Education is a basic human right and it is supposed to meet the needs of the society, especially the need for self-dependency, literacy and development. However to achieve the goals of education process, teachers and instructors are required to invest a lot of time, effort and skills in the instruction process so as to make the process a smooth one which is able to meet the needs of the learners.
This paper looks into the English language learning research based strategies such as pre-instruction activities, and visual aids, with an aim of analyzing the implications of teaching an integrated class whereby learners have different competencies but are supposed to be taught in the same way. In an English language-learning environment, an integrated class is constituted of students with different levels of English proficiency something that can potentially affect academic performances given the fact that, unless well controlled for, language barriers can cause communication barrier and therefore affect the learning process.
For those students with a high proficiency or an average proficiency in English, learning is likely to be easier compared to those students who have below-average or poor English language proficiency. The English language barrier is more pronounced in an integrated class whereby the teacher is likely to progress at the pace of those students with above average proficiency something which has been termed by affirmative groups as discriminatory. To achieve fairness in the integrated English language classes, several strategies are used all of them aimed at making sure that no single student faces language barrier in the learning process.
In addition, the integration is aimed at ensuring that non-native English speakers get an opportunity to improve their English speaking skills speedily. Such an environment also helps learners to mutually benefit from working in peer groups and collaborative groups. Emergent language learners have just the Basic English language skills and can face numerous communication barriers hence the relevance of integrated classes especially for non-native English speaking students.
Emergent language learners also are incapable of fully engaging in basic interpersonal communication with peers and therefore need a lot of help from colleagues and teachers alike in order to acquire the basic interpersonal communication skills, something that is only possible if integrated classes are managed well. Safe learning environment has been noted as one of the best ways in which teachers can help non-native English learners to achieve learning goals (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003 ).
A safe learning environment can be described as a learning environment in which all forms of barriers to communication between teachers and students as well as students to students are absent (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003). A safe environment also entails a learning process whereby, psychologically learners especially the emergent language learners as well as the limited proficient learners are motivated to overcome the learning challenges and barriers occasioned by the English language.
A safe environment brings into the same level both non-native English learners and native English learners by putting into place all the necessary measures aimed at providing an enabling learning environment. According to (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003), pre-instruction activities are important in English language learning in that they help students to mentally become ready for the next class.
In addition, pre-instruction activities helps English language learners in that once the student has an idea of what the next class is all about, they can afford to search in the library, on the internet and even from peers to have a rough idea of what the class will be all about. Such a step helps the non-native English language learner to easily grasp the subject matter during the instruction process (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003). (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003) notes that, a pre-instruction activity such as observing graphic organizers increases the speed of mastering content during actual classroom teaching.
KWL charts have also been praised for being effective strategies of increasing chances of content mastery for non-native English students given the fact that KWL chats relies more on cognitive skills than language skills but are just as effective in communicating (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003). Pre-instruction activities are strategies which not only help English language learning but also other learning approaches whereby the classroom is comprised of native English speakers.
Therefore in the class with 30 students with half native English speakers, one-fourth emergent learners and one fourth with some level of proficiency the pre-instruction activities are a must-include in the learning process. Visual aids are an integral part in the teaching process. According to (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003) visual aids are effective in that they direct students’ attention so as to make the students grasp all the major points in the learning process. This ensures that all learners regardless of their English proficiency are capable of content mastery and benefit in the same way from the teaching process.
To make the visual aids effective, visual aids such as photographs, writing boards, real objects, model objects, as well as posters are necessary (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003 ). According to (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003) human beings can only retain 20% of what they hear but interestingly, they retain 50% of what they see. This makes visual aids a powerful strategy in teaching of an integrated class given the fact that students can benefit equally inspite of their English proficiency. For example in teaching elementary education, teachers can use photographs of places and objects to teach names or nouns.
Therefore in elementary level, if a learner sees a photograph of a mountain or a sea, such a learner is likely to understand in a better way regardless of their English proficiency (Price, Kay , Nelson, & Karna 2003). Additionally, the use of visual aids such as a map is likely to benefit students regardless of their level of English proficiency. Peer coaching has been found to be an effective source of English language learning despite the fact that it is student-centered and hard to initiate or administer strategy (Little, Quintas, & Ray, 2001).
It has been found, that peer coaching provides an enabling atmosphere for learning, as the relationship between peers is more likely to be ease and more relaxed (Goad, 1982). Therefore, students can ask their peers questions that they are not likely to ask teachers. In an integrated class like the one cited above whereby half of the students are non-native English speakers with varied English language skills, peer coaching can play an important role as learners view it less sensitive to make mistakes with fellow students than with teachers.
Co-operative groups just like peer coaching have been noted as an effective way of learning in an integrated class although quality becomes a great concern, as learners are not qualified to teach other learners. However, it is effective in as far as breaking the language barrier is concerned. Repeat and re-phrase is an effective strategy that depends on drills and constant practice. The strategy is based on the fact that, most people are able to grasp something only after such content has been presented severally (Mabey, & Iles, 1994).
It is also considered as a way of avoiding repetition of common learning mistakes. Finally, music and jazz have been found to be an effective method of English language learning, especially for non-native English speakers. This is mainly due to the fact that music is sweet to the ears and produces a stimuli which relaxes the mind, eliminates tension and anxiety and therefore creates an enabling environment for learning; an environment whereby learner’s interests do not only, stem from the subject but the power of jazz and music (McHugh, Catherine, & Kevin 1997).
Conclusion Teaching an integrated class calls for the teacher to utilize research-based strategies which have been tested and found to be effective in teaching. This is in line with No Child Left Behind act that aims at making sure that every single child learns inspite of the prevailing challenges. Therefore there is a need for teachers to be familiar with the pre-instruction activities, visual aids strategies, co-operative groups, peer coaching, repeat and re-phrase as well as music and jazz chart activities which dramatically aid in the teaching of an integrated class.