ERIC Identifier: ED301070
Publication Date: 1988-10-00
Author: Freeman, David - Freeman, Yvonne
Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Sheltered English Instruction. ERIC Digest.
The number of limited-English-proficient (LEP) students in U.S. schools has
increased dramatically in recent years. Waggoner (1984) estimates that by the
year 2000, 3.4 million students in this country will speak a language other than
English as their mother tongue. School districts are faced with the task of
preparing these LEP students to keep up academically with their
native-English-speaking peers. One way to help LEP students succeed academically
is to recognize the need to develop their cognitive academic language
proficiency (CALP)--the kind of proficiency required to make sense of academic
language in context-reduced situations (Cummins, 1979, 1981). CALP can take up
to seven years to acquire; even "advantaged" non-English-speakers require 5-8
years to score as well as native speakers on standardized tests (Collier, 1987).
Accordingly, if teachers of English as a second language (ESL) focus solely on
developing students' linguistic competence, the students may fall too far behind
in academic subjects to ever catch up.
One type of instruction that offers promise in helping LEP students develop
academic competence while also developing English proficiency is sheltered
WHAT IS SHELTERED ENGLISH?
Sheltered English is an
instructional approach used to make academic instruction in English
understandable to LEP students. Students in these classes are "sheltered" in
that they do not compete academically with native English speakers since the
class includes only LEP students. In the regular classroom, English fluency is
assumed. In contrast, in the sheltered English classroom, teachers use physical
activities, visual aids, and the environment to teach important new words for
concept development in mathematics, science, history, home economics, and other
subjects (National Clearinghouse on Bilingual Education, 1987).
The methods that teachers employ in sheltered classes include the following:
- Extralinguistic cues such as visuals, props, and body language (Parker,
- Linguistic modifications such as repetition and pauses during speech
- Interactive lectures with frequent comprehension checks;
- Cooperative learning strategies (Kagan 1985);
- Focus on central concepts rather than on details by using a thematic
- Development of reading strategies such as mapping and writing to develop
thinking (Langer & Applebee, 1985).
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SHELTERED ENGLISH
Sheltered English programs may be either bilingual or monolingual,
but English instruction is the key element in both. One model described by
Weinhouse (1986) defines sheltered English as "a program of instruction for
language minority students consisting of three components: sheltered English
instruction, primary language instruction, and mainstream English instruction" (p.4).
Krashen (1985) presents a detailed model for this type of sheltered English
Beginning: (1) Mainstream (Art, Music, PE); (2) Sheltered (ESL); (3) First
Language (All Core Subjects).
Intermediate: (1) Mainstream (Art, Music, PE): (2) Sheltered (ESL, Math,
Science); (3) First Language (Language Arts, Social Studies).
Advanced: (1) Mainstream (Art, Music, PE, Science, Math); (2) Sheltered
(Language Arts, Social Studies); (3) First Language (Enrichment Program).
Mainstream: (1) Mainstream (All Subjects); (2) Sheltered (Blank); (3) First
Language (Enrichment Program). In this model, students are mainstreamed
initially in music, art, and physical education (PE)--the subjects least
linguistically demanding. Students study English in a sheltered class and all
core subjects in their first language. At the intermediate stage, math and
science as well as English are taught in sheltered classes, while social studies
and language arts are taught in the student's first language. At the advanced
level, language arts and social studies are sheltered, and the student is
mainstreamed for all other classes.
The goal of the program is to mainstream the student gradually, but since
some instruction occurs in the primary language, bilingualism is also possible.
However, in some school situations, especially at the secondary level, the
primary instruction component is infeasible (unless the instructor has the
benefit of native-speaking aides to assist LEP students with individual
instruction) because either a variety of native languages are spoken by the
students or the number of speakers of any given language is small.
Schifini (1985) acknowledges the desirability of programs with first language
instruction and asks: "How does the American history teacher who has students
who speak eleven different primary languages in his or her classroom make the
class understandable at all?" (p.2). Schifini proposes a sheltered English
program for students with intermediate English proficiency. At the first level
of this two-level program, students study ESL and take sheltered math and
science classes. At the second level, sheltered classes in social studies are
added as students continue with ESL instruction.
WHO ARE THE INSTRUCTORS?
Typically, sheltered English
classes are taught by regular classroom teachers who receive in-service
instruction on ways to make subject-area content comprehensible for LEP
students. However, ESL teachers may assume part of the responsibility for the
curriculum and teach a class such as an ESL/social studies (or sheltered social
HOW IS SHELTERED ENGLISH DIFFERENT FROM OTHER APPROACHES TO
TEACHING LEP STUDENTS?
As Weinhouse (1986) suggests, sheltered English programs
can contain key elements of three other approaches to teaching
limited-English-proficient students: bilingual education, immersion, and
- Bilingual Education. Bilingual programs have been effective in developing
both English proficiency and academic competence by instruction in the primary
language as well as in English. Where appropriate and feasible, sheltered
English programs also include first language instruction.
- Immersion Education. Immersion programs teach a second language by
providing sheltered instruction in content areas to students with limited
language proficiency. In foreign language immersion programs, English-speaking
students receive sheltered instruction in languages such as French, Spanish, or
German. (In sheltered English programs, the sheltered instruction is in
- Content-based Instruction. A number of programs, including sheltered
English, have been designed with the aim of teaching English through the content
Sheltered English instruction includes a variety
of techniques to help regular classroom teachers make content-area material
comprehensible for ESL students who already have some English proficiency. The
programs may include a primary language instruction component. Sheltered English
programs have proven successful in the development of academic competence in LEP
students because such programs concentrate on the simultaneous development of
content-area and ESL proficiency.
Collier, V.(1987). Age and rate of acquisition
of second language for academic purposes. "TESOL Quarterly," 21, 617-641.
Cummins, J. (1979). "Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Bilingual Education Paper Series, Vol. 3, No.2." (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 257 312).
Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. In "Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical frame-work." Los Angeles: Evaluation, Dissemination, and Assessment Center.
Kagan, S. (1985). "Cooperative learning resources for teachers." Riverside, CA: Spencer Kagan.
Krashen, S. (1985). "Insights and inquiries." Hayward, CA: Alemany Press.
Langer, J., & Applebee, A. (1985). Learning to write: Learning to think. "Educational Horizons," 64, 36-38.
National Clearinghouse on Bilingual Education (1987, Oct-Nov). "Sheltered English: An approach to content area instruction for limited-English-proficient students. Forum, 10" (6), 1,3.
Parker, D. (1985). "Sheltered English: Theory to practice." Paper presented at in-service workshop. San Diego, CA.
Schifini, A. (1985). "Sheltered English: Content area instruction for limited English proficiency students." Los Angeles County Office of Education.
Waggoner, D. (1984). The need for bilingual education: Estimate from the 1980 census. "NABE Journal," 7 (2), 1-14.
Weinhouse, M. (1986). "Sheltered English: A study in the San Diego Unified School District." (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 270 995).
FOR FURTHER READING
Chamot, A., & O'Malley, M. (1987). The cognitive academic language
learning approach: A bridge to the mainstream. "TESOL Quarterly," 21, 227-49.
Crandall, JoAnn, Ed. (1987). "ESL through content-area instruction: Mathematics, science, social studies. Language in education: Theory and practice, No. 69." (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 283 387).
Freeman, D., Freeman, Y., & Gonzales, G. (1987). Success for LEP
students: The Sunnyside sheltered English program. "TESOL Quarterly," 21, 361-367.
(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 279 193).