English as a Second Language, Core Programs

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Language Repertoire

In the Secondary Cycle One and Cycle Two Core ESL programs, the Language Repertoire section consists of three elements essential to the development of students' linguistic competence in English: functional language, vocabulary and language conventions. This knowledge enables students to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts.

At the elementary level, students developed a personal language repertoire that allowed them to participate in all classroom situations in English. At the secondary level, students continue to develop their language repertoire with support from human resources (e.g. teacher, peers) and material resources (e.g. functional language posters, word banks, grammar references, dictionaries).

A. Functional Language

In the secondary-level Core ESL programs, functional language refers to varied fixed expressions (i.e. ready-made utterances) and open-ended prompts (i.e. sentence starters) that are taught and used in context to facilitate oral interaction.

At the elementary level, students learned and experimented with functional language (i.e. useful expressions and vocabulary) through various classroom routines and meaningful communicative tasks. In Secondary Cycle One, functional language allows students to meet a variety of communicative needs when participating in classroom life in English and carrying out tasks that often deal with familiar topics. In Secondary Cycle Two, students use more varied functional language to fully take part in classroom life, and to carry out tasks that deal with increasingly complex and abstract topics.

Functional language contributes directly to the development of the competency Interacts orally in English and supports the development of the competencies Reinvests understanding of texts and Writes and produces texts.

      
Language Repertoire
Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.
Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.
 
Student reinvests knowledge.

E: The letter E shows links between the elementary- and secondary-level ESL programs.

Elementary

Secondary
Cycle
One
Cycle
Two
  1. Functional Language
  1 2 3 4 5
  1. Social conventions
    1. Greets and responds to greetings
      (e.g. How are you? Not so bad, and you? What’s new?)
E          
    1. Takes leave
      (e.g. Take care! See you later! I have to go.)
E          
    1. Uses expressions of courtesy
      (e.g. Please. Thank you very much! You’re more than welcome.)
E          
    1. Begins/ends telephone exchanges and uses voice mail
      (e.g. Hello, I’m calling about…,Thank you for calling. Please leave a message after the beep.)
       
  1. Apologies
    1. Apologizes and responds to apologies
      (e.g. I apologize. Sorry, I didn’t mean to…, Don’t worry about it.)
E          
  1. Politely interrupting a conversation
    1. Interrupts a conversation politely
      (e.g. Excuse me. Sorry to interrupt, but…, Before you continue…)
       
  1. Identification and description
    1. Describes basic characteristics of people, animals, objects, places
      (e.g. He looks..., This is a..., She is very intelligent.)
E          
    1. Asks about people, animals, objects, places
      (e.g. Who are they? Where is it? What’s your…?)
E      
    1. Describes events, experiences, ideas and issues
      (e.g. This is about…, It was the best day of my life because...)
   
    1. Asks about events, experiences, ideas and issues
      (e.g. What does it look like? Can you tell me more about...)
   
  1. Stalling for time and fillers
    1. Indicates that more time is needed to figure out what to say and how to say it
      (e.g. Just a minute. Wait a second. Let me think.)
E          
    1. Fills in pauses to maintain exchanges
      (e.g. I mean…, You know…, Well…)
       
  1. Rejoinders and connectors
    1. Invites other speakers to contribute to exchanges and to maintain interaction
      (e.g. What about you? Are you sure? What’s your point of view?)
E        
  1. Warnings
    1. Gives warnings
      (e.g. Watch out! Be careful! You’d better not…)
E          
  1. Agreement/disagreement
    1. Expresses agreement/disagreement
      (e.g. Me too. I don’t think so. We don’t agree with...)
E          
    1. Asks if others are in agreement/disagreement
      (e.g. Do you agree? Who disagrees? Are you okay with…?)
E        
  1. Opinions
    1. States opinions
      (e.g. In my opinion…, I think that…, I’m for/against…)
E      
    1. Asks for others’ opinions
      (e.g. What do you think? What’s your opinion? Is he for or against…?)
E      
    1. Supports opinions
      (e.g. I believe this because..., For example…, Based on the text…)
   
    1. Asks others to support their opinions
      (e.g. Why do you say that? Why are you against…? What are your arguments?)
   
  1. Capabilities
    1. Expresses capabilities
      (e.g. He’s good at…, They are unable to…, I can/can’t…)
E        
    1. Asks about capabilities
      (e.g. Do they know how to…? Can it…? Are you good at…?)
E      
  1. Feelings
    1. Expresses feelings
      (e.g. I’m thrilled. She feels…, They're happy.)
E        
    1. Asks about others’ feelings
      (e.g. How do you feel about…? Are you okay? Why is she sad?)
E      
  1. Interests, tastes and preferences
    1. Expresses interests, tastes and preferences
      (e.g. They like…, I can’t stand…, She prefers…)
E        
    1. Asks about others’ interests, tastes and preferences
      (e.g. Which would you prefer? What’s your favourite…? Why do you like. . .?)
E      
  1. Decision/indecision
    1. Expresses decision/indecision
      (e.g. I decided that…, We choose this one. I’m not sure about this.)
       
    1. Asks about others’ decision/indecision
      (e.g. What have you decided? Have you made up your mind? What’s your decision?)
       
  1. Permission
    1. Asks for permission
      (e.g. May/Can I…? Do you mind if…? Is it all right if…?)
E          
    1. Gives/refuses permission
      (e.g. Yes, go ahead. No you can’t. Sure, no problem.)
         
  1. Advice and feedback
    1. Gives advice and feedback
      (e.g. Why don’t you try…, If I were you, I would…, You could…)
     
    1. Asks for advice and feedback
      (e.g. What would you do? Could you give me your feedback on this? Would you have a look at …?)
     
  1. Instructions and classroom routines
    1. Participates in classroom life
      (e.g. Write this down. I would like to work with…, How was your weekend?)
E          
  1. Help/assistance
    1. Asks for help/assistance
      (e.g. How do you write…? How would you do this? Can you help me with…?)
E          
    1. Accepts or declines offers of help/assistance
      (e.g. No thanks. Sure, that’s fine. Yes, I’ll help you.)
E          
    1. Offers help/assistance
      (e.g. Do you want me to help you? I can help you with…, Let me give you a hand.)
E      
  1. Needs
    1. Expresses needs, wants and obligations
      (e.g. They need…, I really want…, We must…)
E        
    1. Asks about needs, wants and obligations
      (e.g. What do they need? What does she want? What do we have to do?)
E      
  1. Requests for information
    1. Asks information questions
      (e.g. Who/What/Where/When/Why/How...? Does he…? Can they…? Are you...?)
E    
  1. Clarification
    1. Asks for clarification
      (e.g. Could you repeat, please? Can you say that another way? What does… mean?)
E          
    1. Offers clarification
      (e.g. What I said was…, Let me explain..., I mean…)
       
  1. Suggestions
    1. Makes suggestions
      (e.g. Let’s…, Maybe you should…, Why don’t we…?)
E        
    1. Asks for suggestions
      (e.g. Should I…? What do you suggest? Do you have a suggestion?)
       
  1. Invitations
    1. Invites others
      (e.g. Let’s go to…, Would you like to…? Do you want to join us?)
E        
    1. Accepts or refuses invitations
      (e.g. Yes, I’d love to! I can’t make it. Sounds good to me.)
E        
  1. Teamwork and encouragement
    1. Contributes to teamwork and harmonious exchanges
      (e.g. Do you want to be on our team? Interesting idea! Good work!)
E        
  1. Discourse markers
    1. Uses discourse markers to link ideas
      (e.g. Then…, Next…, On the other hand…)
   
  1. Goal setting
    1. Sets short- and long-term learning goals
      (e.g. I will watch an English TV program tonight. By the end of the year, I will…, This year, I want to improve…)
     
  1. Reflecting
    1. Shares reflections about learning
      (e.g. I was able to understand this text because…, I used this strategy to…, I learned…)
     

 

B. Vocabulary

In the secondary-level Core ESL programs, vocabulary is acquired in context. Teachers target words that students need to participate in classroom life and to carry out meaningful learning and evaluation situations.

At the elementary level, students developed a repertoire of vocabulary related to their immediate environment and needed to carry out tasks. At the secondary level, students continue to learn and experiment with vocabulary when dealing with issues inspired by the broad areas of learning and developing the cross-curricular competencies. They also use vocabulary related to strategies, processes, language conventions and texts. In Secondary Cycle One, students continue to build vocabulary when carrying out tasks that deal with familiar themes (e.g. leisure activities) and topics of a broader scope (e.g. social responsibilities). In Secondary Cycle Two, students expand their vocabulary as they explore increasingly complex topics (e.g. freedom).

Vocabulary contributes to the development of the three ESL competencies: Interacts orally in English, Reinvests understanding of texts and Writes and produces texts.

Language Repertoire
Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.
Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.
 
Student reinvests knowledge.

E: The letter E shows links between the elementary- and secondary-level ESL programs.

Elementary

Secondary
Cycle
One
Cycle
Two
  1. Vocabulary
  1 2 3 4 5
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to the immediate environment such as classroom, home, community (e.g. stapler)
E          
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to students’ interests and needs such as leisure activities, relationships, jobs (e.g. sports equipment)
E      
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to issues inspired by the broad areas of learning:
      • Health and Well-Being (e.g. hygiene)
      • Personal and Career Planning (Cycle 1) / Career Planning and Entrepreneurship (Cycle 2) (e.g. occupations)
      • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities (e.g. pollution)
      • Media Literacy (e.g. copyrights)
      • Citizenship and Community Life (e.g. democracy)
E
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to the development of the cross-curricular competencies:
      • Uses information (e.g. source)  
      • Solves problems (e.g. solution)
      • Exercises critical judgment (e.g. viewpoints)
      • Uses creativity (e.g. trial and error)
      • Adopts effective work methods (e.g. process)
      • Uses information and communications technologies (e.g. networks)
      • Achieves his/her potential (e.g. autonomy)
      • Cooperates with others (e.g. teammates)
      • Communicates appropriately (e.g. audience)
E
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to communication and learning strategies
      (e.g. skim: quick read)
E  
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to the response, writing and production processes
      (e.g. response process: exploring, connecting, generalizing)
     
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to language conventions (i.e. intonation, pronunciation and grammar)
      (e.g. talk: silent letter 'l')
E    
    1. Uses targeted vocabulary related to texts (e.g. text components: subtitles)
E  

 

C. Language Conventions

In the secondary-level Core ESL programs, language conventions refer to intonation, pronunciation and grammar. Intonation is the rise and fall of voice pitch to convey meaning and the stress applied to specific syllables within individual words. Pronunciation is the production of phonemes (i.e. sounds) in English words. Grammar is divided into two categories: grammatical structures and mechanics. Grammatical structures include parts of speech (e.g. verbs, conjunctions, prepositions), sentence constructions (e.g. affirmative, negative, simple, complex), word forms (e.g. prefixes, suffixes, gerunds) and agreement (e.g. subject-verb, pronoun-antecedent). Mechanics refers to capitalization, punctuation and spelling.

Knowledge of language conventions helps develop students’ communicative competence by enabling them to better understand oral and written messages and to express their own messages more accurately. At the elementary level, students acquired some knowledge of English language conventions. Throughout the secondary level, they build on this knowledge when carrying out meaningful tasks with the support of resources (e.g. peers, grammar references, verb lists).

The secondary-level Core ESL programs are based on the communicative approach in which language conventions are addressed using focus on form instruction. Focus on form instruction draws students’ attention, in context, to the intonation, pronunciation and grammar of the English language through the following three dimensions: form (e.g. –ed ending for the simple past of regular verbs), meaning (e.g. a completed action at a specific time in the past) and use (e.g. Last year, I visited New York City.) In focus on form instruction, students benefit from reactive feedback, proactive teaching and noticing form. Reactive feedback is used to direct students’ attention to their errors and is provided through corrective feedback techniques (i.e. elicitation, clarification requests, metalinguistic feedback and repetition). Proactive teaching is when teachers anticipate students’ difficulties and plan the teaching of language conventions essential for carrying out tasks. Noticing form allows students to better understand how the use of form contributes to the meaning of a message.

Since language conventions are not necessarily acquired in a linear manner, there is no predetermined order in which they are presented. Some language conventions may require continued emphasis as they are difficult to acquire but are necessary for effective communication (e.g. possessive determiners his/her). Consequently, repeated exposure to language conventions in a variety of meaningful contexts is crucial to the development of students’ linguistic knowledge. When targeting language conventions and deciding how much attention to give them, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Complexity: Are students ready to learn the targeted language conventions, given students’ level of language development?
  2. Frequency: Will students have sufficient opportunities to encounter and use the targeted language conventions in the task at hand?
  3. Recurrence: Are the targeted language conventions useful for students’ communication needs?

Language conventions contribute to the development of the three ESL competencies: Interacts orally in English, Reinvests understanding of texts and Writes and produces texts.

Language Repertoire
Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.
Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.
 
Student reinvests knowledge.

E: The letter E shows links between the elementary- and secondary-level ESL programs.

Elementary

Secondary
Cycle
One
Cycle
Two
  1. Language Conventions
  1 2 3 4 5
  1. Intonation and pronunciation
    1. Uses rising and falling voice pitch to convey meaning
      (e.g. rising voice pitch to express surprise: It’s snowing?_)
E      
    1. Uses appropriate stress and pronunciation for words frequently used to participate in classroom life (e.g. Wednesday: \' wenz-day\)
E      
    1. Uses appropriate stress and pronunciation for targeted words to carry out tasks
      (e.g. Chocolate: \' chä-clate\)
 
  1. Grammar
    1. Uses knowledge of targeted mechanics to construct meaning of texts
E    
    1. Uses targeted mechanics to write and produce texts
E    
    1. Uses knowledge of targeted grammatical structures to construct meaning of oral and written messages
E
    1. Uses targeted grammatical structures to express oral and written messages
E

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