English language learners enter schools at different levels of English proficiency. Some students can master English quickly, while others need more time. While students are developing these English skills, however, they need to simultaneously develop academic skills so as to not fall behind. In some schools, programs for English language learners use the “pull-out” model to support students as they work on their language and academic skills.
In the pull-out model, a teacher is assigned to pull students out of their classes for a period of time each day to give them English language instruction and support in small groups. The amount of time and frequency of the pull-out groups depend on the availability of the teacher as well as the language needs of the students. Students with lower English proficiency may need to meet every day, while other students do well with just a few meetings a week.
With a pull-out program, schools must be mindful that students are not missing too much content area instruction during the time they are pulled out of class to work on their language skills. That’s where literacy and content programs like Vista’s Connect and Bridges come in. These programs focus on academic literacy and language for the development of reading and writing skills necessary for the students’ proficiency level and grade level. They include authentic literature, plus readings that are rich with content-area vocabulary related to science, social studies, math, and language arts, as well as music, art, and other enrichment courses. Engaging lessons and activities make learning enjoyable and meaningful for students. In addition, these programs include multimedia resources for students to use to practice English and skills at school or at home.
Teachers can use Connect for elementary students or Bridges for middle schoolers in a pull-out fashion because the content is aligned with standards that student are taught in the mainstream classroom. Pull-out teachers can collaborate with classroom teachers to find out which topics are being taught in all content areas and use the components of these progams to reinforce those topics and vocabulary while students develop English proficiency. In this way, students are less likely to fall behind academically while they continue to build the necessary English skills needed to transfer full time into a mainstream class.
By Angela Padron