Reading the World: Integrating Geography in an English Language Learner Literacy Program

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Leeds]On: 26 November 2014, At: 09:04Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of GeographyPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

    Reading the World: Integrating Geography in an EnglishLanguage Learner Literacy ProgramScott N. ForrestPublished online: 16 Aug 2007.

    To cite this article: Scott N. Forrest (2002) Reading the World: Integrating Geography in an English Language Learner LiteracyProgram, Journal of Geography, 101:5, 191-198, DOI: 10.1080/00221340208978499

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  • Reading the World: Integrating Geography in an English Language Learner Literacy Program

    Scott N. Forrest

    ABSTRACT English language development

    classes focus on teaching students of other languages how to speak, read, and write English. They must also prepare students to meet the many standards and require- ments that are prerequisites to content classes, such as geography, and high school graduation. This discussion focuses on the integration of literacy and geogra- phy in a classroom with English language learners. A common English language development model, the "Into, Through, Beyond model of learning, sets a founda- tion that integrates components of English language acquisition with language arts and geography standards. In turn, this approach to learning prepares the learners for success in social and academic arenas.

    Key Words: English language acquisition, literacy, critical pedagogy, geographic educa- tion, integrated curriculum

    Scott Forrest is a teacher at Escondido High School in Southern California. He teaches English language development and loth grade college prep English. Although these classes focus on English, he incorporates geographic education in all of his courses. Additionally, he is a graduate student at San Diego State University, earning an M.A. in policy studies in languages and cross cultural education.


    must be on producing literate learners. Literacy is more than the general notion of reading, writing, and speaking. Literacy may be expressed in many different forms: functional, academic, workplace, information, constructive, emergent, cultural, and critical (Wink 2000). Thus, reading, writing, and speaking are acquired and used within social, cultural, and political contexts (Powell 1999). In addition to addressing the implications of literacy, educators must consider the mandated criteria to which a literacy program must adhere: state content standards, district standards, English language development standards, and con- tent subject standards (such as geography), to mention a few. How are teachers able to guide English language learners effectively through the maze of all these requirements? How are students able to learn all that is required effectively? Is it possible for English language learners to learn geography skills while concur- rently acquiring literacy and higher order thinking skills?

    Considering these important aspects of developing an integrated litera- cy/geography program, a working definition of "literacy" must be in place. However, educators are faced with the question of what "literate" means. For this discussion, Joan Wink's (2000) definition of literacy will be used. She asserts that "literacies" are reading, writing, and reflecting. Literacies help us make sense of our world and do something about it (Wink 2000, 55). This defin- ition is useful when we realize that the goal of education is to prepare learners to contribute positively to and succeed in the world. The definition is especially appropriate when addressing the National Geography Standards (Geography Education Standards Project 1994). Students study, interpret, and interact with the world through the study of geography. Thus, learners must learn to listen, read, write about, interpret, and communicate with the world in which they live. In other words, they must learn to "read the world."

    The purpose of this discussion is to consider a framework through which a curriculum meets the mandates of standards. It also addresses the needs of students as they become more actively involved in the world. A frame- work commonly promoted through English language acquisition programs is the "Into, Through, Beyond model. This model is used in literacy programs such as Project Write. The publishers of Project Write, the WRITE Institute (2000), explain the focus of each segment of the model. The "Into" section of the model builds on the background of each student. Activities motivate students to analyze their personal life experiences in relation to the reading materials. The "Through component involves the direct and explicit instruction of English language skills and concepts. Also, lessons are geared for student interaction and acquiring of core concepts across curricular lines. The "Beyond portion extends the learning beyond the confines of the classroom into the lives of students (WRITE Institute 2000). The students express their learning by producing culminating products. These products are then linked to the students' lives through consequent activi- ties. Table 1 summarizes this model. Later, specific examples using the model

    There is little argument that the focus of an effective literacy program

    Journal of Geography 101: 191-198 02002 National Council for Geographic Education




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    Table 1 Summary of the Into, Through, Beyond Model

    Into Through Beyond

    Motivate students - Direct/Explicit Instruction Extend beyond the classroom *Relate to reading materials English language skills and concepts Relate to lives of students

    Incorporate life experiences Collaborative work Opportunities for students to and cultures express their learning

    are discussed. The "Into, Through, Beyond curriculum model

    provides a framework through which an English language development program spans the components of literacy and meets the requirements of geography and language arts standards. Additionally, the model empowers student learning. The "Into" component provides a pathway for English language learners to enter a unit of study. It pro- vides strategies to link the existing student knowledge to a geography unit of study. The "Through" component engages learners with the content of the unit. They are encouraged to interact with the content within meaningful contexts. The "Beyond" portion extends the students' learn- ing. Students are empowered to express their newly acquired knowledge effectively by using the knowledge in various aspects of life.

    Beyond" model provides a foundation for the literate and geographic development of English language learners. The following theories and applications are appropriate with any mix of native languages and cultures. Three compo- nents of an effective literacy program for English language learners are incorporated within the model. The three com- ponents are valuing heritage cultures and self-identity, learning through social activity, and developing student voice. These three components are analyzed in light of cur- rent learning theory and research as well as their integra- tion with geography education. More specifically, three of the National Geography Standards (Geography Education Standards Project 1994) are highlighted based on how they are adapted within the model.

    This discussion argues that the "Into, Through,

    INTO - VALUING CULTURAL HERITAGE AND SELF-IDENTITY Geography Standard 6 - 'The Geographically informed person knows and understands how culture and experience influence people's perception of places and regions" (Geography Education Standards Project 1994).

    The "Into" segment of the model builds on the background knowledge and experiences of the learners. This is a crucial component, because students build their new knowledge base on the


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