the learning environment safe • How to report an absence, and efforts to minimize tardiness • The importance of the child’s native language fluency, which will facilitate the learning of English
Urge Maintenance of the Native Language There is much evidence that a strong native language base is important, if not necessary, to the successful acquisition of academic English. As a staff developer and teacher coach, I often hear teachers say how important it is that the parents of English learners learn English.Yes, it is important, but for the parents’ success — not the child’s at this point.To illustrate this point, imagine moving to a country whose language you do not speak. Now, imagine your child’s school telling you to communicate in that language with your child. What level of that language might you be able, and fortunate, to speak? Maybe that of a three year old? If you’re lucky, perhaps you could achieve the equivalent of a five year old’s language level — about 5,000 words — within a year. But what about all the time lost using your rich native language experience to communicate with your child? So much is communicated through language — our culture, our thinking, even our humor.To communicate, either directly or indirectly, that a student’s home language is less important than English is at some level wounding to his or her sense of self. As educators, we can certainly reason that all languages are equally valuable; however, this is not the message that immigrants and refugees have been sent throughout the years in U.S. schools with laws that regulate English as the only “acceptable” language in which to learn. Sensitivity to the impact that language regulation has on one’s identity becomes a sociocultural imperative. Additionally, as an educator, it is much easier to hang English words on the ‘hooks’ that native language vocabulary provides. If I’m teaching, for example, about the concept of communities, it will be much easier if a child knows the word for ‘neighbor’ in his or her first language than to explain the concept of “the person who lives next door or near to you.” There is a higher chance of not being understood because the words in the definition are often also unknown.
Support Your Teachers by Providing In-service Opportunities in Methods for Teaching English Learners Teaching English learners well is challenging, yet rewarding, work. With ELs in the class, it is no longer possible to teach just using language — i.e.“Name three causes of environmental pollution,” with no pictures, gesturing, nor building of background) — which is often standard practice in the mainstream classroom. There are certain teacher behaviors and techniques that work very well with English learners, and which have proven to be effective for the language and content acquisition necessary for student success. While some of these seem obvious, as a teacher coach and visitor in hundreds of English learner classrooms, I am often surprised that these behaviors are not consistently present.These behaviors include, but are see ENGLISH LEARNERS page 54 www.seenmagazine.us
At Educational Training Specialists, we love teachers. We ARE teachers. We know that their time is valuable. That’s why we offer dynamic teacher training that imparts immediately applicable information and strategies in: • Teaching English Learners • Common Core Literacy • Common Core Math • Differentiated Instruction • Classroom Management, and much more. Our training sessions are interactive, grounded in research, and thoughtfully prepared to help teachers reach students in all subgroups. Contact us today at 800-279-7135 to inquire about how Educational Training Specialists can assist the teachers in your school or district with raising student achievement.
http://training4teachers.com firstname.lastname@example.org SouthEast Education Network FALL 2013
Southeast Education Network issue 15.2