Teaching the Academic Language and Concepts of Language Arts to Secondary Long-Term English Learners

Mary Soto


While the majority of English language learners are found in elementary schools, an alarming number of these students are entering secondary schools. Many of these secondary students are long-term English learners (LTELs), students who have been in U.S. schools for seven years or longer. Long-term English learners struggle with academic success, and educators need to find ways to support them.

In this qualitative study, the effects of teaching academic vocabulary and concepts to 10th grade Hispanic LTELs in a language arts class at a large, South Texas high school were explored. The researcher observed students as they were involved in five different pedagogical structures, interviewed the students to determine their perception of how those structures supported their learning, and reviewed student work done while involved in those structures.

The most successful practices for these students included teacher modeling and grouping with positive interdependence. Findings revealed that although some pedagogical structures were somewhat effective in helping LTELs with the acquisition of the academic vocabulary and concepts of English language arts, these students still need a great amount of scaffolding and monitoring combined with additional time to be consistently successful.


English language learners; Long-term English learners; academic language; language arts; secondary schools

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