Levels

RUNNING HEAD: Teaching English Language Learners

Teaching Writing to English Language Learners

At Different Proficiency Levels
Desirae Chatigny
National University
MAT 674
Professor Connie Wallace
August 22, 2014

Different Proficiency Levels

Today classrooms are extremely diverse, language is no exception. In order to teach those
learners at different proficiency levels a teacher has to scaffold the learning process. As learners
progress the teacher can remove the scaffolds leading to competency and designation as a fluent
speaker. The author has provided different proficiency stages, sample student behaviors, and
activities for those stages.

Different Proficiency Levels

Teaching Writing to English Language Learners

At Different Proficiency Levels
Today classrooms have become linguistically diverse, with students learning English at
different proficiency levels. Because our curriculum is taught primarily in English we as
teachers need to work to teach our English Language Learners through the best means possible.
To do this effectively we need to get to know our students and their abilities. We also need to
read and investigate the most beneficial teaching tools in regards to learning a language.
According to the article written by Andrea J. Spillett, Strategies for Teaching English Language
Learners, the best way to teach learners a new language is through total immersion. The article
states total immersion is the most natural approach to teaching a new language because the
learners are acquiring the language in the same manner they learned their first. Students in this
approach would be learning the new language and mannerisms through interactions with their
peers and teacher. In this approach students are learning basic communication skills and fluency
through interactions with students solely in English. In order to make this approach effective, the
article states a few conditions must be present. Those conditions include the use of visuals that
reinforce the spoken and written words. Use of gestures, adjustments in speech, exaggerated
intonations, stress of high-frequency words, participation, maintaining a low anxiety level and
enthusiasm are all helpful in teaching ELL students. English language development consists of
five different levels of proficiency: beginning, early intermediate, early advanced and advanced
(Spillett). The domains are: speaking, listening, reading and writing (Spillett). It is important to
teach according to proficiency levels, knowing your students and keeping track of their progress
will be important for this to be effective (Spillett).

Different Proficiency Levels

English Language Development focuses on four skill areas: function, form, fluency, and
vocabulary (Spillett). Functions are the purposes of communication (Spillett). The structure of
the English language is referred to as form (Spillett). Fluency is how easily and clearly language
is spoken (Spillett). The skill of vocabulary is important and research shows the ELL students
should be taught key words before learning a lesson in order to help them with language
acquisition (Spillett).
Kindergarten Standard: Reading 1.0 Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary DevelopmentStudents know about letters, words, and sounds. They apply this knowledge to read simple
Stages and Assignments to facilitate ELL movement to the next learning level

Sample student behavior


Points to nonverbal
Actively listens
Responds to commands

Early production

One word responses

Answer in phrases

ACTIVITY: Fold a piece of
paper in half to create a two
page book. Write your name
on the front of the book.
Write the title (I Like to)
under your name on the front
of the book. On the inside
two pages draw pictures of
what you like to do. On the
back cover draw a picture of
ACTIVITY: Circle the
correct answers on a
worksheet. What do you see
on the left side of the paper?
List what you see on the right
side of the paper (class will
answer and fill in together on
the board and individual
worksheets). List the animals
from biggest to smallest.
What do these animals eat?
Where do they live? Who do
they live with? (Students will

Different Proficiency Levels

once again create sentences
as a class on the board and
copy them onto their
individual worksheets).

Intermediate Fluency

Demonstrates comprehension
Carries on conversations
Answers in sentences


Demonstrates native like

Speaks, reads and writes with

ACTIVITY: Write the letters

in each word from left to
right. Teacher will say the
names of animals shown on
the board. As a class students
and teacher will sound them
out and write the letters of the
name from left to right. Ask
students about the animals.
Students will orally tell the
teacher one characteristic of
each chosen animal when
called upon. Students will
describe their habitat and
animals that are similar, and
their similarities. Students
will make a new book. This
time they will write using
whole sentences. The front
will have a title and their
name. On the inside they will
write about an animal using
whole sentences. Teacher
will have descriptive words
and animal names written on
the board for students to refer
ACTIVITY: Students will
animals to other animals
discussed in the class. What
would happen if an animal
from this group wanted to

Different Proficiency Levels

Ready to be designated as
English speakers

live with an animal of this

other group? Why would that
happen? How would this
end? Why do you feel that
way? What do you think
about the animals we learned
Create a story with a group
where one animal goes to live
with another type of animal.
Story can begin and end as
you would like. Each person
in the group is responsible for
writing the story in their own
book. Students will also be
required to illustrate their
own books. They will have
to communicate, cooperate
and collaborate to create the
stores. Each story will be
presented to the class.
Illustrated books will be
shared if students choose to
do so.

The writing activities will help the English learners to progress to the next level of English
proficiency because the activities get a little more challenging as the learner is progressing. In
the beginning there is a lot of scaffolding by the teacher. As the learner progresses and learns
more about the English language the scaffolds slowly begin to disappear. Students will begin by
listening, following commands, and responding through nonverbal responses. They will then
move to one word responses and phrase answers. Learners will then progress to demonstration
of comprehension and writing in whole sentences. By the last activity students will be working
to show proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. English speakers at this point are
working with little scaffolding, and are ready to be designated as fluent.

Different Proficiency Levels

The strategy of Copycatting, which is extremely effective in teaching English learners has
been incorporated into all activities. Students in the class will have the opportunity to create
their own individual work using examples and descriptive words on the board. This strategy
enables students to learn patterns of the English language before they are able to create their
own sentences as individuals (Ventriglia, 2013, p. 97). Students will be practicing writing and
English patterns through use of copycatting. When students practice this strategy they are able
to see how verbs and nouns are put together to form a sentence. The strategy of copycatting
provides reinforcement and practice with English in the written form.

Different Proficiency Levels

Spillett, A. (n.d.). Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners | Scholastic.com. Retrieved August
24, 2014, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/strategies-teaching-english-languagelearners
Ventriglia, L.D. (2013) Differentiated Instruction: The rule of foot (8th ed.) Younglight Educate Light
Up the Mind.