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31 Mar 2000

English Language Development in the Nearstar ESL/PBR Model: Stages I-IV

Martha Adler, Elfrieda H. Hiebert & Charles W. Fisher, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Reading provides the very foundation of lifelong learning and without it academic achievement becomes a daunting task. For the English-as-a-second-language (ESL) student, the ability to successfully attain reading achievement is particularly challenging. As the focus of the NEARStar ESL/PBR Model is on aural language and reading comprehension, the Model provides a research-based supplementary reading program for ESL students that not only provides a strong foundation in beginning reading, but also in beginning English language development.

The ESL/PBR Model presents a balanced approach toward reading through word recognition (graphophonemics) and comprehension (semantics and syntax). Lessons are structured around high meaning conceptual clusters with activities that rely on a focused approach toward the recognition of a corpus of high-meaning words in predictable sentences, high-frequency words, word parts, and phonetically regular words. Since the focus and development of graphophonemics and semantics are taken up in The ESL/PRB Model: A Foundation for NEARStar (LITT Report 1.1), they are not repeated here.

However, since English language syntax is complex and can be particularly challenging for beginning ESL students, a separate discussion of syntax is warranted. Further, there are also critical contrasts between the phoneme systems of language that require consideration in an instructional program such as NEARStar. This document identifies critical elements of English syntax and of the English phonology system that merit attention in the development of English oracy and literacy for children with native languages other than English.