That is how I feel about language frames.
I love them! I believe in them! I have seen them work over and over!
On Saturday, I spent the day with some fantastic teachers from Lufkin ISD and Nacogdoches ISD. I led a session on using language frames to build academic language. Because I always need an analogy, I titled the training, "It Just Needs a Little Salt: Using Language Frames to Preserve and Flavor Your Content Lessons."
I believe that language frames are one of the simplest and most effective language acquisition strategies available to us. Like salt, language frames are a small, CHEAP thing that can go a long way in preserving and flavoring the academic language of your lessons.
Ever since I first learned about language frames, I find a way to work one in to every lesson that I have planned. I think they are especially important in the bilingual and dual-language classroom. Teachers are often concerned that students are not using the target language when doing group work. I believe that it is fine for students to process in their dominant language as long as they can ultimately produce the product in the target language.
The video above is from a small group math tutoring session where I had just introduced the game Multiplication Rio. As you can hear, the students' natural tendency would be to just use Spanish but I gave them the frame # multiplied by # is equal to #. BAM! This little math game is now doubly effective as these girls practice math while getting in a little English Language Development at the same time!
Want to read more about using language frames in the classroom?
- This document has organized sample language frames according to the language function (cause and effect, compare and contrast, summarizing, etc.) and has them color-coded according to language proficiency level.
- This site explains how one primary teacher uses language frames to build vocabulary.
- This upper grade science teacher shares how sentence frames make for richer discussions.
- Some of my very favorite researchers/authors Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey write here about the importance of using sentence frames to lighten the linguistic load so that students can focus on the content.
Do you use language frames in your classroom? How have they made a difference with your students?