Table of Contents

Unit 2: Dimensions of Text Complexity

2.3.1 Text Complexity with English Learners

To increase instruction and the achievement for English learners (ELs) to the level of linguistic complexity called for in the CCSS for ELA/Literacy requires a focus on English language development and scaffolding strategies across the curriculum. The new California English Language Development Standards, adopted on November 7, 2012, are aligned to the CCSS for ELA/Literacy.

Time to Read

California’s 2012 English Language Development StandardsAppendix C: Theoretical Foundations and Research Base” has an excellent discussion on scaffolding that is relevant to help all students access complex text within the classroom. Read the explanation of scaffolding below and then look at the suggestions taken from Appendix C.

All students can benefit from scaffolding within the classroom that is designed to help students access challenging material. According to the California Department of Education’s 2012 English Development Standards, “Appendix C: Theoretical Foundations and Research Base” scaffolding “supports students on how to do something with support today that they will be able to do independently in the future.” Teachers should adjust the degree of scaffolding, light, moderate, or substantial, depending on the needs of each task and each student. Appendix C identifies two types of scaffolding: planned scaffolding and just-in-time scaffolding. Teachers prepare planned scaffolding before the lesson “in order to support students’ access to the academic content and linguistic development” of the text. “This planned scaffolding in turn allows teachers to provide just-in-time scaffolding during instruction, which flexibly attends to students’ needs as they interact with content and language.”

Refer to this handout “Scaffolding for English Learners” from Appendix C for the suggestions of both planned and just-in-time scaffolding.

Time to Reflect

Select an example of planned scaffolding that you could use in an upcoming lesson.



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Time to View

In addition to these types of scaffolding, researchers recommend close attention to the text’s language. View the following video, "Lily Wong Fillmore: Text Complexity, Common Core, and ELLs"  from Understanding Language where she discusses the instructional challenges for educators in increasing the text complexity. We will examine the article on this Web page later in the module.