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Award-winning brain research expert David A. Sousa explains current research on how the brain learns language and provides strategies for teaching English language learners.

Teaching Language Arts and Social Studies
Teaching language arts and social studies

ELLs tend to acquire social (or conversational) English much more readily than the academic English needed to succeed in content-area classrooms. Generally, ELLs take about two to three years to be on grade level in social English. They are motivated to learn this type of English so they can be accepted and socialize with their peers. Furthermore, social English is easier to learn because it is usually accompanied by inflection, facial expressions, intonation, and gestures that help the ELLs comprehend the conversation. Academic English refers to the more challenging, abstract, and complex language that allows ELLs to participate successfully in mainstream classroom instruction. Academic English is sometimes described as the “content” language, that is, ...

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