Science for English Learners #1

Episode 104: Veronica Betancourt, M.A.
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(March 30, 2011) Learning the academic language of science can be tough for most students, but it is an even bigger challenge for students who are also learning English. Fortunately, teachers can structure their instruction in ways that support both the learning of science and the language of English in dynamic ways. Veronica Betancourt, M.A., an IDRA education associate, describes the first of seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. The first strategy is: Building upon English learner language proficiency for effective science instruction. Veronica provides several examples for the classroom teacher that she has used in teacher training and mentoring. She is interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. Send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.

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See resource links and show notes. (14.7 MB; 00:15:55 min.)

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Resources

Science Instructional Strategies for English Learners ~ A Guide for Elementary and Secondary Grades
by Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., IDRA

Differentiating Science Instruction using Language Proficiency Standards
By Veronica Betancourt , M.A., and Kristin Grayson , M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter

Aligning for Success: Using Contextual Analysis in Science Professional Development
By Kristin Grayson , M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter

Breaking the Bonds of Boredom in Science and Math
By Veronica Betancourt , M.A., IDRA Newsletter

Releasing the Mathematician and Scientist within Students
By Kathy Brown and Veronica Betancourt , M.A., IDRA Newsletter

You Can’t Win if You Don’t Get to Play – Effectively Engaging All English Language Learners
By Adela Solís, Ph.D., and Kristin Grayson , M.Ed.,  IDRA Newsletter

Science Smart!
IDRA’s professional development that provides teachers with scientifically-based strategies to teach initiative scientific concepts, critical-thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and processes.

Related podcasts

Science Success for English Learners – August 26, 2011

Pitfalls and Promises of Interactive Science Notebooks – October 15, 2010

Learning Content Learning English – September 30, 2010
Beyond the Worksheet in the Science Classroom – November 21, 2008

Teaching Opportunities through Discovery on Science – May 19, 2008 

Show Notes

* Kristin talks about the overall purpose of a new Science Instructional Strategies for English Learners ~ A Guide for Elementary and Secondary Grades, from IDRA and how it will help teachers to work successfully with English language learners in science.

* Kristin introduces the first main strategy in the guide: building upon the students’ existing levels of English proficiency at the time they’re in the classroom.

* Kristin offers an overview of some of the techniques for teaching new science vocabulary words to English language learners.

* Kristin explains why questions on science exams often have to be changed, based on the varying English proficiency skills of the students.

* Kristin talks about how students must “negotiate for meaning” in the conversations they have with each other.

* Using research from Jim Cummins, Kristin discusses three ways that teachers can expose their students to the academic language of science: 

  • Talking about form
  • Talking about meaning
  • Talking about the specific use of language functions

* Kristin notes the importance of observing how different students responding to instruction, and then modifying techniques as needed.

* Kristin considers how science is organized -- and thus taught -- differently from other content areas, such as literature. 

Show length: 15:00

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