The TExES Bilingual Education Supplemental Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual has the skills and knowledge necessary to be a teacher in a bilingual education program at the middle school level. This exam does not actually assess the individual’s knowledge of a particular language, but rather the individual’s understanding of the methods and concerns associated with bilingual education. This exam is required, in addition to the Generalist Exam 4 – 8 or a specific subject exam, in order to become a certified middle school teacher in a bilingual education program in the Texas public school system. The exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions that are related to bilingual education.
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The registration fee for the Bilingual Education Supplemental Exam is $131 and the exam is administered in a computer-based format. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become a certified middle school educator in a bilingual education program within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Describe some strategies to create an effective bilingual learning environment.
Studies show the most successful methods to create an effective bilingual learning environment incorporate several approaches. Teachers who have English Language Learners in their mainstream classroom, no matter what the subject area, can do many things to help them learn and improve their pronunciation and comprehension. Some easily implemented strategies include:
- Enunciate clearly; speak in a normal volume at a normal pace.
- Use short sentences; avoid idioms and slang.
- Use appropriate gestures.
- Point to pictures and objects for clarification.
- Print information (cursive can be difficult to read).
- Explain objectives and answer questions before beginning activities.
- Repeat, review, rephrase and summarize frequently.
- Praise when earned, unless the student’s cultural heritage considers individual attention inappropriate, in which case a private word is better.
- NATIVE LANGUAGE SUPPORT should be available. When the student is in an English-only classroom, he should have access to someone who speaks his native language. It provides him with the opportunity to have instructions clarified, and encourages active participation in classroom activities.
2. Discuss English Language Learners instructional methods using the native language of the student.
There are five main English Language Learner (ELL) programs that use the student’s native language while he is learning English:
- TRANSITIONAL BILINGUAL uses the native language in core academic subjects. However, the goal is to phase into English-only instruction as quickly as possible.
- DEVELOPMENTAL BILINGUAL uses the native language in core academic subjects throughout elementary school. Sometimes the program extends into middle and high school even after the student has been classified proficient in English.
- In TWO-WAY IMMERSION the students are from similar backgrounds, with about half the class speaking the native language and the other half speaking both. Instruction is about evenly split between English and the native language.
- In some cases, the native language is used in a SUPPORT ROLE ONLY. Instruction is entirely in English with a bilingual paraprofessional available to translate vocabulary, explain lessons and clarify confusing assignments.
- NEWCOMER programs are usually reserved for recent U.S. arrivals. Instruction is in the native language and students are also helped to acclimate to their new environment.
3. Describe methods used to teach English as a Second Language.
Basic interpersonal communication skills encompass two different and distinct styles of communication. Context-embedded communication uses visual and vocal props to help the student understand what is being said. Pictures and other objects graphically explain and demonstrate. The speaker’s gestures and tone of voice also help. Context-reduced communication doesn’t have visual cues, so the student must rely on competency and fluency to understand. Phone conversations don’t allow the listener to see the speaker, so visual aides are missing. Reading a note without pictorial guides may make it difficult for the student to understand the written words. The three methods most commonly used to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) are grammar-based, communication-based and content-based. Grammar-based teaches students the rules: structure, function and vocabulary. Emphasis is on the why and how. Communication-based teaches how to use English in everyday, realistic situations. It emphasizes practical conversational usage. Content-based teaches grammar and vocabulary, and uses written assignments to practice these skills. It emphasizes an integrated approach to learning English.
4. Discuss the continuum of learning theory as it applies to learning English as a second language.
The Continuum of Learning theory outlines predictable steps when learning a new language. No matter what the characteristics of the person or the subject matter being presented, teachers will encounter these general levels of mastery.
- The SILENT/RECEPTIVE OR PREPRODUCTION stage can last from a few hours to six months. Students usually don’t say much and communicate using pictures, pointing and gestures.
- In the EARLY PRODUCTION stage students use one and two word phrases. They indicate understanding with yes/no and who/what/where questions. This stage can last six months.
- The SPEECH EMERGENCE stage may last a year. Students use short sentences and begin to ask simple questions. Grammatical errors may make communication challenging.
- In the INTERMEDIATE LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY stage students begin to make complex statements, share thoughts and opinions and speak more often. This may last a year or more.
- The ADVANCED LEARNING PROFICIENCY stage lasts five to seven years. Students have acquired a substantial vocabulary and are capable of participating fully in classroom activities and discussions.
5. Discuss the key principles of language acquisition for English language learners.
There are four key concepts teachers in mainstream classrooms can use to help English Language Learners (EEL) acquire proficiency in both written and spoken English.
- INCREASE COMPREHENSIBILITY of the content of lesson plans and activities by using pictures, props, gestures and voice variations to explain and demonstrate the subject. Use short sentences and avoid slang and idioms.
- Build on the language concepts the student already has.
- ENCOURAGE INTERACTION by asking questions and assigning group activities (only with students willing and able to respond to the unique requirements). This provides the ELL student with lots of opportunities to practice what he knows and increase his confidence, so he is able to learn more effectively.
- INCREASE THINKING AND STUDY SKILLS by asking thought-provoking questions and assigning complex topics for research projects. Establish and expect the same high standards from every student.
- USE THE NATIVE LANGUAGE to increase understanding and comprehension. Translating questions and assignments into the student’s native language clarifies instructions and helps him understand what is expected.
6. Discuss strategies to help English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learners (ELL) students in a mainstream classroom.
English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learners (ELL) pose unique challenges in a mainstream classroom. Several activities will enable them to improve their conversational English, help them understand the subject matter more easily, and expand their vocabulary.
Pair an ESL/ELL with a native English speaker who explains an idiom, colloquialism or slang term in simple language.
Let ESL/ELL use a translation dictionary. It will ease the frustration of trying to determine the correct English word.
Use lots of visual cues: pictures, illustrations, charts, gestures, etc.
Emphasize key words with flashcards. Have students alternate between recognizing the word, the definition and the picture.
Have ESL/ELL read the newspaper and/or watch the TV news, then summarize the information in a few sentences and present the report to the class.
Assign an ESL/ELL student to a group project. The students learn to work together as a team, the ESL/ELL student gets to practice conversational skills, and English-speaking students interact with ELL students in a non-threatening setting.
7. Discuss some factors to consider when determining the reading skills of an English Language Learner.
One of the first things that needs to be determined before an ELL student’s reading skills can be accurately assessed is his cultural identity. His heritage and personal history have a huge impact on his readiness to learn. Some cultures place a great emphasis on learning for everyone, while others restrict access to educational opportunities by gender and/or economic status. Previous exposure to formal schooling plays an important role in the student’s ability to understand the academic environment and what is expected. Religious beliefs, health issues, psychological trauma and time spent as a refugee all impact the type and variety of reading material previously available. A corollary to cultural issues is the stress factor. There may be dramatic changes in family roles and responsibilities; children may be thrust into roles they are unaccustomed to and unfamiliar with. Exposure to values and behavior expected in the adopted country can be confusing and overwhelming. Survivors’ guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder may be present. All these factors affect a student’s ability to concentrate, learn a new language and adjust to different societal expectations.
8. Define fluency and describe ways to determine an English Language Learner’s level.
Fluency is the ability to read and comprehend the written word accurately and quickly. Fluent readers recognize words and expressions and understand their meaning. When reading out loud, their presentation is smooth, expressive and effortless. Fluent readers don’t focus on the words; they concentrate on the meaning. They make connections between knowledge they already have and ideas and concepts discovered in the new information. A student who is a good reader in his native language will be a good reader in English. However, when assessing an English language learner’s level of competency, just because he “sounds” good, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he understands the meaning in the message. It is important to ask open-ended questions about the text to determine his comprehension level. If the student doesn’t understand what he is reading, it doesn’t matter how fast he says the words: it is meaningless gibberish. A word of caution: be careful not to conclude that the student struggling with reading English has a learning disability; it may just be necessary to find other means to test his general knowledge.
9. Discuss the importance of grade placement for an English Language Learner.
It can be a challenge to determine the English Language Learner’s grade level. Birth dates on official documents may not be accurate, or papers may have been lost in refugee camps or during transit. Birthdays may not be important in their culture, and parents may have forgotten the year of birth. Families may have changed the age of the child believing it would help their situation. School attendance may have been primitive, erratic or non-existent. All these factors are real possibilities. However, placing the student in the correct grade is critical to his success in not only learning English but in assimilating into his new cultural and educational environment. Experts believe it is important to place the student with people as close to his chronological age as possible, because it helps motivate the ELL, encourages social interaction with peers, and hastens acclimation into his new world. Studies have shown that placing an ELL with people much younger inhibits his linguistic and academic development and can lead to alienation, disruptive behavior, and other socialization issues.
10. Define these teaching methods: content-based language instruction, sheltered instruction, and language across the curriculum.
- CONTENT-BASED LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION combines information, hands-on tasks, and instructional techniques, and uses these tools to develop language skills and learn subject matter. The teacher uses English and the native language to explain and evaluate the student’s verbal, written and group efforts.
- SHELTERED INSTRUCTION is used in immersion and bilingual programs, and is adopted to help students with limited or non-existent English proficiency. They are taught content in their native language and then moved to instruction in English (grammar, vocabulary, etc.), with the goal being to mainstream them as quickly as possible. Depending upon the size of the school and the number of students who speak the same language, this program may be separate or integrated into grade level classrooms.
- LANGUAGE ACROSS THE CURRICULUM is content-based teaching that deliberately coordinates English language instruction (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.) in all classes, no matter what the subject matter. Sometimes this program uses an integrated curriculum approach, sometimes it uses a team teaching approach, and sometimes it uses a combination of the two.