Name of Author(s)
Aída Walqui, West Ed, San Francisco, California
Description of Contents
This digest is drawn from Access and Engagement: Program Design and Instructional Approaches for Immigrant Students in Secondary Schools, by Aída Walqui, the fourth volume in the Topics in Immigrant Education series.
High dropout rates among language-minority secondary school students are one indication that many schools are failing to adequately support the needs of these students. The belief that student dropout is due to a lack of proficiency in English often leads educators to overlook the economic, cultural, academic, and personal issues that immigrant adolescents must confront on a daily basis. To be effective, programs must begin with a compassionate understanding of these students and recognize and build on the identity, language, and knowledge they already possess. Instruction developed for native-English-speaking students may not be appropriate for students who are still learning English. To engage immigrant adolescents in school, educators must provide them with avenues to explore and strengthen their ethnic identities and languages while developing their ability to study and work in this country.
This digest discusses 10 principles for developing effective teaching and learning contexts for immigrants adolescents and profiles one program that has been successful in promoting the academic success of its students by implementing these principles.
Ten Principles of Effective Instruction for Immigrant Students
1. The culture of the classroom fosters the development of a community of learners, and all students are part of that community.
2. Good language teaching involves conceptual and academic development.
3. Students' experiential backgrounds provide a point of departure and an anchor in the exploration of new ideas.
4. Teaching and learning focus on substantive ideas that are organized cyclically.
5. New ideas and tasks are contextualized.
6. Academic strategies, sociocultural expectations, and academic norms are taught explicitly.
7. Tasks are relevant, meaningful, engaging, and varied.
8. Complex and flexible forms of collaboration maximize learners' opportunities to interact while making sense of language and content.
9. Students are given multiple opportunities to extend their understandings and apply their knowledge.
10. Authentic assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning.
Calexico High School: Restructuring for Success
Calexico High School in Calexico, California, is attempting to put the principles described above into practice. Calexico is a bilingual/bicultural community on the southern border of the United States; 98% of the students are Latino, and 80% are English language learners.
Through their commitment to providing all students with more opportunities to succeed, the staff at Calexico High School have created a highly effective secondary school program for immigrant students. (For a description of other successful secondary school programs for immigrant students, see Walqui, 2000).
The 10 principles of effective programs discussed in this digest can contribute to the success of immigrant secondary school students by creating positive and engaging learning contexts. A strong commitment to the educational success of immigrant students is ultimately the foundation for all successful programs. For society, this commitment involves supporting the development of effective programs through resources, funding, professional development, and research.