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Continuum of Strategies for ESL Learners Essay

Continuum of Strategies for ESL Learners

The educational needs of English language learners are specific and remote from the traditional needs and requirements for learners within the regular classroom setting. This particular claim is fuelled by the fact that conventional lessons and courses become difficult and more challenging without the knowledge, skills, and competencies that reaches the standards excellent proficiency in the English language. For this reason, not only are educational programs, curricula, and the quality of teacher education programs being molded to address multiculturalism under the context of education, but specifically, content instruction for English learners is set to follow strict standards and guidelines to fully address the needs and requirements for effectual English language learning. With this in mind, the remainder of this text will discuss the continuum of strategies that best facilitate the learning process for English language learners. In addition, the appropriateness of the SIOP model to various learning situations will be evaluated in order to determine how this particular model should be implemented to the advantage of the learners.

The SIOP Model constitutes a three-tier representation of various strategies from which educators are supposed to draw out strategies, techniques, or approaches to teaching English language learners. The three primary strategies in teaching include metacognitive, cognitive, and social or affective strategies. The structure or design of these three primary strategies should be able to meet the standards of TESOL which specifically discusses the strategies in approaching pedagogical processes or instruction for English language learners. The process also involves scaffolding techniques, questioning techniques, and considerations to various teaching scenarios which greatly affects learning results and outcomes as well as the accomplishment of set learning goals and objectives. After reviewing, analyzing, and designing strategies that constitute the three primary strategies and the standards set by TESOL, the teachers or educators should be prepared to implement or deliver competently and proficiently the content of instruction. (Echeverria, Vogt, & Short, 2004)

The first tier – the primary strategies – are identified as learning strategies since they focus on the inherent factors that influence the learning process that educators might be able to tap into and maneuver in order to affect meaningful or purposeful and efficient learning. This means that it is a student-centered approach to the teaching-learning process since it focuses on how learning is to be facilitated by considering the needs and concerns of the learners. (Echeverria, Vogt, & Short, 2004)

Metacognitive strategies focus on observing, monitoring, analyzing, and congealing thinking processes in order to match the content of instruction as well as the instructional materials and techniques implemented. Metacognitive strategies are effective for self-checks, self-evaluation, or instructional activities that allow learners to assess or evaluate whether they are approaching learning activities efficiently and appropriately, perhaps through introspective questions or inquiries (ex. asking the learners whether they think the process by which they solved instructional problems were the best way). Unlike cognitive strategies, metacognitive strategies will not work on actual instructional activities that are clearly focused on the direct achievement of goals and objectives (ex. objective paper-and-pencil tests). Cognitive strategies, on the other hand, focus on the actual stimulation of thinking processes in order to initiate and regulated the learning. These particular strategies are also commonly implemented through questioning or inquiry but not on the effectiveness or appropriateness of thinking but on specific details that focus on learning content and course materials (ex. recitation, objective tests).

However, activities that were designed to stimulate the affective faculties are not incorporated with cognitive strategies (ex. physical activities). The third strategy that is the social or affective strategies, focus on cooperative or collaborative learning that draws out personal emotive experiences and points of view as contributions to discussions and problem-solving strategies. This is best utilized for group projects or activities, especially those that require brainstorming, discussions, and problem resolutions (ex. panel discussions, brainstorming). Strategies for social and affective competencies are not applicable for formal assessment or evaluation that focuses on facts (ex. objective paper-and-pencil tests). (Bauder, 2005)

The second and third tiers, which focus on the standards and guidelines of TESOL, as well as other techniques of teaching such as the scaffolding techniques, the questioning techniques, and the consideration of the teaching scenario, is a teacher-centered approach in developing strategies, approaches, and techniques in going about the teaching-learning process. This is because the design of the aforementioned strategies relies on the ability or capability of educators to structure and implement such strategies and techniques while considering the teaching scenario in order to fulfill their roles as facilitators of learning successfully. (Echeverria, Vogt, & Short, 2004)

The TESOL standards focus on the educator’s ability to influence the learning strategies that ESL learners utilize during the teaching-learning process. The top three learning goals that educators should assist ESL learners to achieve include the use of appropriate and efficient learning strategies to realize communicative competence, the construction and application of knowledge, skills, and competencies, as well as to extend their knowledge, skills, and competencies in sociolinguistics and socioculturalism. Read also about application of behaviorism in education

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. These particular learning goals are not only concerns for ESL learners but educators as well as they are expected to influence and assist learners in accomplishing them. This shall be realized by educators by developing admirable and desirable behaviors that focus on strategic teaching processes. (Bauder, 2005)

Scaffolding techniques – either verbal or procedural – look into the role of the teacher as the catalyst for learning as his influence is expected to increase the ability of learners to learn independently while affecting comprehensive and meaningful learning in the process. Scaffolding techniques are best implemented during lecture or discussions when students are prompted to answer questions once in a while and in other situations when learning experiences and successes are developed and improved through the help of other well-learned individuals. Scaffolding techniques are not suitable for individual activities (ex. individually administered paper-and-pencil tests). The questioning technique concerns the capacity of questions thrown by educators to initiate critical thinking. Following the taxonomy of educational objectives, questions should be able to achieve critical, complex, and abstract thinking as means to further knowledge for the learners. This is implemented during recitation and paper-and-pencil tests, and such. However, questioning techniques are not also appropriate for activities that are practical or psychomotor in nature. (Bauder, 2005)

The teaching scenarios consider how the educator goes about in planning learning content and instruction, particularly on how strategies, techniques, and approaches are incorporated into the lesson for efficient, optimum, and appropriate learning. The consideration of teaching scenarios should be applied during the planning of the lesson for watchfulness on possible flaws or errors that might be avoided, the consideration of the aptitude of the learners, the obtainment of appropriate instructional materials and the design of efficient instructional activities, and such, and during the implementation of the lesson for corrective purposes. The consideration of the teaching scenario should be part of the plan, and not an impulsive or spontaneous so as to avoid mistakes that are detrimental to learning. (Bauder, 2005)

Overall, the SIOP model, composed on three tiers of strategic approaches to the teaching-learning process, combines teacher-centered and student-centered strategies in order to present a representation of how educators should go about the teaching-learning process. In addition, it also provides a list of various strategies that educators should review, analyze, and implement judiciously based on perceived teaching scenarios as well as the unique and extraordinary learning needs and concerns of ESL learners in order to achieve meaningful or purposeful learning successfully.


Bauder, T. (2005). How to Design, Structure, and Implement SIOP Model Programs: Focus on Current Research, OELA Summit. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved January 12, 2009, from NCELA. Website:             http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/oela/summit2005/presentations/TomBauder.pdf

Echeverria, J., Vogt, M. E., & Short, D. J. (2004). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model, 2nd Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. Boston, MA:    Allyn & Bacon,

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