September 1, 2011

ELL 'Shadowing' Brings Instructional Gaps to Light


ELL 'Shadowing' Brings Instructional Gaps to Light
By Liana Heitin
August 24, 2011

It's a professional development tool that stems from the concept of taking a walk in someone else's—in this case a student's—shoes. And in one California school, it has reportedly helped close the achievement gap for English-language learners.

The technique, which second-language acquisition expert Ivannia Soto began using in 2003, is called ELL shadowing. A teacher or administrator follows an English-language learner to several classes. Neither the student nor his or her teachers know the real reason the observer in the back of the room is there, which is to look specifically at the student's use of academic language. The observer takes notes at five-minute intervals on the student's actions regarding listening and speaking. Soto, an associate professor of education at Whittier College in California, claims the process is "enlightening."

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