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Vol 56 No. 12 | Oct. 2004
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Grant to Assist Students Academic English Skills

Kim-Oanh Nguyen-Lam, interim director of CSULB's Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER), received $44,800 from the Tracy School District for the Delta Island School English Language Development Instruction project, which runs through June 30.

This project provides professional development service to teachers and administrators to better serve students who are not quite proficient in English to acquire academic English and move ahead in their learning.” Our primary goal is to support higher academic achievement for all students, especially those from underserved groups,” said Nguyen-Lam, who joined the university in 1993. “Many of the students who are not ‘making the grade' or who are considered underachievers are students who are new to the school system and are still in the process of learning English. They are at many different levels of English proficiency.

“This makes it a challenge for teachers to meet their needs,” he added. “Some understand more than half of the teachers' instruction. Others may understand very little. The teachers are developing ways to deliver instruction that meets the needs of students from various proficiency levels. They learn to assess their students to know how much each student understands English and then tailor their instruction accordingly.”  

The focus of the project is on Differentiating ELD Instruction - which means that teachers will learn to provide English language development to students according to their level of English language proficiency. The grant process began when the Tracy School District contacted CSULB's CLMER to provide a year-long, in-service program.  

“We have two professional development staff coming to work with the teachers at their school site two days a month for the entire school year,” she explained. “One day will be workshop/lecture/small group activities including lesson planning and debriefing from previous sessions. On the second day, our staff visits classrooms to observe and give teachers feedback on how effective they are in trying out new instructional strategies to help their students.”

Nguyen-Lam is a member of CSULB's class of 1980 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She went on to acquire two masters degrees, one in educational psychology and a second in educational administration. She received her doctorate in 2002.   The origins of the grant began in 2001 when California's State Department of Education adopted standards for English Language Development instruction, which tell teachers what students at each language and grade level need to master.  

“However, there has been no training to help teachers deal with teaching ESL students at many different language levels at one time,” she said. “Our professional development program is unique because it does specifically that. We had a team working on the curriculum for this project for close to a year. Currently, our two staff key specialists are Peggy Morrison and Leolyn Boyer. We also work with a consultant who is known nationally for her work in this area, Dr. Adel Nadeau. Together the team provides the training for contracted school district.”

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