Introduction by Tyler Wood


Each student carries with them a spark in their eye of curiosity to the class. In order to get a good grasp of our students, we, as educators, must consider what each student brings to the classroom and be able to reflect that level of expectation. This is especially pertinent when considering the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. Each educator should consider the following things for pre-assessing.

 - Sociocultural/acculturation biography

 - First language biography

 - Second language biography

 - Schooling/academic knowledge biography

"After pre-assessing the biographies of [our] CLD students, effective teachers reflect on the ways in which [we] can modify [our] instruction to better accommodate the needs and assets these students bring to the classroom" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 90). We must not forget that just because a student is not fluent in a second language, doesn't mean they don't understand the content in the class as well. Pre-assessing will give us a better handle of what we can teach and how to differentiate the class in order to best teach all the students in the class. 

A non-invasive, non-threatening way to pre-assess for prior knowledge and get a sense of their "sociocultural realities (Herrera & Murry, 2011)" is to begin the class with a personal report, or 'Me Report,' that can be used as an introduction to the class and each other. The teacher can give a few questions that would be relevant for introductions that would also be a good way to assess their home situation and their stage in their acculturation journey, according to Cushner, McClelland, and Stafford's U-Curve Hypothesis (Herrera & Murry, 2011). For example, they could draw a picture of their hometown and use one detail that was unique to the town. Or, they could talk about what the family eats for dinner every night and what their favorite meal is. These would be seemingly simple activities that would give clues to the CLD students background in an unobtrusive manner. 

One thing I think would work great are home visits (Herrera & Murry, 2011). This method doesn't work in my situation since I teach in Korea and this is not a noticeably acceptable practice, but I can have "teacher-student conversations (Herrera & Murry, 2011)," which I utilize frequently. 

All of these strategies would work for any student because even students that are not CLD students would benefit from a teacher that engages fully into the lives and backgrounds of the students to better teach each student. CLD students have unique challenges, but these methods would still work to differentiate learning among students with the same sociocultural background, but with different learning styles or personalities. Click the button below for another example of a classroom's pre-assessing methods.

For an example of a pre-assessment and differentiation strategy I planned click the button below. 


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.


Pendergrass, E. (Jan. 2014). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-assessment. Educational Leadership, 71, No. 4. Retrieved from

Scaffolding Approaches by Tyler Wood

Scaffolding is an approach akin to guided practice with extra contextual support of the material. "Instructional scaffolding enables CLD students, with support, to engage in literacy activities that build on a prior skill or knowledge base while stretching toward the development of new literacy skills" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 74) while still keeping the CLD student in the class with the other students. The CLD students need to feel safe and be able to engage with native speakers in authentic communication, so scaffolding can allow that to happen.

Another way to help with scaffolding is to utilize their first language (L1) and not just teach in their second language (L2). "Research has constistantly demonstrated that when the CLD student is schooled only in L2, meeting this linguistic challenge of attaining grade-level norms will require a minimum of five to ten years and will require even more time when the student does not already have an established literacy base in L1, says Collier, Thomas, Cummins, Swain, Dolson & Mayer, Genesee, and Ramirez (as cited in Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 71)"

Understanding the struggle of acquiring a new language, I see the issue in patience. Educators must remember that the CLD students aren't cognitively slow becaue they can't speak the target language yet, they are just transitioning to a new language, so taking that into consideration, educators should balance their language with the classes content. This is why differentiation in the classroom is critical. If a student is "behind" in a certain aspect of the learning, offering choices that fit their language level, while still letting them keep up with the class on content will keep them engaged and challenged without falling behind and be motivated to continue the struggle of learning the new language.

For example, educators can make extra materials that cover the content but take into consideration the language acquisition of the CLD student. Perhaps, since it is a common L1, have the worksheets bilingual or, at least enough for the CLD students with an L1 to consider, printed so they can be helped while still utilizing their L1 for cognitive development of the content. This will also "build a connection between new knowledge and existing knowledge (Herrera & Murry, 2011)." 

Even letting the CLD students teach a few words to a native English speaking partner and have them share vocabulary to engage the CLD student would offer an authentic experience for both students on getting to know someone with different cultural backgrounds with common goals or interests, namely, this classes content.

Click below to see my lesson plan covering differentiated instructional approaches and pre-assessments. 

Tyler's Lesson Plan



Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Robinson, C., & Clardy, P. (2011). It Ain't What You Say, It's How You Say It: Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom. Journal Of Cultural Diversity18(3), 101-110.

CLD Instructional Approaches by Tyler Wood

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students are students that come from different backgrounds, first languages, cultures, and countries from the place they are currently attending school. They bring a diversity that can, and should, be appreciated by a classroom focusing on education. However, that tends to not be the case. CLD students are often put in separate classes or left behind to struggle with their unique learning experience and troubles. Click the button below for a more in depth understanding of the CLD situation happening in America and what can be done about it.

How do I deal with CLD students? What program do I use at my school?

This is pretty easy for me because our program is plastered on the side of the school. I live and teach in Seoul, Korea, so all of my students are ESL students. I am one of the CLD teachers, however. 

Our school is an English immersion technique school. All of the students take English lessons everyday and are taught more than one subject in English. I teach Reading (Social Studies/Language), Science, Speech/Debate, Grammar, and Project class (once a week the kids work on a project that will last a month each, give or take). The students are also instructed in Korean and they take Chinese classes. Before I started at this school, and before the government has changed the laws regarding how much English instruction is allowed in elementary schools, my school was teaching most classes in English. Since the regulation changes we are now only teaching two 40-minute classes a day in English for the kids and an hour of after school classes, if the children sign up for it. So the immersion technique is really a misnomer these days. 

All of our English curriculum is American school curriculum, as advertised and wanted by the parents. Our books are all American textbooks with the cultural references that have come with them for quite sometime. There are many culturally diverse characters in the stories we read and diverse cultural icons taught. For example, there is a story about a Chinese-American girl and her Chinese mom planting vegetables to make Chinese soup. There is a story about a young African-American boy learning about his hero Jackie Robinson and how that effected his life as an African-American boy in America. This is great exposure for the culturally homogeneous Korean children. They are learning more about different groups of people that they would not otherwise be running into or learning about outside this curriculum. However, at times I find that many of the references are lost on them as they have trouble making sense of it or finding any relevance to their lives. For example, there are Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text for the American students, but our kids are already learning English (L2) and Chinese (L3) and it only seems to confuse them to add a fourth language to the mix. Spanish is not a common language in Korea, so that seems like a hard sell here, though I understand, and support, its use in American schools. 

The strengths are that the kids are exposed to English on a regular basis and are always hearing a native speaker speak the language. From what I have seen with my previous immersion kindergarten experience (where there is no Korean lessons at all) to this school where there is mostly Korean lessons, is the English suffers after they enter elementary school and no longer use it all day. I have seen many of my kids from kindergarten that have very good English skills, especially speaking, come back after going into a mostly Korean elementary school and fall back into the bad pronunciation habits we were teaching them to drop the year before. I don't have access to their grades to see their cognitive growth, but they seem to be fine there, not struggling. So having English classes everyday keeps their growth in the language going and helps prevent the loss of the language due to lack of use.

The weaknesses are hard to say really. On one hand, if we consider the focus to be English, we aren't teaching them classes in English enough for the growth we'd like to see. However, we are not really the focus of the schools curriculum anymore. We also aren't the dominant culture trying to adhere to diversity, we are the diversity at the school. We are the minority trying to teach our language and culture to them. In that way, it is successful, but it seems a bit disjointed and hard for the kids to understand what is really going on. What is their focus? They have trouble with that, I think, because our curriculum is split between the two languages. It also makes it hard to try and include their L1, when they are using their L1 all day long. We are the only opportunity for them to use their L2, so we don't want to use our time, too much anyway, teaching any Korean, since we want to get in as much English as possible. A weakness related to that is that there is no communication or collaboration between the two programs. The Korean teachers don't talk to the English department. There are probably several reasons, the first being that their office is in another part of the school, but also they are not fluent in English or they are too shy to speak in English to us and most of us don't speak conversational Korean well enough. It's a language barrier. If we could manage to collaborate and make the curriculum blur that line and make those connections between languages, the students might excel even more because the three predictors of academic success for CLD students (or ESL students) are: 

  - "Cognitively complex academic instruction primarily delivered through the student's first language and maintained for as long as possible, but secondarily delivered through the second language for a portion of the school day

 - The intentional use of current approaches in the teaching of the academic curriculum through both L1 and L2, including active, discovery, and cognitively complex learning

 - Purposeful changes in the sociocultural context of schooling, such as the integration of CLD students with English speakers in a context that is supporting and affirming for all; the development of an additive bilingual context, in which bilingual education is perceived and respected as a gifted and talented program for all students; and the transformation of majority and minority relations in the school to a positive, safe environment for all students" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 107). 


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Instructional Methods/Approaches for Any Student by Tyler Wood


There are three dominant approaches to second language instruction - The grammatical approach, the Communicative approach, and the Cognitive approach. The grammatical approach falls under the "deductive category of language. The communicative and cognitive approaches, on the other hand, correspond to the meaning-based inductive language instruction category" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 193). For a quick historical overview, and more in depth introduction, of the different methods of instruction click the button below.

Grammatical Approach in my class:

Though it seems to have lost favor in practice, this approach does have a few strategies and techniques that can work at my grade level. According to Kelly, "the instructor would present a series of questions and then subsequently answer the questions through instruction...[and] would pose questions to the students, and the students would respond with memorized answers to demonstrate their mastery of language rules (as cited in Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 197)." Though I don't believe rote memorization teaches language skills very effectively, I have had experience with it teaching pronunciation and communication confidence in L2. My last school would always put on a play, or presentation, for the parents that would be memorized, including the answers to the questions I posed. I don't agree that it was teaching them the rules of the language very effectively, I do, however, think it was useful in getting them more comfortable speaking the language with confidence and it made their fluidity and pronunciation better in the language. I admit that this is not a very strong reasoning for implementing this as a strategy in class, however. 

Communicative Approach in my class:

At my current school, we implement a form of the Intergrated Content-Based (ICB) method. Our second language (English) teaching method "emphasizes content and language objectives across subject areas (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 207)." Some of the strategies mentioned are what we have been using effectively. One such strategy is to "use visuals to support meaning (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 206)," such as using pictures to elicit ideas about the content and role-playing for creating an authentic communication experience for the students. Another example of the communicative approach is The Sheltered Instruction Method where the lessons "integrate language and content objectives into the same lesson" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 207). These, among many others, have been effective in getting the students to use and internalize the language. 

Cognitive Approach in my class:

One idea that I have been implementing in my new school is to "account for...individual differences in learning styles by structuring alternative grouping arrangements, offering variation in the type and use of instructional materials, and modifying time frames for learning and response (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 219)." I have given my students a learning style quiz to get an idea of how I might alter my teaching to adapt to their needs and I have been using small groupings (partner work) more to try and give the students more chances to have meaningful and relevant conversations with their peers, which brings the affective filter down so they can feel comfortable speaking and learning. 

Below is my lesson plan utilizing the cognitive approach in my class.

Tyler's Cognitive Approach Lesson Plan


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Learning Environment Impact by Tyler Wood

Does the room you're in matter when you're teaching? "Most of us would like to believe that the environment that seems external to our practice is generally inconsequential. After all, we are typically taught to focus on internal factors such as curriculum, instructional planning and delivery, monitoring, and evaluation. Yet research and analysis in education has repeatedly highlighted the powerful impact that external environment can have on professional practice for an educator" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 154-155). Below is a link to a more in depth look at the research and ideas behind this. Click the button to learn more.

There are many other factors to consider when discussing the learning environment besides the physical space. Other factors include the internal environment, which "refers to the atmosphere of the school and classroom" Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 156). 

I currently teach in Korea, so my experience has been with Korean kindergarten and elementary students (exclusively Korean). My students are usually used to a foreign teacher, but we are still foreign teachers and thought of as a novelty at first. They can be shy because I'm a foreigner and they are uncomfortable with me or there can be other social pressures to deal with. 

Students that don't feel comfortable or 'safe' in a classroom will "seek out faculty members ... with whom they feel they might find a safe haven (Robinson & Clardy, 2011). This is the first, and most important, step in really understanding the students, being the safe haven. One way of creating that safe haven is opening up about our experiences and trying to build a foundation on some common ground. Being the first to open up will allow the students to participate in adding their experience without as much fear of being judged. This opening up, in my experience, tends to lead to a better understanding of the background and learning style of the student and a more openness of the student to be motivated to try new things. They have shared and are more connected to the group and the class. The method that works for me is outside the curriculum. Just trying to invest time into talking to the students and getting to know them on a personal level without being on the stage of talking in front of the class. I usually take time during break or while students are doing certain bookwork or worksheet work to walk around and talk to them a little. It is a non-threatening, non-judgemental way to let them know you care and their views are important. This method can help build a safe learning environment that all students can be comfortable in and ready to learn and participate. 

For more in depth reading on the international ideas of learning environments click the button below. 


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Additional Instructional Methods/Approaches for CLD Students by Tyler Wood

Previously, I wrote about three major instructional approaches for CLD students. An additional method I will discuss here, is a method I use frequently in my class. It is under the umbrella of the cognitive approach and is the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (or CALLA method). "The CALLA method ... is designed to enrich the language that CLD students can use for academic communication. At the same time, CALLA is designed to further the abilities of CLD students to comprehend the discourse of the various content areas and to enhance their capacities to be academically successful in those subject areas" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 219). Click below for more information on the CALLA method.

In my class, I tend to use the CALLA method because I find that when the students learn the metacognitive strategies of learning (thinking about how they learn) the can use those strategies to learn outside the four walls of the classroom. They begin to learn how they learn and apply that knowledge to situations that I, the educator, haven't set up as a learning experience. That, in my opinion, is the true essence of teaching. When the students no longer need a teacher for them to learn effectively. Below is a lesson plan I made using the CALLA method.

Tyler's CALLA Method Lesson Plan


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Key Facets of a Platform for Best Practices with CLD Students by Tyler Wood

Upon self-assessing, I would say there are a few things I could do to improve my classroom. There are four key facets: 1) Language development and learning dynamics; 2) Sociopolitical and sociocultural realities; 3) Planning, implementations, and managing instruction; and 4) Professionalism, reflection, and evaluation of practice.  

Facet 1: "effective teachers of CLD students are adept at using various instructional materials and groupings of students to promote first and second language acquisition as well as content-related conceptual development" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 369). Even though I don't have any native English speakers to group my ESL students with, I would like to build more opportunities for them to work in groups, especially groups I choose to get the most out of each student in "environments that foster the construction of meaning from context and from communication" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 101). This will bring down the effective filter and allow a good warm up with the lesson or ending quick review, especially since I already use many visuals they can use. 

Facet 2: Since my class is culturally homogenous, my students are only getting my perspective on my culture and I could be more open about cultural exchange. Perhaps I've been in Korea too long and I'm forgetting that we have much to learn from each other, but I think I could definitely offer a more "caring connection between students and teachers" because it "is crucial to both content and language learning" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 373). I used to exchange more between cultures, but I have since become more immune to noticing differences, so I should bring back my attempt at engaging them with their cultural viewpoint more often.

Facet 3: I have been steadily working on being better at getting ahead of my planning. I still haven't been consistent with backward mapping, but I have had success in the past with this method. We don't teach to the standards of the Common Core in Korea, per se, but we attempt to match the American curriculum, so by default, we end up adhering to the standards. Since we don't outline our standards, we tend not to start at the end and work backward, but it would be quite helpful to simply adopt the standards and work back from them anyway. It would really benefit our planning by better outlining our learning goals (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 376).

Facet 4: I have the largest failings in this facet. I have been reading on the topic of CLD students only because of my studying, and plan to continue indefinitely. Since I'm in Korea, I haven't even considered "shaping local, state, or national guidelines, curriculum, or policy regarding CLD students "(Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 381). I have been attempting to implement what I'm learning as best as I can, but it has put up so many nets I'm getting caught in for now, so I'm still untangling the string to find out what works and what doesn't while still being able to teach and keep up with my coworkers who are on the same lesson plan. It has generally benefitted me in the class and in the office, so I look forward to continuing this search for best practices, however.

Final Thoughts by Tyler Wood

When you begin teaching it becomes blatantly clear, if you already didn't guess this, that each student in your class has their own unique personalities, quirks, and charm. This is one of the many reasons educators continue to be motivated to teach amid the generally long, tiring hours and relatively low pay. Each student is a window into a new life that is emerging in the world. 

When I began teaching in Korea, I was worried that these Korean kids would be hard to understand, or that our cultures might clash and many other unfounded concerns of a new teacher trying to grasp at the source of the nerves I was feeling. Would I be able to remember their names? Would I make a cultural mistake and upset the children or parents? Would I be talking to a wall all day because they don't understand me? Etc...

What I found was that these students were kids, just like kids anywhere. They laughed at funny faces, they cried when they fell down, they were curious about the world. When we talk about CLD students getting what they need from school, I believe, we could be talking about any child. A student that is learning a second language is a student learning, just like any other student. There are different approaches to teaching, but when we get down to it, we are teaching to children. Whether they are from a different culture, language, or just a different wavelength, each child needs to be paid attention to and given some effort to best meet their needs for learning. This is where differentiation comes in.

What I have learned in this class is akin to digging deeper into the hole I've been sitting in. Since day one, I have been attempting to meet my students half way. "How will they learn this information or idea?" is a question I have had constantly clanging around in my skull everyday, I just hadn't labeled it yet. Differentiation is the ability to appreciate the differences of each child and adjust the class accordingly to meet the needs of all the students in your class.

I have been trying before, but studying the different methods in this course has given me more of a Rosetta Stone for these methods than I had before. I am able to think about my methods more clearly and understand why they work and how they can be implemented in more depth. For example, I have been trying to teach my kids to think about their learning, but now that I have learned more about the Cognitive Method I can streamline and redesign my lessons to better suit the nature of my class and the kids by better understanding the basis of how the kids learn metacognition. This is still a growing process for me, but I can already see the seedlings beginning to reach for the sky in my lessons. As I internalize these ideas more and utilize them more and more I will become a stronger, more effective teacher. And, I hope, my students will benefit even more.

As I continue to adjust and find my way through the forest, I realize that that initial spark I saw in the eyes of the curious students on my first day is still twinkling in my eyes and leading me forever onward, always being cautious not to extinguish that spark of curiosity in my eye or the eyes of my students.