English 3D: Research Evidence Base
At a glance
  • Program: English 3D
  • Subject: English Language Development
  • Report Type: Research Evidence Base
  • Grade Level: Elementary, Middle, High
The Challenge

Almost four-and-a-half-million students in the United States participated in programs for English learners (ELs) during the 2012–2013 school year, the most recent year for which data is available. These students make up 9.2 percent of the total student population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2015). It is estimated that between one-quarter and one-half of all English learners who enter US schools in the primary grades will become long-term English learners (LTELs). These students have been enrolled in school for over six years and are stalled in their progress toward reaching English language proficiency (Olsen, 2014). Not surprisingly, the challenge of learning a new language in school while also trying to learn advanced content in that language can lead to academic struggles, disengaged learning behaviors, and withdrawal from the educational community. LTELs are more likely than their peers to drop out of school, to take longer to graduate, and to graduate at much lower rates (Callahan, 2013; Gwynne et al., 2012; Kim, 2011).

In the era of rigorous standards, English 3D is specifically designed to support progressing English learners at various stages in their English language development so that they will have the tools needed to meet the challenges of the heightened expectations. Language development programs that are specifically designed to meet the needs of English learners are critical to help them accelerate toward English language proficiency.

While many English learners are competent in social and conversational English, they struggle with academic language. These students are often challenged by literacy tasks, especially as the texts they encounter become more complex. This creates acute gaps in their language and literacy skills that then contribute to performance below grade-level expectations at school. Some of the factors that contribute to English learners becoming long-term English learners include a language arts curriculum that is not designed to meet their needs, not enough targeted English language support, literacy interventions that do not include a focus on English language development, and isolation from classmates and language opportunities (Kinsella, 2011; Olsen, 2010).

Despite the national need for more effective instruction for ELs and LTELs, there is a dearth of appropriate programs to address the academic language and discourse needs of these students. Many schools and districts have tried to address this gap by providing a mainstream English language arts class with an additional hour of support; however, this approach typically lacks an explicit focus on academic language (Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007). As such, the challenge that educators face is finding a way to address students’ language needs effectively and efficiently in order to ensure that their education becomes a path to college, career, and life readiness (Kinsella, 2011; Olsen, 2010).

How English 3D Meets the Challenge
The content, routines, and portable language functions available in English 3D enable all academic English learners to be a part of a dynamic community of learners that are moving toward college and career readiness.

English 3D was first developed in partnership with Dr. Kate Kinsella in 2011. Each version of this unique language development program has been designed to ensure proficiency in the “language of school”—the academic language, writing, discourse, and demeanor vital to success in secondary school, college, and career—while providing opportunities for building a knowledge base in the content areas. In the newest version of English 3D, designed for 21st-century success, eight evidence-based principles for language development are at the core of the program:

  1. Focus on English language development for long-term English learners.
  2. Utilize consistent instructional routines.
  3. Explicitly teach language elements.
  4. Extend prior knowledge of language and content.
  5. Model verbal and written academic English.
  6. Orchestrate peer interactions with clear language targets.
  7. Monitor language production conscientiously.
  8. Provide timely, productive feedback on verbal items.

These evidence-based principles provide a dedicated context for explicit language instruction. For each of the core principles, this document covers the research base and the ways that English 3D delivers for each one.

The curricular underpinnings of English 3D were developed by Dr. Kinsella over multiple years through her involvement with adolescent English learners in San Francisco State University’s Step to College Program and through her extensive consultancy, training, and in-class coaching with upper-elementary and secondary schools. The foundational instructional routines orchestrated within each English 3D unit are research informed and classroom tested by Dr. Kinsella herself and scores of teachers she has trained and coached. In doing so, she is confident that experienced and novice teachers alike will find the instructional units replete with targeted, robust, and thought-provoking lessons to engage their students in dynamic, interactive academic language, literacy, and writing development.

Dr. Kinsella has great respect for the multilingual and multicultural experiences and advantages that English learners bring to the classroom. English 3D helps teachers to leverage the students’ prior language learning experiences as strengths and assets in learning English as a second language.

The content, routines, and portable language functions in English 3D enable all academic English learners to be a part of a dynamic community of learners that are moving toward college and career readiness. As such, the program aligns to the key tenets of rigorous English Language Arts (ELA) and English Language Development (ELD) standards in Language, Speaking and Listening, Writing, and Reading as is detailed in the following pages.

Introduction to How English 3D Meets Rigorous Standards


English 3D meets rigorous ELA and ELD standards in Language by providing:

  • Direct instruction in high-utility and domain-specific academic words, and frequent opportunities to read the words in authentic texts and use them in speaking and writing to build students’ academic vocabularies
  • Instruction that frontloads academic vocabulary to allow students to access complex texts
  • Study of academic word families to build word knowledge and understanding of how English works
  • Development of nuanced word knowledge and practice in choosing precise words to use in academic speaking and writing
  • Opportunities for teachers to guide students in determining the meaning of unfamiliar words that they encounter while reading complex texts
  • Daily opportunities for written response and academic discussions in pairs, small groups, and whole class to build language proficiency
  • Response frames that focus on essential language elements and grammatical targets
  • Explicit instruction in conventions and language skills required for success in writing specific academic text structures

Speaking and Listening

English 3D meets rigorous ELA and ELD standards in Speaking and Listening by providing:

  • Academic discussions, speeches, and interviews that structure frequent opportunities for students to prepare and present ideas orally using formal academic English
  • Structured instructional routines that guide teachers to manage and facilitate student collaboration in pairs, in small groups, and as a whole class
  • Increasingly sophisticated frames that provide structure for language functions such as facilitating discussion, restating, comparing, agreeing and disagreeing, and listening actively
  • Response and note-taking tasks that hold students accountable for listening to and restating classmates’ ideas


English 3D meets rigorous ELA and ELD standards in Writing by providing:

  • Writing frames that guide students in writing increasingly complex paragraphs, essays, and research papers
  • Daily writing tasks that require brief constructed written responses to prepare students for advanced assessments
  • Instruction in the key elements and text structures of specific academic writing types
  • Extended formal writing assignments that focus on academic writing types, including summarizing, opinion/argument, informative text, and narrative text
  • Clear expectations, self-assessment, and peer feedback to inform revision, all based on the rubric that teachers use to assess student writing


English 3D meets rigorous ELA and ELD standards in Reading by providing:

  • Authentic, complex literary and informational texts that mirror texts students encounter in content-area classes and advanced assessments
  • Texts that are engaging, relevant, and meaningful to students
  • Instruction that supports students in reading and evaluating information and data to use in academic speaking and writing tasks
  • Text-based questions that require students to read closely to synthesize key ideas and details and analyze craft and structure
  • Multiple readings of relevant and engaging texts with recursive academic vocabulary to build reading fluency
English 3D Components Overview

English 3D is a program for English learners in Grades 4–12 who have stalled in their English language development. Course A meets the needs of students in Grades 4–5, Course B is for students in Grades 6–8, and Course C is for students in Grades 9–12.

The components of English 3D are designed to engage all students— particularly students whose struggles with academic English have resulted in disengaged learning behaviors—with materials that develop academic vocabulary and language, speaking and listening, and writing skills. These student materials consist of the Issues book, the Language & Writing Portfolio, and the Independent Reading Library.

The Issues book contains informational and literary texts based on six high-interest, relevant issues for students to respond to in academic discussions and writing. It also includes:

  • Data Files with statistical evidence from authentic sources
  • Text Features that include graphs, diagrams, and content connections
  • Academic Glossary with pronunciations, meanings, examples, word origins, and Spanish cognates
  • Academic Language Handbook with frames for language functions to reference during discussions
  • Academic Writing Handbook with descriptions, structure, and transitions for academic writing types

The Language & Writing Portfolio is an interactive worktext with scaffolds for student learning, instruction, and practice. It provides:

  • High-utility and domain-specific academic vocabulary
  • Frames for language functions to exchange information and ideas, support opinions and persuade others, participate in academic discussions, and complete academic writing tasks
  • Close reading and viewing questions that prompt students to respond with text evidence and analyze craft and structure
  • Formal assignments for academic writing types, including opinion/argument, summary, informational text, and narrative, with opportunities for self-assessment and peer feedback
  • Frames to write and present opinion/argument, informative, and narrative speeches

The Independent Reading Library consists of 20 high-interest, relevant, and engaging titles that span a wide variety of genres, text types, levels, and topics. The library includes:

  • 15 literary texts; four copies each
  • Five nonfiction titles; four copies each

The Teaching Guide is a comprehensive guide for routines, instruction, assessment, and differentiation. It contains:

  • Initial Issue with instruction to introduce and practice instructional routines during the first few weeks of school
  • Recursive instructional routines for academic vocabulary, speaking and listening, and writing
  • Planning Guides with targeted language objectives
  • Differentiated Support strategies to meet students at their level of English language proficiency
  • Daily Do Now tasks for reviewing and assessing academic vocabulary
  • Guidance for planning an independent reading program with summaries, discussion questions, and writing prompts for all Independent Reading titles
  • Information for placing and exiting students, administering and scoring summative, curriculum-embedded, and formative assessments, and using data to inform instruction
  • Resources to support language transfer, contrastive analysis, and using Spanish cognates
  • Glossary of English language arts and English language development terms

HMH Teacher Central® is a digital environment where educators can access tools and resources to instruct, differentiate, and assess. It includes:

  • Interactive whiteboard tools to display tasks and responses, model best practices, view multimedia, and make learning more visual and engaging
  • More than 200 projectable and printable resources including student assessments, rubrics, interview assignments, additional texts, resources for differentiation, grammar and conventions practice, language posters, and family letters
  • More than 90 classroom videos of Dr. Kinsella and other expert teachers modeling key instructional routines

English 3D offers teachers tools to place students, assess learning, inform instruction, and assign grades. The program contains a comprehensive system of assessments for learning (formative assessments) and assessments of learning (summative assessments) in addition to curriculum-embedded and performance-based assessments. The Individual Language Inventory and HMH Reading Inventory® help educators to inform placement and exit from the program, monitor progress, and assess English proficiency in speaking, listening, and writing.

The curriculum-embedded Issue Tests assess the curricular goals of each unit of instruction, including academic vocabulary and writing skills. The performance-based writing assignments and speeches include rubrics for students to self-assess as well as for teachers to provide feedback and inform grades. Finally, formative assessments, such as the Daily Do Now—a brief vocabulary task that students complete during the first three to five minutes of class—help teachers to inform instruction.

Evidence Base
Focused English Language Development

For English learners to advance in their education, they require access to rigorous curricula at their grade levels in a way that supports English language development. Without explicit English language development, most English learners will not gain proficiency in academic English (Olsen, 2010; Scarcella, 2003).

Effective language teaching is not synonymous with effective content teaching. English learners need dedicated time for second-language learning and practice (Kinsella, 2011; Gersten & Baker, 2000).

For English learners, a course focused on English language development will be more effective than a traditional English as a Second Language (ESL) course. A focused English language development course can address acute and distinct linguistic needs with an emphasis on academic speaking and writing. In this way, English learners can be propelled beyond an intermediate level in order to thrive in school (Olsen, 2010; Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007).

Proficiency in English requires targeted, systematic, and explicit instruction in English language development during a separate time of the school day. Students enrolled in an English language development course experience more growth in oral language than students who are not. Ad hoc, incidental lessons within another discipline do not provide the support that is needed for relevant English speaking and listening skills (Norris & Ortega, 2006; Saunders & Goldenberg, 2010).

Current research shows that effective English language development within core English classes transcends what is generally thought of as “good teaching.” By providing a dedicated context for explicit and informed language instruction, educators can reengage English learners who may have become discouraged by equipping them with the communicative confidence and competence needed to realize their academic and personal goals (Kinsella, 2011).

Half to three-quarters of LTELs have spent one to three years in mainstream classes with no special services. ELs in these classes exhibit higher dropout rates and lower levels of English proficiency than students in specific EL programs (Olsen, 2014).

Across Grades 4–12, English 3D provides systematic and explicit instruction in academic English and supports students in expanding their English language skills to new contexts and bridging these skills to grade-level academic texts and tasks across content areas.

How English 3D Delivers

English 3D is an English language development curriculum for Grades 4–12. This program was initially designed to address the advanced academic oral language and writing needs of middle school English learners, with a particular focus on supporting long-term English learners. With the addition of Course A and Course C, English 3D now provides support for English learners in Grades 4–12. English 3D is ideal for academic language learners, including long-term ELs and advanced EL/ELD students. English 3D has already experienced great success in school districts across the country, in progressing students’ English language development.

In 2011, English 3D Course B was launched. For middle school ELs in Grades 6–8, this unique program addresses the advanced academic oral language and writing needs of US-educated bilingual students who have stalled in their English language development.

In 2013, English 3D Course C was launched to provide a more advanced curriculum for English learners and LTELs in Grades 9–12. The goal of Course C is to accelerate students’ academic language development and to provide a course that meets the level of rigor of high school standards and assessments in the era of more rigorous standards.

Across Course A, Course B, and Course C, English 3D provides English learners in Grades 4–12 with a comprehensive and specialized English language development course.

English 3D provides systematic and explicit instruction in academic English and supports students in expanding their English language skills to new contexts and bridging these skills to grade-level academic texts and tasks across content areas. The English 3D Teaching Guides contain differentiated support and instructional strategies that have been explicitly written for students struggling with academic English. This rigorous English language development program allows English learners, especially long-term English learners and students at risk of becoming long-term English learners, to reach their academic, social, and career goals.

Consistent Instructional Routines

Effective teaching practices for all students, and especially for English learners, include aspects such as well-designed instruction and instructional routines, well-established classroom routines and behavior norms, clear instruction and supportive guidance as learners engage with new skills, effective modeling of skills, strategies, and procedures, and structured, focused interactions with other students (Goldenberg, 2013).

English learners require consistent instructional routines, rather than an eclectic array of strategies and activities, so that they can focus on learning critical content and using academic English (Goldenberg, 2008).

Instructional routines that are consistent with clear teacher and student roles, steps, and language targets maximize student engagement and language development (Gersten & Baker, 2000; Goldenberg, 2008).

Using a consistent array of strategies and activities to build vocabulary knowledge makes it more likely that English learners will internalize the steps needed to grapple with new concepts, language, and skills. It also gives them a better understanding of the teacher’s expectations for performance (Kinsella, 2011).

Instructional routines encourage students to engage with material by providing scaffolds that structure and support their responses. The instructional routines help to create a learning environment in which students can actively participate in a nonthreatening and flexible way (Kinsella & Feldman, 2005).

How English 3D Delivers

English 3D includes consistent instructional routines for vocabulary, academic discussion, writing, and more. Teachers use the recursive, research-informed instructional routines to facilitate  lesson planning and maximize student engagement and learning. Students find that teacher expectations and how students are encouraged to work are consistent, freeing up cognitive space for them to learn new content and skills.

There are three essential routines (Partner & Group Interactions, Using Response Frames, and Setting Up & Monitoring Tasks) as well as additional instructional routines (including Daily Do Now, Building Reading Fluency, Words to Know, Academic Discussion, Words to Go, and Peer Feedback). Guidance for using the essential routines is embedded throughout instructional routines at point of use. Each instructional routine includes a rationale and an “at a glance” section. The rationale explains why the routine is important and how it helps students develop language proficiency. The routine at a glance provides a quick reference and reminder of the steps to follow.

One of the three essential routines is the Partner & Group Interactions routine. This essential routine gives explicit ideas to teachers for preparing students for discussions: organize the classroom, partner and group students, and troubleshoot expectations. Once the class is prepared, the routine contains the following steps: establish expectations, assign “fast-finisher” tasks, assign “attentive listening” tasks, check for understanding, and cue start.

One of the instructional routines is the Words to Know routine. The purpose of the Words to Know instructional routine is to build domain-specific academic word knowledge to speak and write about an issue. The routine follows these steps: pronounce words to know, rate word knowledge, discuss word knowledge, explain meaning, and discuss examples.

The Teaching Guide contains step-by-step instructions and sample modeling to support teachers to use the routines flexibly with English 3D lessons and beyond. The Teaching Guide also includes additional implementation support that offers practical ideas for making the routines successful in the classroom. For example, ideas for using the interactive whiteboard tools appear throughout the instructional routines. In addition, teachers have access to professional learning videos of Dr. Kinsella and other expert teachers modeling the instructional routines in classrooms available on HMH Teacher Central.

Explicitly Taught Language Elements

A recent Practice Guide published by the Institute for Educational Sciences on Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School resulted in four evidence-based recommendations:

  • Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities.
  • Integrate oral and written English language instruction into content-area teaching.
  • Provide regular, structured opportunities to develop written language skills.
  • Provide small-group instructional intervention to students struggling in areas of literacy and English language development (Baker et al., 2014).

Instruction that helps English learners recognize specific linguistic elements makes it far more likely that students will acquire them. The use of both isolated and integrated lessons in form-focused instruction has proven effective, depending on the language feature that is being taught (Spada & Lightbown, 2008).

For English learners to develop a competent command of English, they need informed and intentional instruction in how English works. This can be accomplished by explicitly teaching language elements such as vocabulary, word usage, grammatical features, and syntactic structures (Kinsella, 2011).

English learners, especially those whose English development has stalled, must have conscientiously planned, explicit instruction in language elements, as well as daily structured and accountable opportunities to practice language so that they can leverage reading and writing assignments (Dutro & Kinsella, 2010).

While English learners benefit from targeted reading and writing interventions, just as English-proficient students do, their literacy support must include an explicit and systematic program that strengthens their verbal command of English vocabulary, syntax, and grammar (August & Shanahan, 2006).

Norris and Ortega (2006) analyzed 77 studies on second-language teaching practices and consistently found that form-focused, explicit teaching methods were most effective for English learners. Three of the elements of explicit language teaching that they pinpointed were: conscientiously directing students’ attention to a new word, grammatical form, or language rule; clearly explaining and demonstrating the language element; and providing ample opportunities for use of the language target in meaningful, scaffolded, and monitored contexts (Kinsella, 2011).

English learners must learn about how English works by gaining an understanding of text structure and cohesion, using nouns, verbs, and adjectives effectively to expand and enrich ideas, and connecting and condensing ideas within sentences (California Department of Education, 2012).

English 3D teaches students how English works, from word-level understandings to sentence-level understandings to text-level understandings.

How English 3D Delivers

In English 3D, students are explicitly taught language elements such as academic vocabulary, conventions, semantics, and syntax. Students then have multiple opportunities to practice the modeled and instructed language elements in structured contexts, with monitoring and feedback provided by teachers.

English 3D includes explicit instruction in language elements throughout the Teaching Guide. These language elements are not taught in isolation, but integrated into rich experiences with text and talk. In the Words to Go and Academic Discussion Instructional Routines, for example, there are model scripts to guide teachers in pointing out and providing model responses for specific grammatical targets. The writing instruction in English 3D is based on the teacher identifying and modeling the content and grammar required for each assignment.

Students develop speaking, listening, and writing skills by:

  • Stating and supporting perspectives using precise words and key language targets
  • Describing cause-and-effect relationships
  • Listening attentively and taking notes on ideas that support or challenge a perspective
  • Restating, comparing, and reporting classmates’ ideas
  • Responding to a question in writing with a topic sentence and two supporting details

English 3D includes explicit instruction to frontload conventions and language skills that students need to successfully complete academic writing assignments. The Teaching Guide and Language & Writing Portfolio provide grammar targets and language functions for each lesson. The language functions are practiced orally with partners or in small groups, and they get more sophisticated as students advance through the program.

One of the essential routines in English 3D is the use of response frames. The use of these frames provides a supportive structure for students to learn and practice new academic language. They clarify the linguistic features of an accurate response and expose students to the vocabulary, sentence structures, and grammatical forms of academic English. When using these frames orally or in written work, students get explicit guidance on what is needed to complete complex sentences. Teachers instruct students to look for clues in the frames to be able to correctly identify the grammatical functions necessary to use the language effectively.

English 3D teaches students how English works, from word-level understandings to sentence-level understandings to text-level understandings. Some of the strategies that are modeled, practiced, and assessed throughout the program teach students to understand the nuances of word meaning and register, use precise words, and identify transitions. Among the Learning, Language & Instructional Objectives for each lesson are strategies such as Connecting and Condensing Ideas in Writing, where students are taught, for example, how to paraphrase ideas from a text, and Structuring Cohesive Text, where students are taught, for example, how to analyze the elements that exemplify an informative text.

Prior Knowledge of Language and Content

Students come to school with meaningful experiences that are often culturally specific. Teachers have the opportunity to build on these experiences and make critical links between new information and the students’ prior knowledge (Echevarria, 2008; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992).

For students who are at a linguistic disadvantage in terms of lesson comprehension, tying new information to students’ previous personal, cultural, or academic experiences establishes the links that they critically need to make meaning of the content (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2007).

Helping learners from diverse backgrounds retrieve and enhance relevant background knowledge through brainstorming, visual media, or direct experiences increases their ability to learn and retain new information. These learners can struggle with comprehending a text or lesson concept because their schema or world knowledge does not match those of the culture for which the text was written (Jimenez, Garcia, & Pearson, 1996).

For English learners, text comprehension and associated discussions can be positively impacted by building and using critical vocabulary as a curricular anchor (Gersten & Baker, 2000).

Utilizing multi-modal instruction helps to bring what students already know to new learning experiences. Actively involving English learners in activities such as pronouncing and applying topic-related and high-utility vocabulary helps them to apply this knowledge to materials across subject areas (Dutro & Kinsella, 2010).

Long-term English learners need high-interest topics that consider their diverse experiences and language background to reengage them in school and foster class participation.

How English 3D Delivers

In English 3D, the Issues texts are relevant to students’ lives and provide a platform for daily discussions, debate, and writing. Long-term English learners need high-interest topics that consider their diverse experiences and language background to reengage them in school and foster class participation. The Issues texts act as scaffolds that support students to participate in academic discussions, complete academic writing tasks, and access grade-level text. The Issues texts use interesting and meaningful content to help reduce the cognitive load on students so that they can focus on developing their academic speaking and writing.

In English 3D, students explore six issues relevant to their lives through interesting and meaningful content. Fourth- and fifth-grade students in English 3D Course A engage in topics such as “How much screen time is too much?” and “Does recess give your brain a boost?” Students in English 3D Course B (Grades 6–8) explore questions like “How is texting changing the way we communicate?” and “Do images in the media harm teens’ body image?” High school students in Course C (Grades 9–12) explore Issues like “Are teens ready to get to work?” and “Is failure the secret of success?” In English 3D, students build conceptual and background knowledge by:

  • Exploring prior knowledge of a topic and taking notes using a graphic organizer
  • Reading data and statistics about a topic and discussing initial reactions with partners
  • Drawing on prior knowledge to make concept and language connections to deepen understanding of the central issue
  • Discussing understanding of topic-related academic words in collaborative groups
  • Generating written examples for topic-related academic words

The first section for every Issue helps students build knowledge: students read an overview of the Issue in the Issues book, complete a brainstorming activity, and then exchange their ideas with classmates. This allows the students to activate, exchange, and enhance their prior knowledge. After the Build Knowledge activity, students interact with a Data File in the Issues book that provides relevant background knowledge and vocabulary around the Issue.

Teachers can use the Brainstormer on the interactive whiteboard to activate background knowledge by brainstorming and recording ideas about the topic. The Brainstormer displays a graphic organizer in which the teacher can model responses or ask students to fill it in. The teacher can then save the graphic organizer and/or print copies for students to reference throughout their study of the Issue. The program contains many additional graphic organizers, which give students a note-taking device to record ideas as they activate prior knowledge about topics in small groups.

The Independent Reading Library in English 3D consists of culturally responsive texts with a representative sample of characters and authors. Students read engaging and meaningful books that they have interest in and also have some background knowledge in to support their understanding of the text. The texts in the library provide students with mirrors to themselves and windows on the world. In addition to the library, students interact with one type of multimedia per Issue, such as a poem, audio of an author reading a text, or video about a current event. Content connections throughout the texts support students in associating Issue topics to other content areas, such as science, social sciences, health, economics, and technology.

Models of Verbal and Written Academic English

English learners need significant, structured opportunities to engage in academic discourse through speaking and writing (Francis et al., 2006; Kinsella & Feldman, 2005). For English learners, structured approaches that model how to use academic English have been found to be more effective than approaches without structure or modeling scaffolds (Shanahan & Beck, 2006).

Research shows that there is a strong and apparent reciprocal relationship between reading comprehension and knowledge of both conversational and academic vocabulary (Baumann, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003; Duke & Pearson, 2002; Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001). By modeling verbal and written academic English, students have exposure to words through speaking and reading that can help them to build a wide range of oral and print vocabulary, which in turn aids reading comprehension (National Institute for Literacy, 2007).

For students to acquire the language of literacy, or academic language, they must encounter the structures and patterns of academic language in the materials they read. Modeling for English learners multiple ways in which to approach complex texts allows them access to and practice with academic language, and having them interact with the texts allows them to discover how English works (Fillmore & Fillmore, 2012).

Some specific strategies that assist English learners in writing essays and research papers that are required of them as they progress in school are to model strategies for communication using exemplars of sentences and paragraphs that demonstrate the vocabulary and sentence patterns of academic discourse (Wong, Fillmore, & Snow, 2000).

For English learners, providing explicit, interactive instruction that includes modeling of how to effectively use verbal and written academic English results in the greatest text comprehension gains, especially when the instruction relates the academic vocabulary words in the text to focal lesson concepts or when the words have general use in academic contexts (Kinsella, 2013).

Teachers are instructed and trained to provide a consistent model of proficient English for advanced social and academic purposes.

How English 3D Delivers

English 3D teachers model oral and written academic language throughout the program. Dr. Kinsella believes in the importance of teachers using and modeling academic register whenever speaking to students. Teachers are instructed and trained to provide a consistent model of proficient English for advanced social and academic purposes. These models allow English 3D students to effectively express themselves in writing and discussion.

The Issues book provides authentic academic texts and the Language & Writing Portfolio provides writing models and frames. These models include writing frames where the teacher can model how to complete academic writing types. The teacher models an entire frame, and then students go through it to practice the academic writing skills they have learned. In the Teaching Guide, annotations provide sample answers that teachers can use to model appropriate responses. Additionally, teachers can use the interactive whiteboard tools to display:

  • Responses to the Daily Do Now
  • Sections of the Brainstormer graphic organizers
  • Examples in the Vocabulary Builder
  • Responses to academic discussions in the Debate Tracker
  • Frames in the Writing Organizer

Teachers model how to choose and use appropriate and precise words for presentations, how to share and restate responses, and how to report and compare ideas.

The Academic Discussion instructional routine gives teachers and students a consistent format and relevant language supports to practice academic discussion around issue-related topics. It provides modeling and structured guidance for students to learn how to discuss lesson content using an appropriate academic register. This scaffolded routine begins with students brainstorming ideas in everyday language and then choosing more precise academic vocabulary from their receptive vocabularies and a targeted word bank. Students use academic frames to make a claim on one side of the issue, while noting syntactic and grammatical targets. Finally, partners voice their perspectives before contributing to a class discussion and taking notes.

The Student Writing Model instructional routine guides students through identifying, analyzing, and discussing key elements of an academic writing type in preparation for a formal writing assignment. In this routine, students analyze a writing model according to the rubric criteria that the teacher will use to assess their writing. This way, the expectations are transparent, and struggling writers can visualize the requirements of the assignment. The academic writing types and expectations gradually increase in complexity.

Peer Interactions with Clear Language Targets

Language objectives and the opportunity to apply the objectives in conversation are necessary to promote substantive oral language growth. Small-group and partnering activities will not be effective unless they appropriately apply principles of language development (Foster & Ohta, 2005; Gersten & Baker, 2000).

English learners need opportunities each day to communicate using more sophisticated social and academic English in order to make second-language acquisition gains. Oral language proficiency is necessary in order for reading and writing proficiency to develop (August & Shanahan, 2006).

Based on the research, best practices for English learners at various levels of English language learning include clustered placement into grade-level content classes with English proficient students, academic interactions with skilled English speakers to learn a more correct version of spoken English, and access to rigorous curricula at their grade levels (Kinsella, 2011; Olsen, 2010; Scarcella, 2003).

Expert opinion supports incorporating structured peer discussions around relevant content-area literacy instruction so that students have multiple opportunities to practice and hear academic language, which is especially important for English learners (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Dutro & Kinsella, 2010; National Institute for Literacy, 2007).

Creating an environment that encourages peer interactions with clear roles, language targets, accountability for implementation, and monitoring helps to ensure that English learners will make gains in language proficiency (Saunders & Goldenberg, 2010).

The primary goal of English 3D is to ensure that students develop the necessary verbal and written English skills to communicate effectively in social and academic settings.

How English 3D Delivers

Students in English 3D receive daily supported opportunities to interact with partners and small groups. English 3D provides numerous and varied peer interactions to maximize time on task, ensure accurate verbal responses, and require attentive listening. These tasks include clear expectations, embedded language targets, and accountability for participation. Teachers use classroom instructional routines daily so that students can move into “automatic pilot” and devote their full attention to the conceptual and linguistic demands of the lesson.

The Partner & Group Interactions essential routine allows the teacher to maximize the students’ time on task with frequent opportunities to use academic English for diverse purposes. These interactions require all students to be accountable for attentive speaking and listening and dynamic participation. As part of this routine, students learn and practice the 4 Ls of Productive Partnering: Look at your partner’s eyes, Lean toward your partner, Lower your voice, and Listen attentively. English 3D teachers can go to HMH Teacher Central to watch Dr. Kinsella model how to teach and review the 4 Ls of Productive Partnering.

Peer interactions provide students with the opportunity to practice speaking the academic language they have learned. Teachers introduce and model increasingly sophisticated frames that students use during peer and small-group interactions for different purposes, including facilitating discussion, reporting ideas, and agreeing and disagreeing. Additional frames for collaboration provide students with the language they need to discuss ideas with partners and in small groups. Student pairs collaborate to listen to and discuss each other’s perspectives. Rating and discussing words in small groups helps to build students’ topic-related word knowledge.

Students also collaborate with peers on written assignments. The Peer Feedback routine allows students to give feedback both in writing and orally to their peers. Writing assignments include a self- and partner-scoring guide. Students complete their academic writing assignments by:

  • Using a scoring guide that provides clear criteria to self-and peer assess their writing
  • Collaborating with a partner to write and discuss feedback and priorities for revision
  • Proofreading and editing for grammar and mechanics
  • Writing a final draft

In addition, English 3D provides teachers with tools to assist peer collaborations. The Student Selector Tool on HMH Teacher Central can be used by teachers to spin a wheel to partner students or to choose a student or a group for sharing.

The primary goal of English 3D is to ensure that students develop the necessary verbal and written English skills to communicate effectively in social and academic settings. The support that the program provides for peer and group interactions enables English 3D students to discuss, describe, and debate with confidence and competence.

Language Production Monitoring

Language acquisition is an evolving and dynamic phenomenon. It is better conceived as a developmental process of ongoing and fluid change rather than as a skill that is innately set with th student having static possession of some linguistic knowledge or behavior (Spada & Lightbown, 2008; Norris & Ortega, 2003).

In order to develop within students a sense of accountability to contribute equitably and responsibly while in the classroom and beyond, teachers must set expectations and carefully monitor student interactions. Monitoring the communication of English learners involves conscientiously listening to verbal responses and carefully reading written responses so as to determine whether students are skillfully applying the language skills that they are learning (Kinsella, 2011).

To elicit conceptually competent responses with linguistic accuracy, educators must establish clear language goals that go beyond just friendly discourse (Foster & Ohta, 2005).

Form-focused instruction assists students in learning features of the target language through providing communicative or content-based instruction that includes features of the language that they may not acquire without guidance. Intentional monitoring allows for opportunities within the classroom for productive form-focused feedback for students as well as subsequent unified-class lessons (Spada & Lightbown, 2008).

Educators should provide instruction that is focused on the forms of language that occur naturally. These forms of language are best modeled and practiced in the course of activities that use the language in meaningful interactions (Spada & Lightbown, 2008).

By ensuring that students comprehend tasks, engage productively in independent and collaborative work, and develop fluency with the ‘language of school, English 3D provides teachers with the tools and support they need to effectively monitor language reception and production.

How English 3D Delivers

It is essential for English 3D teachers to monitor the receptive and productive language of their students. The Setting Up & Monitoring Tasks essential routine provides teachers with procedures and support to help them actively monitor students to:

  • Communicate the importance of the task
  • Check understanding of directions
  • Redirect students who are off task
  • Listen to or read responses to determine whether students are applying language targets accurately
  • Provide frequent formative feedback
  • Identify challenges to address or reteach
  • Assist students who are struggling
  • Preselect students to give initial responses

The routine consists of targeting two or three students at a time, reading or listening to responses, providing feedback, preselecting students for whole-class reporting, and then eliciting additional responses.

In addition, the Setting Up & Monitoring Tasks essential routine includes strategies that teachers can use to elicit responses from the class. By picking a couple of students ahead of time so they are ready to respond, the teacher gives those students time to formulate an appropriate response. Those students share first, and then additional students are selected by the students that first shared, so that the responses “popcorn” around the room.

Among the resources available to teachers in English 3D are rubrics to help teachers monitor both spoken and written assignments. There are specific rubrics for the three different genres of speeches: opinion/argument, informative, and narrative. These allow the teacher to provide feedback specific to the genre of the speech. The students complete one formal writing assessment per Issue, and the teachers use a four-point rubric to give feedback.

For additional support, teachers can go to HMH Teacher Central to watch Dr. Kinsella model how to effectively monitor and elicit responses from students in a classroom. By ensuring that students comprehend tasks, engage productively in independent and collaborative work, and develop fluency with the “language of school,” English 3D provides teachers with the tools and support they need to effectively monitor language reception and production.

Timely and Productive Feedback

Timely feedback from an educator is a critical part of teaching students about the accuracy of their language use. This type of productive feedback on students’ spoken and written English is necessary for English learners to correct their errors (Spada & Lightbown, 2008).

Providing explicit instruction on specific language elements along with effective feedback is the most advantageous approach to responsive instruction on language use. Instilling in students linguistic awareness that is developed through conscientious instruction and structured practice allows educators to more easily guide students to internally identify errors and self-correct (Kinsella, 2011).

In a meta-analysis of 15 studies that investigated the effects of corrective feedback for English learners, Russell and Spada (2006) found that corrective feedback is absolutely necessary for students as well as lasting in its impact. The meta-analysis found that both oral and written and explicit and implicit corrective feedback is effective.

Corrective feedback on verbal production errors can be given through methods that are timely, effective, and respectful. By eliciting the correct form of language and utilizing metalinguistic prompts, short-term and long-term language learners receive greater benefit than from using recasts (Kinsella, 2011).

Students will respond to different types of corrective feedback in different ways, so teachers need to be able to provide oral and written feedback in a variety of ways and to adapt the feedback to particular students (Ellis, 2009).

Students prefer to receive more corrective feedback than teachers feel they should provide. Teachers must be willing and able to adapt their corrective feedback to their students’ abilities and the instructional context. Students who are struggling to complete an activity beyond their current ability may benefit from feedback that recasts their errors, while those closer to mastery may benefit from self-correction (Lyster, Saito, & Sato, 2013).

Sato and Lyster (2012) compared the effects of English interventions that teach students to provide peer feedback and interventions that only include peer interactions. They found that, while the interventions that included peer interactions offered opportunities for repeated practice and improved speech fluency, the interventions that taught students to provide peer feedback improved the students’ accuracy and fluency as well as the ability to monitor both their own language production and that of their peers.

How English 3D Delivers

English 3D provides multiple opportunities for teachers to provide corrective feedback to students. The Daily Do Now provides opportunities for students to receive immediate corrective feedback on their understanding and use of academic words. Students are encouraged to share their responses to the Daily Do Now activities and to explain the rationale for their responses. The teacher then points out the academic words, correct word forms, and relevant content in the student reporters’ responses.

In addition to the Daily Do Now, teachers have the opportunity to provide feedback on students’ writing assignments and speeches. Rubrics for teachers to score student writing and provide feedback are available on HMH Teacher Central. A scoring guide in the Language & Writing Portfolio and a rubric on HMH Teacher Central allow students and teachers to score their speeches.

The step-by-step procedures and implementation support that are found across the instructional routines include specific suggestions for providing feedback to students. These suggestions include how to give constructive feedback on the strategies that students learn and practice during the routine.

In addition to the support provided to teachers to give effective feedback, English 3D includes extensive support for facilitating peer feedback. The Peer Feedback instructional routine actively engages students in developing revision skills and improves the overall quality of their writing. The Peer Feedback routine is a structured and accountable writing revision strategy. During this routine, two students work together using a scoring guide to assess the content and organization of their drafts and to offer focused suggestions for revision. This routine develops students’ revision skills, clarifies writing expectations, increases accountability for writing, builds academic speaking and listening skills, provides immediate feedback, and reduces the number of drafts the teacher reads and assesses. Students use the same criteria during the Peer Feedback routine that teachers use to assess their final drafts.

Formative and Summative Assessment

Both assessment for learning (formative assessment) and assessment of learning (summative assessment) are essential for helping English learners reach proficiency in academic English. Teachers must be able to collect information about student learning on a daily basis to focus their instruction and also measure student progress toward learning goals (Alvarez et al., 2014).

Formative assessment, or assessment for learning, provides immediate and actionable information to teachers about student learning so that teachers can adjust their instruction to meet the students’ needs. Effective formative assessment must have lessons with clear goals, processes for gathering evidence of learning during lessons, processes for providing meaningful feedback to the evidence, peer and self-assessment, and a collaborative classroom culture (Linquanti, 2014).

Shepherd and Marzola (2011) found that teachers who incorporated formative assessments into their lessons increased student reading achievement scores more than teachers who did not use formative assessments. While formative assessments are beneficial for all students, they are particularly helpful for English learners as they highlight troublesome areas and provide guidance on what needs to be done to overcome them (Black & William, 2009).

Summative assessment, or assessment of learning, is used to determine whether students have reached proficiency in a skill or subject after instruction and can be helpful in determining student placement, interventions, and grades. For English learners, summative assessment is especially important for determining whether students should continue to be placed in an English development instructional course or if they should be reclassified (California Department of Education, 2014).

Standardized achievement tests often do not produce reliable and valid scores for ELs because they are not designed with the particular strengths and needs of these students in mind. Performance-based assessments can remove unnecessary linguistic complexity and offer opportunities for these students to present a more comprehensive picture of what they know in addition to their needs. Students often find performance-based assessments to be more engaging, and teachers often find them to be more instructionally useful (Abedi, 2010).

How English 3D Delivers

English 3D incorporates assessments for learning and assessments of learning. The program offers teachers daily opportunities to assess learning, inform instruction, and assign grades. Assessments, such as the Individual Language Inventory, also help schools and districts to assess students’ learning over the course of the year. The assessments in English 3D include:

  • Daily Formative Assessments
  • Individual Language Inventory
  • Curriculum-Embedded Assessments
  • Performance-Based Assessments in Writing and Speech

The Daily Do Nows assess students’ understanding and application of high-utility academic vocabulary. These daily formative assessments are brief vocabulary tasks that students complete during the first three to five minutes of class to review and assess domain-specific and high-utility academic words. Based on students’ responses to the tasks each day, the teacher can decide to review, reteach, or reinforce a particular academic word.

Teachers administer the Individual Language Inventory (Part 1: Oral) before beginning English 3D and after Issue 5. These one-on-one interviews allow teachers to collect data to consider student placement or exit, monitor progress in oral language based on English language development standards for speaking and listening, and determine a relative English proficiency level for a class to make informed decisions about instruction and differentiated support. The Individual Language Inventory (Part 1: Oral) was developed in collaboration with Dr. Jeff Zwiers, a senior researcher at Stanford University. His current work, supported by a National Professional Development grant, focuses on developing teachers’ practices for fostering students’ academic language and literacy across disciplines.

Teachers administer the Individual Language Inventory (Part 2: Writing) before beginning English 3D, after Issue 3, and after Issue 6. These formal writing tasks help to inform placement and exit from English 3D, monitor progress in writing, and determine students’ relative English language proficiency in writing.

Issue Tests are curriculum-embedded assessments that students complete at the end of each Issue. These tests assess domain-specific academic vocabulary, high-utility academic vocabulary, the language and convention skills of academic writing, and the text structure of academic writing.

Performance-based assessments include formal writing assignments in every Issue and speeches that students present after every two Issues. The formal writing assignments follow instruction for specific writing types (formal summary, opinion/argument, informative text, and narrative). Students complete a formal writing assignment and use a rubric with specific criteria to score their writing assignments and guide revision. HMH Teacher Central includes rubrics for teachers to score students’ writing, offer specific feedback, and inform grades. The speeches require students to plan, write, and present an opinion/argument, informative, or narrative speech. Throughout the year, each student will make a total of three formal academic speeches. The Language & Writing Portfolio includes a rubric for students to self-assess their speeches and set priorities for improvement. Teachers use speech rubrics from HMH Teacher Central to score students’ speeches, offer specific feedback, and inform grades.


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