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SEALL : : Scaffolding Experiences for Authentic Language Learning

Abstract

To uncover whether English fluency can be strengthened and awareness of American and native culture increased, I developed the Scaffolding Experiences for Authentic Language Learning (SEALL) curriculum. The design project responded to the need for more authentic and autonomous curricular approaches in local and national EFL programs. The project attempted to capitalize on often under- utilized cultural funds of knowledge common to EFL settings. SEALL relies on a mutually beneficial learning environment that scaffolds authentic interactions between English as an Associate Language students and native English speakers. SEALL structures choice for students into the topics and interactions they have with native speakers while also giving students opportunity to evaluate intended learning goals and critically reflect about experiences with native speakers. Throughout the course, students share about their past experiences with each other and native speakers, ultimately becoming ethnographers learning from and studying cultural informants. The SEALL curriculum was implemented in a private, intensive language school in San Diego and was used during a six-week EAL course taken by adult international students from 10 different countries. The results suggest that students were able to increase their English fluency by interacting and conversing regularly with native speakers. In addition, students were able to a gain a broader awareness of American culture by completing structured activities with American peers. By examining themselves, students also developed a heightened understanding of their own beliefs concerning their native cultures and countries

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