Organizing Instruction for Transfer

To reap the potential benefits of interdependence, instruction must focus on language and literacy development in both languages, and indeed focus directly on explicitly teaching for transfer. (August, Calderón & Carlo, 2002) When cross-linguistic transfer is explicitly taught, students can avail themselves of concepts and skills already known in one language to learn the other.

In the context of explicit skill transfer instruction, one language becomes the instructional language while the target language becomes the content of the instruction.

The instructional language is used to:

  • review known concepts and key academic vocabulary,
  • explain the similarities or differences between one language and the other, and
  • negotiate meaning.

The target language is the content of the lesson and it is used to:

  • reintroduce the concept and academic vocabulary,
  • demonstrate how the selected features are same or different, and
  • engage in collaborative or independent practice.

Teachers use graphic organizers, posters, visuals, color-coding, charts, sentence strips, word cards, and other manipulatives to enhance the teaching and learning experience.