We only learn how to read once. This is true for all of us: monolingual, bilingual or multilingual. Once we figure out how literacy works, it is with us forever.
The best part about bilingual children learning to read is that once they figure it out in one language, they can transfer their literacy to their other language(s)! It is a feat that can be mastered in leaps and bounds in any of a number of languages once the process is underway.
As we know, the key to literacy is language. For those first “ah ha” moments of literacy to occur, bilingual children need to know what the words are that they are reading. Sounding out a word on the page is useless if in the end the student still doesn’t know what the word actually means. This is an important reason why bilingual children should be encouraged to work on their literacy skills in their stronger language, which, for most children, is the language spoken at home. Continue reading Bilingual Children: Benefits of Learning to Read in the Home Language
Picture this: A classroom bustling with students engaged in a variety of activities. On one side of the room, the teacher mingles with a group of students who are working on a collage. It is spread out across a wide table and students are discussing, in English and Spanish, where to place the different items. The teacher meanders by, a student asks for some advice in English, and a short discussion takes place.
A few minutes later the same teacher approaches a student sitting in a bean bag chair on the floor reading a book in English. The student asks the teacher, in Spanish, about the meaning of one of the words in the book, and together they talk about the word and its context in the sentence.
This easy movement between two languages is happening in many bilingual classrooms throughout the United States. Not only do classrooms such as these help non-English speaking students learn English, it also helps native English speakers learn a second language. Bilingual classrooms give students the opportunity to become truly bilingual. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Bilingual Classrooms
Flowers are beginning to blossom in and the talk of eggs, bunnies and little yellow chicks is underway. It must be springtime! Students are excited and invigorated by the changing season, so it is a perfect time of year to incorporate activities that match the energetic mood of your classroom.
Even though many of your students may not celebrate Easter, they are sure to notice the supermarket shelves lined with plastic eggs and chocolate bunnies. One activity from Easter that is sure to please all students is the search for hidden eggs. However, instead of calling it an Easter egg hunt, make it into a “scavenger hunt” or a “treasure hunt”! Have your students search for all kinds of things, big and small, to strengthen their language skills and help them get moving!
Here are some of our top tips to get your students moving and communicating inside and outside the classroom: Continue reading Springtime Language Learning Activities: Scavenger and Treasure Hunts
Children love music and singing. There is something magical about words being set to a melody that make children perk up and join in. Since most children’s songs consist of catchy beats and poetry-infused lyrics, it is a perfect combination of rhythm, rhyme and fun.
An added benefit to children’s songs is that they are often easy to learn. The short, repetitive sentences lend themselves to easy memorization and retention. What better way to learn words in context than to sing them out loud? Children don’t even realize how much their language skills are improving while joining in the singing fun.
Bilingual children, in particular, can benefit from singing songs in their second language. Even if most of the words are unfamiliar at first, mimicking the words in a song can help children practice producing sounds in the new language. Eventually the sounds give way to actual understanding as the song is practiced over and over again. It is a win-win situation all around.
Here are a few tips to think about when introducing your bilingual students to songs: Continue reading Using Music to Help Children Learn Languages
By Colleen Miller
Photo credit: vasta
Have you noticed that about halfway into the school year, new ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students, who once seemed excited and energized, seem to hit a wall? Students who once were bright-eyed and cheerful come to school looking listless and detached. More than just the mid-year doldrums, they may be in the crisis stage of the powerful phenomenon of culture shock.
What is culture shock?
In the 1950s, a diplomat named Karl Oberg first used the term “culture shock” to describe the difficulties both he and his fellow expatriates experienced as they adjusted to their new lives overseas. He suggested that people depend on cues given by their familiar groups to define who they are and to support their self-concept. Without these cues, people are prone to anxiety and frustration, which can lead to physical ailments. Continue reading How to Help Students Survive Culture Shock
Do you remember dreading group projects when you were in school? Inevitably, our teacher would pair us up with someone we hardly knew and begrudgingly we participated in the activity. Of course, by the end of the project we knew our classmate better than ever while having had a wonderful time.
For English Language Learners, cooperative learning activities have been shown to help improve academic performance as well as increase motivation, strengthen self-esteem, encourage student bonding and promote literacy skills. Of course, there is always the fear that a shy student won’t participate fully when paired with more outgoing students. To solve this, teachers can create more equitable groupings or create activities that encourage participation from each student individually. When paired well, a student who has stronger language skills can help a student with weaker language skills improve through cooperative learning activities.
Below are 5 ways teachers can make cooperative learning an integral part of their curriculum: Continue reading The Value of Cooperative Learning Activities for English Language Learners
As we all know, reading comprehension is essential in today’s world. It is necessary for mastering subjects in school, working at jobs, and deciphering written communications. Without it, we might be able to pronounce words on the page but would not be able to make sense of what the words mean when put together.
Reading comprehension demands that we create images and connections in our head based on the combination of words that we are reading. The more familiar we are with the words on the page and how they apply to what we have already learned or experienced in our lives, the better will be our comprehension.
For English Language Learners (ELLs), this is especially challenging. Most ELLs do not have a strong English vocabulary from which to pull, so it is important that they are presented with text that includes a lot of context. Pictures, short sentences, words that are repeated again and again can be especially helpful. If recognizing individual words is difficult, it will interfere with a student’s overall ability to comprehend what is being read.
Continue reading Bilingual Books to Boost Reading Comprehension
As schools open their doors each fall, students from all walks of life enter. Each has the opportunity to share with other students in the amazing experience of education. Wide-eyed and anxious, children slowly lower their guard and allow themselves to get comfortable with their teachers, fellow students and surroundings. The hope is that this experience will be filled with joy and comfort for each and every student.
For many English Language Learners (ELLs), school is a place of laughter, fun and expansion. Bit by bit language and cultural elements are learned, shared and savored. For other ELLs it is a place of fear, humiliation and intimidation.
Continue reading 8 Tips to Protect English Language Learners from Bullying in Your Classroom and School
It’s free, it’s fun and it’s in your language: bilingual story time!
Across the United States libraries offer story times in a myriad of languages based on the demands of the community: Spanish, Russian, Gujarati, French, Japanese… just to name a few! Children sit wide-eyed in awe as an adult reads to them in their own language: Amazing! Someone other than my parents can speak and read my language – how exciting!
The only problem with story time for many children is that it is often targeted toward preschoolers and takes place in the middle of the day. What about school-age children? Wouldn’t they benefit from a bilingual story time as well?
Bilingual children in particular would benefit greatly from a bilingual story time in their school. Not only would such a story time offer children who speak the same language the chance to gather, it would help with literacy, cultural appreciation and a sense of community. As we discussed in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, contrary to popular belief, reading out loud to children in their native languages does not negatively impact their English language literacy. In fact, it can help strengthen it in many ways.
Continue reading Bilingual Story Time at Your School Library
By guest author: Heather Leaman
Schools and families have acknowledged the importance of extending children’s learning beyond an understanding of our country to include an understanding of the world. While social studies is an ideal school subject to help children understand the world around them, many schools have significantly reduced their social studies instruction due in part to the influence of No Child Left Behind.
However, reducing class time for social studies instruction does not mean that teachers must eliminate instruction about our world for elementary school children. There are outstanding tools available for teaching social studies in tandem with instruction in reading, writing and math. In addition, there are many activities parents and families can engage in at home to supplement their children’s social studies education. Dual language books are an ideal example of a tool that can be used to introduce children to their world and to initiate deeper learning. Continue reading A Child’s Place in the World – PART II: Using dual language books to initiate social studies learning at home and at school