Organizational and Social Theory in ESOL instruction

Academic Paper, 2007

37 Pages, Grade: 12.5




Annotated Bibliography

Introduction to the Analysis
Social Theory in the Classroom
How systems fail
Analytical conclusion



The goal of the Depth component of this Knowledge Area Module is to synthesize and analyze recent research that supports the use of (and explains how to apply) systems theory into the creation of an effective extensive reading program in the ESL/EFL classroom. The theoretical framework of this research are is Bronfenbrenner’s model of human ecology The analysis of the research will demonstrate a) the effectiveness of an extensive reading program within an ESL program as a system working within a system b) the effectiveness of the interdependence among the components of the extensive reading program, and c) the importance of the role of each element of the learning system.

Annotated Bibliography

Brantmeier, C. (2005). Nonlinguistic variables in advanced second language reading: Learners' self-assessment and enjoyment. Foreign Language Annals, 38 (4), 494-504.

The purpose of this research is to demonstrate how a well-rounded learning social system within the classroom that is based on reading skills is proven as an effective factor for second language learning skills. The philosophical background of the study states that second language (L2) students who have strong reading habits and demonstrate enjoyment in reading are able to connect to language in general with ease, and that will, in turn, help them in learning a second language. The qualitative questions in the investigation asked students about their reading habits, including their likes and dislikes. In addition to that, the students assessed themselves as “excellent, good, or not very good” readers. They had an opportunity to also read a passage, do a written recall task, fill out a multiple choice questionnaire about that reading passage and fill out another multiple choice sheet about a familiar topic. All this data aimed to determine whether these students assessed their reading skills correctly in the first place. The results showed that students believed that they were satisfactory readers of Spanish and that they generally enjoyed reading in Spanish. The levels of self-assessed abilities positively correlated with levels of enjoyment.

The implications of the study are that an in-class organization system that is planned around the variables of self-assessment and enjoyment of L2 students will serve as predictors of successful second language learning. Factors such as anxiety, motivation, relevance, metacognition, inferencing, context cues, sound and symbol association, and comprehension are skills shared by both reading and second language learning, and an organized social learning system such an that supports effective reading will be the best conduit to enforce these practices. The importance of this research for the depth and application sections of this KAM is thnat it validates, along with other research in this bibliography that an effective ESL system in the classroom must allow for the student to exercise free will in selecting the tools that would help them connect to the language. Therefore, as part of an effective ESL system, teachers should provide a print-rich environment, and enrich the course with as much literacy exposure as possible.

Chamot, A. U., & O’Malley, J. M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

The Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) is an instructional model first proposed in 1986, and still considered one of the most potent approaches that was developed to meet the academic needs of students learning English as a second language in American schools (p.3). It is a model that was based on research findings on cognition. It integrates academic language development (ALL), content area instruction, explicit instruction in learning strategies, and it includes both content and language acquisition. The model has been reviewed and been refined. The result of the latest review is the CALLA Handbook, first published in 1994. The purpose of the handbook is to solidify a foundation and offer basic guidelines to build an effective a CALLA program. CALLA is an approach that integrates an entire academic curriculum under the scope of target language learning, making it useful and relevant to the learner.

The reason why this handbook is essential to the depth and application components of this KAM is because it explains the importance of including cooperative learning, the language experience approach, academic content, language skills, and learning strategies as part of any classroom-based learning system. The depth component of this KAM will analyze recent research about the effectiveness of extensive learning in the ESL classroom under the scope of Bronfenbrenner’s Social ecology theory. The application project will aim to actually build an extensive reading program using the model of social ecology, complete with all the aspects to be taken into consideration. On the basis of this, the CALLA handbook will be immensely beneficial since it offers the research-based factors that are most important to back up the rationale behind establishing such a program in an ESL classroom.

Clarity, M. (2007) An Extensive Reading Program for Your ESL classroom The Internet TESL Journal, 13 (8) page numbers?10-15.R retrieved from the Internet December 2, 2007 from The purpose of this article is to provide ESL/EFL teachers with guidelines and information that would promote an extensive reading program. The philosophical background of this article is a research-based premise that second language learners will improve their language learning skills through exposure to reading, as stated in other research articles within this KAM. The author offers a variety of rationales that support these claims.

Such rationale implies also that an extensive reading program is a way to connect the second language learner not only to the language skills, but also to the classroom as a social system.

Implementing an extensive reading program based on free will reading might help the second language (L2) student feel safe and accepted enough in the classroom to perceive himself as part of the social system within the classroom, its sociology, and himself as a member of a group. In addition to this, extensive reading can help L2 students engage in discussions, consolidate their vocabulary, develop their speaking fluency, learn new words, and develop a further love for literacy. The author suggests that adult ESL learners can benefit from an extensive reading program as well, particularly if the teacher can find creative ways to use books as conversation subjects i.e, book clubs, book discussion sessions, plays, and other.

The author gathered this information from her own personal experience as an ESL teacher, and from the ample amount of recent research that points to reading and exposure to literacy as key elements that aid in the process of second language acquisition. Moreover, the importance of this article to the depth and application components of this KAM is that it shows how including this element as part of an effective ESL program not only will aid in the student’s learning success, but it also mirrors the social systems theory and the model of social ecology. The way it does it is by centering the student in the nest of a multi-level classroom system where all the tools are provided to ensure success. Cooperative learning and the establishment of an in-class social system are emphasized via differentiated grouping according to lexile level, group projects where students with multiple learning levels help each other succeed, and group discussions that address rules, organization, and mutual respect. These are the ways in which an extensive reading program is implemented as a social system, In addition to it, it shows how implementing an extensive reading program will help the student seek and identify his or her role within a social system conducive to learning.

Deckert, G. (2006). What helped highly proficient EFL learners the most? TESL Reporter, 39 (2), 1-15. The purpose of this study is to determine effective methods of EFL instruction using the learning experiences of 48 adult participants who have been EFL students themselves. The participants are faculty members in different universities throughout the United States. They all learned English at different points in their lives, and none attended the same EFL program. The study used self-repot data that was collected via surveys with questions that asked them about both formal and informal experiences learning their second language (L2) in seven types of different areas of exposure. The two types of exposure ranked least useful are formal ESL classes prior to and during university, while the two highest ranked are using English as a teacher or professor and as a student in regular university classes. In another table, free reading was ranked as the most helpful out-of-class activity. The implications of this study are that the use of the target language by the teacher is as important to the student as the fact that they prefer to learn it “unconsciously”, that is, casually and through incidental learning rather than focused vocabulary lists and specific grammar tasks. The systemic influences in the reading program include a) the implementation of a system of rules and mutual respect; b) the creation of differentiated instructional groups that help each other learn the language through conversation and discourse, c) establishing the home, parent, school, and district supports in the form of supplies, support groups, and financial aid needed to enhance the reading program, and d) the mutual support that the students, the teacher, the parents, and the school as a system give each other in the aim of the goal of learning. TThe importance of this research article to the depth and application portions of this KAM is that it provides further elements to be included in an effective classroom-based ESL system that will ensure student success. It also shows that, as with other research in this paper, exposure to reading and allowing for free reading are again included as effective learning methods.

Fritze, J., & Rowan, K. (2005). Access to books and a quiet comfortable place to read: A practical guide to establishing a free voluntary reading program. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 1 (4), 27-29. Retrieved November 10, 2007 from This paper is philosophically grounded in the frameworks that second language (L2) acquisition is most effective when students are exposed to literacy. The author bases that premise to advocate that the highest level of access and availability to reading materials is imperative to make this aspect of second language learning a successful system. The article calls for the use of a classroom library is a resource that would continuously expose all students to literacy and reading materials, and L2 students would benefit immensely from this opportunity to do free, voluntary reading. However, the author argues that the two main problems that teachers face when creating these libraries include limited access to the right books, and lack of learning environments conducive to reading inside the classroom.

Other factors such as time management, class schedules and testing requirements of each school makes it harder for teachers to dedicate a block of free reading time for their students. Due to these constraints, the authors offer a guide with suggestions on how to overcome these obstacles. The suggestions for getting books include obtaining access from a public library under a teaching account that would allow more checkouts for longer periods of time, using school and PTO funding for the purchase of yearly-based licenses that allow printing and downloading books online, asking for scholastic book order donations, and inviting the parents to participate in book fairs.

For accessibility, the authors suggest the use of rain gutters as bookshelves that can be mounted to the walls, asking for donations of comfortable, soft chairs or bean bags, large pillows, and sheets to place on the floor, asking the students to elect their spot to read and the titles that they want to read, and putting all materials at eye level, within reach, labeled, and organized. The importance of this research to the depth and application portions of this KAM is that it offers yet another element that can be included in a model ESL system within a classroom, and also provides different ways to involve the mesosystem within the ecology of the classroom as a social system.

Furr, M.(2007). Reading circles: Moving great stories from the periphery of the language classroom to its centre. The Language Teacher, 31 (5), 15-18.

This article shows the importance of using reading circles in order to teach second language. Reading circles combine the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening that would benefit greatly those students who are learning English for the first time. According to Furr, they “provide two things often lacking in many communication courses: material that is both comprehensible and interesting to talk about, and a framework which makes having a real discussion in English an achievable goal for students.” In the research presented in the article, Furr shows that communication courses often lack the materials that would help support and enrich the process of learning English.

The research suggests that students have a proven tendency to enjoy reading graded readers, regardless of their age groups. It is the level of the book and the ability to connect to books of the proper lexile level what primarily motivates students to continue reading. ESL learners are no different in this respect. Therefore, the author proposes that reading circles would serve as the vehicle that these students would need, regardless of their age group, to connect to the language, and to other students who also share a love for reading. The article also advocates the use of reading circles as a way to entice communication, classroom discussions, dialogue, critical thinking, and to foster a continuous love for reading.

Gardner, D. (2004). Vocabulary input through extensive reading: A comparison of words found in children's narrative and expository reading materials. Applied Linguistics, 25 (1), 1-37.

The purpose of this research is to assess the claim of effectiveness of the Wide Reading and Free Reading in-class system as a methodology. This system consists in using extensive reading as a strategy to build vocabulary. The Wide Reading and Free Reading philosophy is that language acquisition is mostly learned incidentally through “repetitive encounters with unknown words” found within a textbook that the student has selected freely and for pure enjoyment. The quantitative design of this investigation consisted on analyzing the lexical differences between narrative and expository reading materials used in upper-elementary programs. The students using these materials are approximately 10 and 11 years of age. This analysis aimed to answer the research question of how these differences could affect the children’s potential vocabulary acquisition through reading. The data was obtained from results of a computerized analysis where 1.5 million word tokens were found.

The information reveals that there are marked differences between “28 narrative and 28 expository children’s books”. These differences ranged from overall token distribution and individual repetitions at all the levels of vocabulary and were based on general high frequency (Dolch) words, higher skill or academic high frequency words, and specialized words. Further data analysis exposed a significant amount of register-specific words at all levels of vocabulary, particularly at the more specialized levels where the potential for protracted vocabulary growth is the greatest. The qualitative portion of the study addresses the differences in the characteristics of these exclusive narrative and expository types of books. This article is relevant to the depth and application portions of the KAM because it is one of many researches that encourages ample literacy as part of an effective language learning system in an EFL class.

Ghosn, I. K. (2002). Four good reasons to use literature in primary school ELT. ELT Journal, 56 (2), 172-179.

This research article exposes how the increasing popularity of teaching English as a Foreign language in the elementary and primary schools throughout the world has prompted overall curricular modification. Extensive research points at reading and exposure to literacy as imperative methods that would ensure the success of the second language (L2) student within the classroom, and as a language learner. Considering these frameworks, the modifications show that reading has taken main place in all learning systems. Modifications to the curriculum of a school, particularly those concerning L2 students must be dynamic and flexible, as research continues to provide new insights on what are the best practices for L2 students.

Therefore, this article focuses on the previously mentioned information to advocate reading as a main component in a second language program, and provides the rationale behind this claim. The article offers a series of suggestions to consider for an effective ESL classroom program. It states that it is important to identify the types of materials that best prepare pupils for academic work in L2.

The traditional structurally-based texts and the newer, integrated, communicative courses might not be sufficient for the demands of the academic classes. On the other hand, a syllabus that is based, or that draws heavily on authentic children's stories, provides a motivating medium for language learning while fostering the development of the thinking skills that are needed for L2 academic literacy. Literature can also act as a powerful change agent by developing pupils' intercultural awareness while at the same time nurturing empathy, a tolerance for diversity, and emotional intelligence.

Gibbons, P. (2006) Bridging discourse in the ESL classroom. Sydney. Continuum International.

This book presents a compilation of research performed by Gibbons herself, where she examines the interactions between learners and teachers in a content-based classroom where English is the primary language. The investigation aims to disclose patterns of discourse which can support the second language acquisition component of the classroom as well as curriculum integration, learning, and all the contexts in which they occur. The importance of this book to the literature and research component of the depth and application portions of this KAM is that it organizes the observations of how the learning occurs in the classroom under a sociocultural scope. This scope translates into classrooms that are sociologically organized, showing the basic social systems basics such as classroom rules, roles, support systems, and leadership. According to Bronfenbrenner’s model of social ecology, all these elements are essential for the proper development of a well-rounded individual.

The research paper component of this KAM will show how the social ecology theory can be applied into an ESL classroom’s extensive reading program. Therefore, Gibbons’s book presents as if in a graphic organizer different ideas that can be applied to an extensive language program using the model of social ecology to anticipate greater language acquisition. In addition to this organizational benefit, Gibbons provides enough background research that, combined with the other research presented in the annotated bibliography of this KAM, will serve as both theoretical and research frameworks to prove the effectiveness of a potential program of this nature.

Gibbons’s book starts with a sociocultural view on language and learning that is later combined with the inclusion of literacy in the ESL classroom. On the second part of her book, she describes the roles of both teachers and learners within the classroom as part of a social system that interacts together to make one common mission possible: The acquisition of language.

Hunt, A. & Beglar, D. (2005). A framework for developing EFL reading vocabulary. Reading in a Foreign Language, 17 (1), 23-59. Retrieved April 27, 2007, from

The purpose of this paper is to propose a systematic framework for EFL teaching that can be implemented and used in a learning system in order to speed up the process of lexical development. This systems-based framework consists of two approaches: promoting explicit lexical instruction and learning strategies, and encouraging the use of implicit lexical instruction and learning strategies. The problem of the study is that EFL learners frequently acquire “impoverished lexicons” despite years of studying language. The study argues that effective second language vocabulary should be the focus of all EFL programs.

The investigators focus on the crucial strategies that will guarantee the success of this program: 1) acquiring decontextualized lexis, 2) using dictionaries, and 3) teaching how to use cues to infer context. The study advocates implicit lexical instruction though the use of integrated task sets, narrow reading and, as with much recent research-based evidence, the use of extensive reading is especially encouraged. In fact, the study claims that extensive reading is “arguably the primary way that EFL learners can build their reading vocabulary to an advanced level”. The importance of this research to the depth and application components of the depth and application portions of this KAM is that it adds more evidence to the need of implementing a systematic program into second language systems that uses research-based, effective methods of teaching and learning as will be shown in the research paper and application project.

Krashen, S. (2007). Free voluntary web-surfing. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 3 (1), 2-9. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from The purpose of this paper is to support alternative teaching methods of second language learning in addition to the methodologies that are most commonly accepted by recent research. Krashen argues that teachers might be overlooking tools that are already in place in the classroom, and which could be use creatively as an alternative method of teaching and assessment for ESL/EFL. The methodology Krashen is particularly focused on in what he calls Free Voluntary Web surfing. This method is Krashen’s take on Wide Reading and Free Reading approach where students are allowed to select reading titles, and whose main goal is to expose children to language through books as the primary source of consistent language exposure. Based on that premise, Krashen concludes that one of the sources of most print-rich information is, undoubtedly, the Internet.


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Organizational and Social Theory in ESOL instruction
Walden University
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
ell, esol, second language learning, social systems theory
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Michelle Ossa (Author), 2007, Organizational and Social Theory in ESOL instruction, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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