Application for ELLs - Generating and Testing Hypotheses

The following sections are summarized from Classroom Instruction that Works with English Language Learners; Hill & Flynn; Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; 2006; pp. 96-99

Generating and Testing Hypotheses and English Language Learners:

  • Hypothesis generation and testing can be approached in an inductive or deductive manner. When ELLs know how to apply the rules of English when writing, they are using deduction; when they read a passage and figure out the rules of the English language, they are using inductive reasoning.
  • Teachers must encourage students to explain their hypotheses and conclusions. Having students explain their hypotheses and conclusions presents an excellent opportunity for ELLs to develop oral and academic language. When students are explaining hypotheses and conclusions, it is important to find time to facilitate English language development using the Word-MES formula.

Adapting the Generation and Testing of Hypotheses to the Stages of Language Acquisition:

  • Preproduction: Students will need help with the vocabulary (word selection) involved in an explanation. By attaching pictures to key vocabulary and concepts, they will be able to point to items in the description.
  • Early Production: You can help students by modeling correct English when paraphrasing what students have said.
  • Speech Emergence: Students can benefit from having their language expanded.
  • Intermediate and Advanced Fluency: Students need language stimulation that will help them develop academic language. You can accomplish this by helping them sound like a book. Rephrase what they may have said and then add: "This is how the author of a book might say that."

Classroom Recommendations:

  • Teachers should use a variety of tasks that emphasize generating and testing hypotheses, and they should require students to verbalize their hypotheses and conclusions. Tasks for generating and testing hypotheses include complex reasoning processes such as decision making, problem solving, invention, experimental inquiry, historical investigation, and systems analysis.
  • ELLs can participate in generating and testing hypotheses in a mainstream classroom, but the language complexity must be reduced.

Preproduction students can be assigned to parts of the process that require hands-on activity. They should also be noting new vocabulary in notebooks and creating visuals to associate with the words.

Early Production students will do well with manipulatives and opportunities that allow them to practice the vocabulary of the lesson.

Speech Emergence students will understand the task at hand and will be able to communicate in short sentences.

Intermediate and Advanced Fluency students will be participating at close to the same level as English-dominant students.