June 15, 2012
Say Can You Say? Books Apps and ELL Students
Step inside Julie Kusiak's first-grade class at Ocean Knoll
Elementary in Encinitas, Calif., and you'll find her students
using iPads in small group rotations. For her English language
learner (ELL) students in particular, it's an enriching time
where they get to read books on an iPad. The apps provide
tools for them to master words and sentences on their own.
favorite feature in book apps is the Read to Me option,"
says Kusiak. "Additionally, kids not quite able to read
at their grade level can access the book, tap on a word and
have it pronounced and tap on an object and see and hear the
word. This is great for second language learners and helps build
their vocabulary and reading fluency."
at Ocean Knoll have been using Oceanhouse Media book apps among
others, enjoying such titles from Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain
Bears, Mercer Mayer and the Smithsonian as part of a pilot program
between the app developer and the Encinitas Unified School District.
English is the second language for many of the students at the
to Liz Griffiths, an educational consultant for Oceanhouse Media,
ELL students often do not have English modeled for them at home.
This means they are not getting valuable reinforcement at story
time every night. Apps can step in and provide children with
an accurate and consistent supplement to their language studies.
powerful tool that apps offer is the proper pronunciation of
the words," says Griffiths. "Kids can touch individual
words that they want to hear pronounced. There's that direct
tie between the text and the spoken language.
will often read a paragraph, then listen to it to check their
work. It's great for fluency and expression, things they might
not get at home if a parent doesn't speak English."
Hickey, principal at Our Lady's School in San Diego, Calif.,
also believes book apps can be used as an effective tool to
promote literacy with ELL students, helping them overcome reading
challenges in ways that print books cannot.
digital apps have features such as animation and graphics which
motivate readers and provide an engaging experience," says
Hickey. "Students can work on their own or with a partner
and have the story read to them. This allows the students greater
opportunity to hear English when the instructor is not working
directly with them. The apps also allow the students to work
at their level in order to become more comfortable with the
language. This aspect of language acquisition is key to language
agrees. She has worked with ELL students and adds it's important
for them to be able to read on their own with good comprehension
and minimal frustration.
was reading the book There's No Place Like Space! on an iPad
and with an ELL student who was reading fairly well. He got
to a word that he didn't know, which was "planet."
He would tap it, hear the word pronounced and continue reading,
so it didn't provide a stumbling block that took him out of
the narrative. He was able to stay engaged with the story, hear
the pronunciation and the cool part was that by the end of the
book he was reading that word on his own. In 20 minutes I watched
him learn that word and use it."