Language Barrier Case Study

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Sometimes students have obstacles to contend with as they enter school. One such barrier can be language. The student I worked with is a Chinese first year student who is attempting to assimilate to AP class schedules. He is a 14-year old interested in learning the English language and is having problems not only learning the language but balancing out the needs of his identity versus the American culture. English Language Learners often must contend with several influences and deal with a new culture that may seem dauting and stressful[footnoteRef:1]. His name is Bo. [1: Larry Ferlazzo, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work (Santa Barbara, Calif: Linworth, 2010)]

Bo recently immigrated to the United States with his family two years ago. While Bo has learned conversational English and some grammar, he still has problems writing in English. The way to write simplified Chinese is different than English and so he had to get used to writing. So far, Bo continues to make progress. His ability to learn vocabulary has helped him improve in speaking in English. However, his writing progress has been slower.

I assessed this information through language, literacy, and content. The first step was identifying whether he was an English Language Learner (ELL).
While there are a variety of ways to identify ELLs, a language proficiency test can be used to gauge language skills[footnoteRef:2]. Bo mentioned when he first enrolled, he had to take to his parents, a home language survey which is a main indicator of an ELL student[footnoteRef:3]. The fact that he has been in an English language school for the last two years also helps in the assessment. I performed a Basic Inventory of Natural Language (BINL) and saw that he had good vocabulary. However, his grammar was lacking. Then I identified academic experience and noted he receives good grades in all his classes. [2: Ferlazzo, English Language Learners] [3: Ferlazzo]

Regarding the focus questions I identified his specific needs through the BINL and through the ACTFL WPTI. “The ACTFL WPTI is a standardized test for global assessment of functional writing abilities in a second language. The test measures how well a person spontaneously writes in a language by comparing his or her performance of specific writing tasks”[footnoteRef:4]. His needs revolved around improving grammar. For example, if he wrote a sentence like: “I enjoy there ice cream cones and its a….....

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