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.

Posted in