Introduction

A Learning Strategies Resource Guide for Elementary Immersion Language Teachers

After reading this introduction you will be able to:

If you are an elementary immersion teacher who believes that all students can achieve high standards by becoming more effective learners, then this guide is for you. Everything within these pages is premised on the belief that students can become more effective and efficient learners if they are provided the effective learning tools and instructed on how to use them. These tools are learning strategies, that is, the mental processes and actions that students can use to help them complete learning tasks. By becoming familiar with the learning tools, students can improve their language learning abilities. Before we begin our discussion of learning strategies instruction, we provide some general background on elementary immersion programs.

What is Foreign Language Immersion Education?

Children in elementary foreign language immersion programs learn content areas through a second language. Immersion programs typically begin in kindergarten or first grade and continue through sixth grade. In full immersion programs, students learn initial literacy skills and all content subjects through the second language. In partial immersion programs, students typically spend half the day learning selected subjects through the second language, while the other half is spent in native English language classrooms learning other required subject matter (Curtain & Pesola, 1994; Met & Galloway, 1992). According to the Directory of Total and Partial Immersion Language Programs in U.S. Schools, 119 elementary language immersion programs are now established in the United States (Rhodes & Seydel, 1999). The majority of programs are partial immersion programs located in urban or suburban area public schools. Most programs instruct students in grades one through six and teach the target language through math and science content areas (Fortune & Jorstad, 1996).

Although Spanish is the most commonly taught language in immersion programs, Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Dutch, English, Eskimo (Inupiaq and Yup'ik), French, German, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Russian and are also taught in the elementary immersion settings (Rhodes & Seydel, 1999). For more information about elementary immersion programs in the U.S., visit the following web sites:

How to Use This Guide

Chapter One: ėLanguage Learning Strategies,î defines and describes learning strategies. It includes a chart of twenty learning strategies and their definitions that is followed by more detailed descriptions and examples of the strategies

Chapter Two: ėTeaching Students to Think about Learning,î explains Strategic Thinking. Chapter Two also describes how to use Strategic Thinking to organize strategies and presents ways to introduce it to elementary-school students.

Chapter Three: ėTeaching Learning Strategies,î presents the principal elements and theoretical organization of learning strategies instruction using the teaching sequence identified in the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) framework (Chamot & OíMalley, 1994). It also shows teachers how to write a learning strategies lesson based on the CALLA model. This model is a language and content learning approach that incorporates learning strategies instruction.

Chapter Four: ėThe Scope and Sequence for Learning Strategies Instruction,î outlines the purpose and development of the scope and sequence for learning strategies instruction in the elementary immersion setting. It then suggests ways to use the scope and sequence as a guide for selecting and sequencing strategies to introduce to students at each grade level, and how they can be used to enhance learning in the different content areas.

Chapter Five: ėSample Learning Strategies Lessons,î contains lesson plans that can be adapted to fit individual classroom needs. Designed jointly by elementary immersion teachers and NCLRC staff, the lessons illustrate learning strategies instruction for a wide variety of grade levels, languages, and subject areas.

The final chapter, Chapter Six: ėA Review of the Literature on Language Learning Strategies Instruction,î includes a short review of the literature on language learning strategies.

The Appendices contain further resources for teachers:

Appendix A: Development of the Elementary Immersion Learning Strategies Resource Guide: An explanation of how the Guide was developed and who was involved in the project.
Appendix B: Anansi and the Stories: Learning Strategies Version: An example of how to adapt a story to teach learning strategies.
Appendix C: Stories for Strategic Thinkers: An Annotated Bibliography: A descriptive list of other stories to help teach learning strategies.
Appendix D: Strategy Focus in Stories: A table showing the learning strategies highlighted by each story in Appendix C.
Appendix E: Examples of Play Activities: A chart of suggestions for play activities with associated learning strategies and academic applications.
Appendix F: Model for Developing a Content- and Language-Based Learning Strategies Lesson: A template to help you develop your own learning strategies lessons.
Appendix G: Learning Strategies Lesson Planning Form: A worksheet to help you plan how you will introduce learning strategies into a lesson.
Appendix H: Excerpts from Student Think-Alouds and Sample Think-Aloud Questions: Insights into how students express their use of learning strategies, and questions to encourage your students to talk about their own strategic thinking.
Appendix I: Learning Strategies Lists and Definitions in Foreign Languages: The learning strategies chart from Chapter 1 in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Russian for immersion classrooms.
Appendix J: Worksheets for Learning Strategies Instruction: Blank and sample worksheets that may be helpful in creating a learner-centered, strategic thinking classroom.