ERIC Identifier: ED377138
Publication Date: 1993-11-00
Author: Pereira, Carolyn
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Educating ESL Students for Citizenship in a Democratic Society.
The 1990 Census reported that nearly 6.3 million children between the ages of
5 and 17 are English-as-second language (ESL) students; that is, they speak a
language other than English at home. Although school enrollment dropped by 4
percent between 1980 and 1990, ESL students increased by 41.2 percent. According
to the National Association for Bilingual Education, between 2.3 and 3.5 million
students are limited in their English proficiency. The Immigration Act of 1990
was designed to further diversify our population. The median age of these
immigrants is generally younger than that of native-born residents. The fact
that these immigrants are of child-bearing age, and generally have families
larger than the United States' average, may further increase the number of
non-English speaking students served by the nation's education system.
A basic need of this growing population of ESL students is learning how to
cope with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States.
So civic education should pervade the curriculum for ESL students. This ERIC
Digest treats five facets of civic education for ESL students: (1) needs and
goals, (2) content and curriculum materials, (3) use of cooperative learning,
(4) use of outside resource persons, and (5) national organizations that provide
resources for teachers.
NEEDS AND GOALS
What happens when these ESL students enter
United States schools? What are their civic education needs? Joan M. First
writes (1988, 205), "Young immigrants enter the United States classrooms with
cultural scripts modeled on the material and social environments of their
homelands. Their behavior norms stem from lives they are no longer living but
cannot forget. To survive, they must integrate old scripts with their new
Nowhere is this acculturation process more essential than in the area of
United States civic culture--government, laws, criminal and civil rights, and
civic values. In their home countries, however, ESL students and their parents
may have experienced political systems very different from our own. Some have
come from tiny villages where the official law or justice system rarely
intrudes. Others arrive from nations where government is repressive and
omnipresent. Thus, the need for good civic education is urgent for those new to
this culture. To live in any kind of harmony with United States institutions and
to make a productive contribution to national democratic life, students from
other cultures need both information about and experiences in the political
system of the United States.
A key to personal fulfillment and social responsibility in the United States
is acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed for effective
democratic citizenship. The principles, practices, and values of U.S.
constitutional democracy comprise the cultural core of our pluralistic society.
This is the social cement that provides unity for a diverse population with
ancestral connections to most cultures throughout our contemporary world. This
is also a means to personal empowerment and achievement of individual interests.
Citizens in possession of this democratic civic culture are able to protect
their private rights, pursue personal interests, and contribute to the public
good. So, a primary goal of education in schools for ESL students is civic
education for life in a democratic society.
Learning English is an essential part of this civic education process.
Language is both the vehicle and the most profound expression of culture. In the
past, language instruction has often been provided apart from content-area
study. However, ESL students can achieve higher levels of language development
while learning subject matter. This provides educators with the opportunity to
develop and implement curricula to help students understand political principles
and practices in the United States, and learn values and skills necessary for
effective civic participation.
The increasing number of limited English proficient students and their
special civic education needs place greater demand on teachers to upgrade their
own knowledge and skills. ESL teachers need education in the content areas of
civics and political science. Social studies teachers need training in
incorporating language teaching strategies and presenting civic concepts to
students from foreign cultures. Both groups may benefit from increased knowledge
of civic education and its relationships to multicultural education.
CONTENT AND MATERIALS OF INSTRUCTION
ESL teachers will
usually have weaker backgrounds than social studies teachers in U.S. history and
government. An ESL teacher might need professional development workshops on the
U.S. Constitution and the development of constitutional law through Supreme
Court decisions. Many ESL teachers, for example, might need to learn about the
most significant landmark decisions of the Supreme Court and how those decisions
have expanded the constitutional rights of individuals in the United States.
Social studies teachers are usually not as skilled in teaching language or
perceiving themselves as language teachers. They can profit from professional
development programs on teaching English to ESL students. They need to learn how
to select and use reading materials that are related to the lives and language
capacities of their ESL students. Good citizenship, however, is far more complex
than the simple pictures and sentences sometimes used with ESL students. The
dilemma, therefore, is identifying materials which are both accessible to the
students and can give them a more realistic and dynamic understanding of
citizenship. Techniques for developing language skills include teaching new
vocabulary directly or helping students use context clues. Word study can be
encouraged by approaches such as "finder's fees"--students receive points for
submitting proof of having read, heard, or used words that have been introduced.
Obviously, a variety of stimuli such as demonstrations, visual aids, or
role-plays help make language more comprehensible to students.
Both ESL teachers and social studies teachers can profit from professional
development experiences in multicultural education. Through these experiences,
teachers can learn to deal more sensitively and effectively with cultural
diversity in the classroom. Further, they will increase their capacities to
compensate for inadequate social studies textbooks by selection or personal
development of supplementary instructional materials pertaining to ethnic and
racial diversity in the United States.
An effective teaching strategy for the
civic education of ESL students involves cooperative learning; that is, students
working together as a group to perform a task, which can only be done if all
participate. Breaking individual isolation, learning to work with other
students, and creating a group product are important experiences for immigrant
students. Often, immigrant students' home cultures favor a cooperative approach.
They may learn more easily and comfortably when this model is used in
conjunction with the individualistic competitive approaches that are often the
primary structure of learning in the United States. Working in pairs and small
groups provides the opportunity for more extensive language practice. Language
experiences can be enhanced while learning material of high interest and
relevance. The methodology can also be a powerful tool in helping them develop
the skills and attitudes necessary for living in a democratic, pluralistic
society. Cooperative learning includes the following characteristics.
* Positive Interdependence. Everyone must realize that it is essential to
work together to accomplish the task. Naturally everyone must understand the
task and have the skills within the group to complete the task. For example, the
group is not done until everyone in the group has learned the material.
* Interaction within the Group. Both the task and the physical arrangements
increase the interaction. Higher level thinking produces better interaction so
that the task assigned should go beyond mere recall leading to students forming
opinions based on fact and logic. Students may not have had this kind of
experience in the schools they attended in their native lands. Interaction can
also be enhanced by assigning roles. Physical arrangements need to keep the
group facing each other and far apart enough from other groups to keep from
distracting each other. Group formation, although always difficult, can be
particularly challenging when confronted with a variety of languages and
cultures that have historical and political disagreements.
* Accountability of Individual Students. Writing assignments, short speeches,
short essay tests--as well as holding all of the individuals accountable for
reporting on the progress of the group--help the students understand that they
must individually learn the material and provide support for more competitive
* Explicit Teaching of Small Group Skills. These skills include such things
as active listening, questioning, clarifying, elaborating, challenging,
summarizing, and encouraging others to participate--all important skills in the
larger democratic society. To begin, students with limited English proficiency
might work in pairs developing a joint summary of the facts of a case; one
student summarizes and the other asks questions to ensure the summary is
complete and accurate. The larger the group; the more difficult the task may
become. If the class includes both ESL students and other students, they might
be paired so that an ESL student works with a non-ESL student. Thus, the ESL
student's language development would be promoted. Students also should be part
of the evaluation process to improve the workings of the small groups.
USING OUTSIDE RESOURCE PERSONS
Outside resource people can
be both helpful in providing current information and creating another contact in
their new country. If recruited from ethnic and racial groups represented in the
class, they may also help overcome the language barrier.
Classroom lessons need to be structured to take advantage of the person's
experience and expertise and foster interaction between the students and adult.
Specific questions generated by the students and sent to the resource person in
advance are a simple way to start. They also can react to positions taken by
students, help prepare students for role-plays, assist groups in discussions or
development of arguments, or moderate a class discussion.
Law enforcement agencies, constituent service offices for elected officials,
bar associations, courts, and community groups are good places to start. This
may be the first time that immigrant students have had positive interaction with
NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WITH RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS
following list includes organizations that provide free or inexpensive resources
and services for teachers of ESL students.
Francisco, CA 94123
Center for Applied Linguistics
22nd Street, NW
Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago
Angeles, CA 90023
National Association of Bilingual Education
L. Street, NW
National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and
Cruz, CA 95064
National Coalition of Advocates for Students
Boyleston Street, #737
National Council of Christians and Jews
North Michigan Avenue
National Council of La Raza
Angeles, CA 90017
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
The following list of
resources includes references used to prepare this Digest and related documents.
The items followed by an ED number are available in microfiche and/or paper
copies from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS). For information about
prices, contact EDRS, 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, Virginia
22153-2842; telephone numbers are (703) 440-1440 and (800) 443-3742. Entries
followed by an EJ number, annotated monthly in CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN
EDUCATION (CIJE), are not available through EDRS. However, they can be located
in the journal section of most libraries by using the bibliographic information
provided, requested through Interlibrary Loan, or ordered from the UMI reprint
Banks, James A. "Multicultural Education for Freedom's Sake." EDUCATIONAL
LEADERSHIP 49 (January 1992): 32-36. EJ 437 555.
Brady, Sheila, and others. IT'S YOURS: THE BILL OF RIGHTS. LESSONS ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS FOR STUDENTS OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. Chicago, IL: Constitutional Rights Foundation, 1991. ED 346 000.
Butts, R. Freeman. THE MORALITY OF DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP: GOALS FOR CIVIC EDUCATION IN THE REPUBLIC'S THIRD CENTURY. Calabasas, CA: Center for Civic Education, 1988. ED 341 593.
Cantoni-Harvey, G. CONTENT-AREA LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION: APPROACHES AND
STRATEGIES. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1987.
First, Joan M. "Immigrant Students in U.S. Public Schools: Challenges with
Solutions." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 70 (November 1988): 205-210. EJ 379 978.
GUIDE FOR NATIVE LANGUAGE AND CONTENT AREA LITERACY PROGRAMSFOR HIGH SCHOOL HAITIAN CREOLE-SPEAKING STUDENTS. Brooklyn, NY: New York City Board of Education, 1992. ED 353 064.
Mattingly, Robert M., and Ronald L. VanSickle. COOPERATIVE LEARNING AND
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOCIAL STUDIES: JIGSAW II, 1991. ED 348 267.
Mergendoller, John R., and Elly B. Pardo. AN EVALUATION OF THE MACMAGIC
PROGRAM AT DAVIDSON MIDDLE SCHOOL. Novato, CA: Beryl Buck Institute for
Education, 1991. ED 351 143.
NEW VOICES: IMMIGRANT STUDENTS IN U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Boston, MA: National Coalition of Advocates for Students, 1988. ED 297 063.
Nunes, Evelyn H., ed. LEARNING RESOURCES EVALUATION MANUAL. Richmond, VA:
Virginia Adult Education and Literacy Resource Center, 1992. ED 353 858.
Patrick, John J. "Immigration in the Curriculum." SOCIAL EDUCATION 50 (March
1986): 172-176. EJ 332 253.
Short, Deborah. HOW TO INTEGRATE LANGUAGE AND CONTENT INSTRUCTION: A TRAINING
MANUAL. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1991.
Slavin, Robert E. COOPERATIVE LEARNING. New York: Longman, 1983.