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Course ePortfolio

ESEC 413 Language Interaction in the Classroom

This course provides an overview of the philosophy, design, goals, and characteristics of school-based programs and structures designed to meet the needs of English learners (ELs) in secondary public school settings.


Admission and good standing in the program or consent of program director. Credential candidates taking this course must be placed in a classroom and/or have access to classrooms in working with a significant group of students designated as English learners (preferably emerging to expanding).  This course requires fieldwork observations.

Pedagogical Approach

My teaching philosophy emphasizes not only the application of Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory, but also draws from Barbara Rogoff’s cognitive apprenticeship model.  Learning should assist learners in becoming: developing self-knowledge, advancing an awareness of their connectedness to the world and the disciplines they study, and building metacognitive appreciation for their evolving instructional praxis.  I incorporate hands-on activities (e.g., close reading, double-entry and dialogic journals, eBulletin Boards, tabletop blogs) that leverage learners’ cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge into spoken and written discourse that makes thinking visible.  By applying this discursive perspective to my instructional practices, learning tasks are routinely interactional and reflective.  Through the study of multiple theories regarding language in use, sociolinguistics, cognition, and the foundations of learning, learners construct meanings and form connections between their acquired knowledge and the practical application of that knowledge in service to their emerging pedagogy.

I create authentic learning opportunities that apprentice students into community learning experiences in order to facilitate a transition from students using how they were taught to developing transactional or transformational pedagogies rooted in constructivist and post-modern praxes.  I plan instruction to stretch learners’ thinking; I try to challenge their conventional thinking concerning teaching and learning broadly, and specifically, the ways they read, discuss, and write.  Through discourse and collaboration, learners co-construct knowledge and make meaning.  Because learning is social, my role is to facilitate access to challenging and meaningful learning tasks dependent on student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction and offer guidance as needed.  I use writing and discussion to make meaning of what we read, integrating the four domains of language (reading, writing, speaking, listening) to teach teacher-candidates how to teach.

To make visible how language mediates learning, I incorporate strategies into my instruction that are grounded in the five key instructional themes about which learners were reading thereby apprenticing learners into the kind of instructional strategies that English learners require to learn content while simultaneously developing academic language proficiency.  These strategies include: modeling how to cultivate relationships and be culturally-responsive to students’ needs through asset-based teaching practices; teaching discipline-specific language skills by leveraging the four domains of language (reading, writing, listening, speaking); emphasizing productive language (writing, speaking) by having learners describe their reasoning, share explanations, make conjectures, justify conclusions, argue from evidence, and negotiate meaning from complex texts; fostering English learners’ autonomy by equipping them with linguistic strategies necessary to comprehend and use academic language in a variety of academic settings; using formative assessment tools to monitor students’ learning, provide timely and meaningful feedback

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are aligned to the California Teacher Professional Expectations (TPEs):

  1. Understand the professional role, expertise and skills required to teach English learners with integrity.
  2. Understand the importance of family and cultural background in the instruction of English learners and learn to apply concepts and strategies that contribute to respectful and productive teacher relationships with families and local communities. 
  3. Examine educational theories and research, explore language acquisition theories; including how first-language literacy connects to second language development. 
  4. Explore a variety of models of teaching and instructional practices that promote English language development, including the management of first and second language languages, classroom organization, and participation by specialists and paraprofessionals.
  5. Learn relevant state and federal laws pertaining to the education of English learners, and how they impact student placements and instructional programs.
  6. Learn to use state adopted standards for English language development in conjunction with state adopted academic content-standards and curriculum frameworks to select and use grade appropriate materials, technologies, plan instruction, design activities that will make advanced curriculum content comprehensible to English learners.
  7. Develop an understanding of the purposes, content and uses of California’s English Language Development Standards and English Language Development Test and effectively use appropriate measures for initial, progress monitoring, and summative assessment of English learners for language development and for content knowledge in the core curriculum.
  8. Explore the benefits of content-based reading and writing strategies for the effective reading instruction that includes explicit and meaningful-applied instruction in reading and writing and related language skills and strategies for English language learners and speakers of English that complies with provisions of the California Education Code.


Assignments connect course learning to the aforementioned strategies.  For example, students write an essay reflection of their field experience observations. Instead of turning in evidence of observations, I ask teacher candidates to write a reflective essay in which they analyze their observations and compare/contrast their field experience with course reading and learning.  Students construct a unit plan that includes a focus on developing a subject-specific lesson plan that demonstrates how language development will occur simultaneously during their content area instruction.  Specifically, students select a content standard and an ELD standard as the focus of the lesson.  Teacher-candidates must demonstrate how instruction and assessment are differentiated based on their students’ language proficiency levels.  Students also complete a concept map, illustrating their understanding of language interaction in the classroom.  From the concept map I can assess teacher-candidates’ thinking relative to the course—are they seeing relationships among the key themes? Are they making connections between the course learning and their developing pedagogy?

This class is organized in a manner that builds and capitalizes on students’ present interests, knowledge, and experiences in secondary schools. Throughout the quarter, I formatively assess students through various forms (e.g., class discussions, individual or group presentations, writing, and mastery of knowledge and skills based on completion of assignments).  These on-going and required assessments are intended to help me and you monitor your understanding, growth, and development in this course.  Additionally, I use the data collected from these assignments to customize the teaching support I extend in this class as well as to inform my course instruction and planning.

Other Information

Required texts:

Heritage, M. (2015). English Language Learners and the New Standards: Developing Language, Content Knowledge, and Analytical Practices.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2004) The Language of Schooling: A Functional Linguistics Perspective.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. (This book is a free PDF)

Zwiers, J. (2014) Building Academic Language: Meeting Common Core Standards, 2nd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Estimated textbook cost: $50 at most