For English Language Learners (ELL), acquiring English proficiency is essential in order to understand content in mainstream classes. Just as important, however, is developing content area skills in order not to fall behind academically. To help ELL and multilingual learners develop these skills, some schools and districts have English language teachers “push in” to assist classroom teachers with instruction and work with students on the content that they are currently learning in class.
English learners who enter a United States district and have developed literacy skills in their native language will most likely have an easier time transferring these skills to learning English. However, because of all the nuances in English spelling and grammar rules, students may struggle with some literacy areas like writing and vocabulary retention. In addition, some students, especially older ones, tend not to want to leave their classes to attend small-group instruction because of perceived social issues. In those instances, the push-in model, where the English language teacher comes into the classroom, is preferred.
The number of times a teacher works with students in a classroom depends on the students’ needs and level of English proficiency. It also depends on the size of the room and the space needed to work with one student or a small group of students. The subject areas to push during that time are determined based on the areas in which students need the most assistance.
Push-in teachers can collaborate with classroom teachers to decide which skills and vocabulary are most relevant to students for a particular unit or theme being taught in class. In addition, push-in teachers can find ways to scaffold or link concepts so that English language learners can make connections, thus improving their English proficiency and increasing their rate of learning.
Vista’s Connect and Bridges programs address the needs of elementary and middle school multilingual learners, striving readers, and educators. Both programs address literacy development using authentic readings, and texts that focus on the content areas of science, social studies, language arts, math, music, art, and others. Additionally, these programs provide students with a chance to learn vocabulary and use the words in meaningful ways across content areas.
Writing is taught also across content areas. The themes and topics presented in Connect and Bridges can correlate to what is being taught in the mainstream classroom in order to reinforce English skills and academic language. As students develop the necessary skills, the push-in supports can be drawn back until the students are able to function without support.
By Angela Padron