104 TExES English as a Second Language (ESL) / Generalist EC - 4 Exam:
The TExES English as a Second Language (ESL) / Generalist EC - 4 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual has the skills and basic subject knowledge necessary to teach English and other elementary school level subjects to nonnative English speakers. This exam is similar to the Bilingual Generalist EC - 4 Exam except that this exam does not focus on bilingual teaching methods, but rather on methods specifically to help students learn English so those students can be taught other subjects in English as well. The exam consists of 180 questions, 160 of which are scored and 20 that are not scored, that are related to the following areas:
- English Language Concepts and Language Development (15 questions)
- English as a Second Language Instruction and Assessment (27 questions)
- Foundations of English as a Second Language Education, Cultural Awareness, and Family and Community Involvement (18 questions)
- English Language Arts and Reading (40 questions)
- Mathematics (15 questions)
- Social Studies (15 questions)
- Science (15 questions)
- Fine Arts, Health, and Physical Education (15 questions)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 - 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The registration fee for the ESL / Generalist EC - 4 Exam is $82 and the exam is only offered in a paper-based format. However, there may be other exams and fees in addition to this exam that are required in order to become a certified educator in an English as a second language program at the elementary school level within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Describe language development.
Language development is basically the same whether learning the native tongue as an infant or learning a second language later in life. The person listens to the words, determines what objects or concepts they represent, and learns to pronounce them, which leads to reading and writing them. The time it takes to learn any language is based on many factors: social, economic, and personal. No matter what age the person is, mastering a second language takes contact with people who speak the language fluently and years of practice. Learning a second language using material that is meaningful for the student in a stress-free environment is optimal. Studies have shown it takes two to three years to acquire basic conversational skills (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills - BICS) and five to nine years to comprehend the nuances (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency - CALP) of a new language. Based on these studies, teachers need to know the cognitive skills of an ESL student and plan lessons and activities just a bit above his level, so his English fluency will improve.
2. Discuss strategies and approaches for teaching English Language Learners.
In general, researchers have been unable to prove conclusively and empirically that any particular strategy for teaching English as a second language is effective in increasing retention, proficiency and fluency. The evidence that does exist comes from anecdotal observations, surveys and case studies. What has been determined is that most successful classroom methods incorporate several approaches, and the effectiveness of each depends upon the age of the students and the degree of language proficiency already attained. Choices should be made based on the students involved and the environment in which the instruction takes place. No matter what the age or level of English proficiency, students come to school with knowledge and experience; the efficacy of including the student's native culture in the classroom is well documented. Assigning a Culture Study project encourages him to share his heritage and requires research, interviewing family members, writing, creating visual aids, and giving an oral presentation. Building on and accessing prior knowledge inspires students to explore new ideas and learn new concepts. It also builds bridges of understanding with other students.
3. Discuss some potential problems that may be encountered while learning English.
The degree of difficulty a student has in learning English can sometimes be attributed to how much the student's native language differs from English. For example, a person who speaks French or Spanish might find it easier to learn English than would a person who speaks Chinese or Russian. ESL students may have problems with pronunciation, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. Variations in consonant and vowel sounds can cause problems, and can make the pronunciation of ESL students sound stilted and flat. American English has sixteen different combinations of vowels with sometimes only slight variation in pronunciation. Many languages have very few vowel sounds, which means students can have problems hearing, and consequently, pronouncing these sounds. English allows for clusters of consonants before a vowel is needed, several languages do not. So students may try to insert a vowel where there is none. Stressed and unstressed vowels can be very confusing. Native English speakers can determine the pronunciation by the word's placement in the sentence; ESL students sometimes can't distinguish the slight variations. For example: able, enable, and unable.
4. Describe potential problems students may have learning English grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
The English language has one of the largest vocabularies of any language currently in use. English has adopted, adapted and integrated words, phrases and expressions from many other languages. English uses more idiomatic words and phrases than most other languages, and these idioms can be specific to a particular region of the United States or a segment of the population. The same word can be used in multiple ways and have different meanings (to "spell" a word or come sit a "spell"), or two words can sound alike but be spelled differently and have different meanings (wood and would). English uses articles (the, a, an) a lot; other languages may lack articles altogether or use their versions sparingly. There isn't just one rule to make a positive word into its negative counterpart. For example: unable, inappropriate, dishonest, and amoral. All of these differences can make learning the English language a challenge. An ESL teacher must always be aware of these unique challenges and take measures to minimize their effect on students' ability to understand the material.
5. Discuss differences between written and spoken English and ways teachers can make a difference.
Spoken English sounds different depending upon the country, geographic location, idiom, and the education and ethnicity of the speaker. Dialects, accents and slang all influence speech patterns. English speakers from different countries may have difficulty understanding each other because of these variations. Written English is based on a defined set of rules (grammar) so a document written in formal English does not indicate a specific country. The only clues might be spelling ("colour" instead of "color") or context ("lift" instead of "elevator"). However, these variations usually don't cause problems with understanding. Teachers can help ESL students improve pronunciation and comprehension by enunciating clearly, speaking in a normal volume and at a normal pace, avoiding idioms and slang, and using appropriate gestures, pictures, charts and objects. Since cursive can be difficult to decipher, printing information clearly and legibly helps. Repeating, reviewing, rephrasing and summarizing frequently will help students organize and integrate data. Good classroom management and a predictable routine contribute to everyone's success.
6. Discuss some ideas to encourage cross-cultural understanding.
Society is diverse and schools reflect that diversity. Teachers play an important role in helping students understand and appreciate various cultures. Asking an ESL student to tell a story from his home country in his native language and then translate it into English builds his confidence. Sharing a favorite object from his homeland and explaining what it is encourages an appreciation for other cultures. It also generates questions that can lead to a lively discussion comparing and contrasting cultural mores and societal expectations that will lead to better understanding by all students. An effective strategy to address issues that arise between students with different cultural heritages is called misunderstandings. A student shares an incident that caused a problem. Words, body language, social customs, and stereotypes are just some of the things that may be involved. As students discuss the situation, they gain insight into the complexities of cultural differences and the importance of accurate cultural awareness and understanding.
7. Define articulation matrix and explain how Bloom's taxonomy can be used to assess the progress of an ESL student.
An articulation matrix is the set of relationships between activities and outcomes. It is a defined set of goals and the methods used to reach those goals. For example, in a graduation matrix, completing the required courses is the outcome and the lectures, homework assignments, projects, papers, tests and evaluations are the activities. Bloom's taxonomy, which is a hierarchical classification system, is an articulation matrix that outlines six levels of cognitive learning. At each step students reach a predictable level of mastery.
- KNOWLEDGE LEVEL: ability to define terms.
- COMPREHENSION LEVEL: finish problems and explain answers.
- APPLICATION LEVEL: recognize problems and use new methods to solve them.
- ANALYSIS LEVEL: ability to explain why the process works.
- SYNTHESIS LEVEL: can use the process or part of it in new ways.
- EVALUATION LEVEL: create different ways to solve problems and use designated criteria; select the best method to obtain the correct solution.
8. Define individual assessment and discuss its advantages and disadvantages
Individual assessments focus on the progress a student made during a defined period of time using a variety of activities (e.g., written assignments, oral presentations, class participation). It offers a broad, realistic view of the student's understanding. Evaluation standards are: self-referenced (based on previous progress); criterion-referenced (based on a defined school or district standard); and norm-referenced (based on the progress of groups of students the same age or grade level).
- ADVANTAGES: Individual assessments are easily understood by students and parents. Self-referenced standards provide feedback about the student's strengths and weaknesses. They can help motivate him to take more responsibility for his learning. Students sometimes set personal goals. Individual assessments help them measure their success. They provide teachers insight into special help the student might need.
- DISADVANTAGES: Individual assessment can create a competitive environment in which some students are unable to compete. It makes it difficult to evaluate students' ability to work with a team and judge their interaction with others. Individual assessments also require a great deal of time to complete fairly and accurately.
9. Discuss some general concepts on preparing tests for ESL students.
It is a good idea to use several types of questions when preparing tests for ESL students. This will offer them multiple ways to express their knowledge of the subject, expose them to a variety of testing formats, and encourage them to recall and respond to information in different ways. Matching and true/false questions are an excellent way to quickly assess how well students remember specific facts as well as their ability to memorize data. Multiple-choice and short-answer questions require a deeper knowledge of the subject and better reasoning and thinking skills. Short-answer questions also test the ability to use grammar and punctuation properly. These four testing options are reasonably quick and easy to grade. Open-response questions can be used to evaluate in-depth content knowledge, the use of critical thinking skills, and the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas through the written word. This option requires more time, effort and concentration to evaluate fairly. It is a more effective tool in some situations and courses than it is in others.
10. Discuss the importance of meeting with parents and some ways to share information with them.
Studies have shown that the more parents are involved in their children's education, the better the students learn and the fewer the behavior problems. Teachers are an integral part of the process. This is especially true with ESL students, whose parents are probably learning English and may be uncomfortable approaching the teacher because of cultural differences. It is the teacher's responsibility to make an effort to keep parents informed about the academic progress and social assimilation of their children by encouraging parents to come to school, ask questions and be a part of the educational experience of their children. Report cards are not designed to explain how well the student is progressing in intangible skills like critical thinking, reasoning ability, study habits, attitude, communication with adults and peers and other social and interactive development. Sending home progress reports is an effective way to keep parents abreast of changes. Meeting with parents regularly to discuss their child's particular progress and being available to answer questions are excellent ways to work together to ensure the ESL student benefits the most from available opportunities.
Last Updated: 03/13/2013