The purpose of this study is to determine if a deficit in the ability to use oral communication has an effect on participation in an academic classroom discussion. The subject of the study is a seven year old girl who is an English Language Learner’s (ELL) and has educational challenges in the area of language acquisition and production. She specifically struggles with participation in academic classroom discussions. In creating this case study data was collected through interviews with pertinent stakeholders who include the ELL, her parents, teachers, tutors, and the administration. The findings were compiled by grouping responses to the interview questions into themes and then further interpreted. Other research was reviewed through literature and examined in connection to the findings. The primary finding is that there is a direct correlation to a deficit in the ability to use oral communication and the effect it has on participation in an academic classroom discussion. The main conclusion exposes a need for additional training for teachers as they work with ELL’s in the classroom setting in order to facilitate an increase in participation in academic classroom discussions by the ELL. Additional research is suggested to see how the ELL interprets successful participation in classroom discussions in light of the differences in perception from the ELL, classroom teacher, and tutors.
This case study looks at Maddie, a seven year old girl, who was brought to America by her adoptive parents at age five. The first four years of her life were spent in a Russian orphanage. Her basic needs were cared for, but there is some reported neglect in the normal interactions needed for developmental milestones. At the time of her adoption, she spoke only Russian and had delayed language and oral motor deficits with a vocabulary of fewer than twenty words. Maddie has made significant progress in motor skills and language aquisition, but still faces educational challenges that impact her academic progress. The specific focus of this case study will be on Maddie’s deficit in her ability to use oral communication and the effect it has on her participation in academic classroom discussions. The research question will be: How does a deficit in the ability to use oral communication effect the ELL participation in academic classroom discussions?
In reviewing literature for this case study many challenges were discovered for educating the ELL. Two relevant themes that apply to this case study became evident. The first is the teacher's role in getting the ELL to participate in academic classroom discussions. In the researcher's experience, teachers are the primary catalyst to any participation in classroom discussions. Specific training and specialized techniques are needed to engage an ELL. The second theme that impacts ELL participation in classroom discussions is the difference in conversational English and academic language. Although an ELL might be conversationally proficient, the acquisition of academic language requires different processes.
In looking at the teacher’s role, it has been noted by Brooks, K., & Thurston, L. P. (2010) and De Jong, E. J., & Harper, C. A. (2005) that the educational classroom is becoming increasingly diverse, both culturally and linguistically and a portion of these students have been identified as ELL. This has prompted higher expectations and responsibility from the classroom teacher. Educators are now being held accountable for the academic achievement of ELL student under the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, No Child Left Behind Act. The issue lies in the lack of skills provided to teachers acquire through their regular teacher preparation (De Jong, E. J., & Harper, C. A. 2005; Tarone, E., & Allwright, D. 2005). According to the National Center for Education...