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Elementary ELL

Elementary Language Learning 

By Ms. Tracy

Greetings SIS Community!  It is my pleasure to introduce myself as one of the many teachers that are here to support your child’s learning and educational experience.  With so many fantastic things going on in each grade, it is hard to narrow it down! Although this is just a glimpse of how we are encouraging your child’s growth, please know each and every lesson is carefully planned and thought out to enhance and create an authentic understanding for all children. 

One way in which we are able to successfully support your student’s growth is through co-teaching.  This means that the support teacher, in this case myself, comes into the class and works with the classroom teacher and assistant to co-plan and deliver lessons that benefit all students. For example, in Grade One we have established a routine where students have the opportunity to learn and explore ideas in small groups which are beneficial and cater to each student.

In Grade 2 we are beginning our UOI on Sharing the Planet.  We created an activity for students to see how people in different parts of the world access water.  The hands on practical application used measuring distance to get to the water, analyzing the quality of water and develop empathy based on how people access to water. 

In Third and Fourth grades we have been diving deeper into text features of nonfiction books for the Units of Inquiry.  The text features will support the research skills needed to find information on a specific topic. 

In Grade 5, it has been a joy to help facilitate the assembly performance closing out the unit on How We Organize Ourselves!  Prior to rehearsal, students spent time analyzing at different countries’ governments and comparing and contrasting them to other forms of governments.  Then they presented their summary of the different types of governments on stage. 

In my first few months as the Elementary English Support, I am thrilled to be a part of each classroom.  I am pleased to see my relationships with students grow as they get to know me. We are off to a great start this year by enhancing lessons to support language learning in all facets of study. 

Secondary ELL

Honoring the First language

By Ms. Kim

Do you think learning a language is easy? How long did it take you to learn your first language? Were you able to talk as soon as you were born? If so, WOW!! 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the majority of us do not start speaking simple, intelligent phrases until we are about 2 years of age. If that is the case, then is it reasonable to expect students to learn a new language in less time? No, it isn’t.  Each child learns a language at his or her own speed. So you ask, what can increase a student’s comprehensibility and fluency in the target language? 

One answer is time. Simply time. Since we cannot put more time into the day, it is 24 hours, that is it, not anymore, not any less. Just 24 hours. SO what can we do? As a parent and as a teacher, one way to improve a students’ language acquisition is by honoring their first language. 

What does this mean?

It means we, as teachers and parents of a second language learner, need to allow the student to use his first language as a resource. We want a child to be bilingual, we do not want to take away their first language, which results in subtractive bilingualism. If we allow students to use their first language as a scaffold – a learning tool – we are supporting the students by making content comprehensible as well as acknowledging the importance of their native language. Research has shown that the more a child knows in his first language, the more effectively he can acquire his second language.  For example, a student who is familiar with concepts and literacy skills in her first language will be able to transfer that knowledge to her second language, which will support her in her academic success.

As teachers, we understand the importance of the first language and its strategic use in our lessons. The first language is not a hindrance, it is a tool. For example, we sometimes translate material into the student’s mother tongue, provide bi-lingual word banks or word walls, and provide translated text when possible. As teachers, our goal is to support all the students in our classroom, one way we support the English Language Learners in our classes is by honoring the use of their mother tongue.

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