TESOL Standard 1.a Language as a System: Candidates demonstrate understanding of language as a system, including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse varieties, aspects of social and academic language, rhetorical registers, and writing conventions.

The artifacts I chose for this standard are a mini-lesson from ESC 725 as well as part of a lesson from my EdTPA. Standard 1.a hones in on the knowledge that a teacher brings in to the classroom, and details the connection between content and ELLs language acquisition. I chose to showcase the second segment because I feel it best illustrates how “language is a system, including syntax and morphology”. All of the vocabulary that I select for the week comes from reading(s) that my students will conquer. By reteaching the same vocabulary words every day allows my ELLs experience words in proper rhetorical registers, giving them access to a purposeful language.


For this particular lesson, students were in the midst of reading Dragonwings, a high-level book that was a challenge even for my native speakers, mainly because of the strangeness of the setting and the high level of academic vocabulary. I had taught the same book the previous year, and I was having difficulties pre-teaching the vocabulary, with the intent of having the words stick in students minds as they encountered them in the reading. According to Literacy in Context, “When teachers pre-teach vocabulary, they introduce unfamiliar terms to students before they begin to read the text, and students have a heightened awareness of the vocabulary that they will encounter while reading.” (Miller and Veatch, 2011, p.19) So, in an effort to make my teaching more learner-centered, I worked with my co-teacher on creating exercises that we would be day-specific and connected to 5-8 words that students will encounter not only in the text, but in academic settings in general.


In short, on Mondays, we teach the words. Students will copy down the word and definition in an organizer. By keeping the first day simple, with only teacher modeling, the students feel little-to-no pressure; they only have to write. I find that when my ELLs only have to listen and copy, they are able to increase their focus. Tuesday through Friday, students will increase their participation, from expressing examples and non-examples of the new vocabulary words to comparing them to each other to, finally, partaking in a summative assessment.


Along with the explicit teaching of the new vocabulary words, I also place the words on the wall. By having a visual of the words, students who may be absent for any particular lesson can access the information at their own pace. Beyond its pure pragmatic function, having an active “word wall” is evidence that my classroom is a place of learning and collaboration.


The journey of developing a method to pre-teach students of all levels academic vocabulary helped to cement a true partnership between my co-teacher and myself. I am so focused on content, content, content, that the nuts and bolts of the education process sometimes gets placed to the back burner. Moreover, because I am considered the lead teacher, my co-teacher might feel as if she is not an integral player in the classroom. Creating this exercise proves that we are true partners in the classroom and allows our strengths to shine.



This creation of this paper was one of the highlights of my graduate school career. While the parameters of this assignment were broad, I decided to focus on English language acquisition amongst East Asian ELLs primarily because of my time spent in Korea. The focus of this course was second language teaching and learning and deals with “the psychological principles of second-language learning with their application to teaching, as well as the similarities and differences between first- and second-language learning and teaching.” While many of the issues in this course tended to focus on Spanish-speaking ELLs, I felt it was pertinent to concentrate on an emerging group of ELLs (at least in New York City): the East Asian immigrant. Moreover, this artifact is evidence of my ability to understand and apply theories and research in language acquisition and development to support their ELLs’ English language and literacy learning and content-area achievement.


Having taught in Korea for four years, I had grown fond of the Korean people and when I returned to New York City, I had an arsenal of techniques to use to in my teaching practice. Because Korean is generally considered a “language isolate” and based on an alphabet of symbols, there are unique challenges to working with recent Korean immigrants in an American classroom. This paper provided me with an opportunity to provide both theory and practical application for both myself and other educators.


The first half of the paper discusses how culture directly connects to language acquisition, which links to the “understanding language of language as a system”. Due to a strong hierarchical system based on a centuries-old thinking, Korean students tend to enter school with a well-honed base of respect for both the education process and teachers. While this may be seen as a boon for educators who can deal with a lot of misbehavior and apathy, there is a flip-side to overly focused students. Koreans want to become proficient in English at a very quick pace, and become quite frustrated if they are not immediately successful. An understanding teacher of ELLs must be aware of the challenges that East Asian students face, including battling and sometimes to the model minority myth.

After writing this paper, I began to reevaluate my career; specifically, I wanted to teach students that I had a strong connection with linguistically. Due to strenuous study, I have reached an advanced level of Korean ability, and I feel that would be of best use working with Asian ELLs. I am currently working with a primarily Spanish population, and while they have taught me more about the nuts and bolts of my profession than any graduate school course, I feel my experience in Asia is not being put to good use. However, I still believe that I fully understand the role of personal and affective variables in language learning and establish secure, motivating classrooms in which ELLs are encouraged to take risks and use language productively, extending their conceptual knowledge as well as their language and literacy skills.

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