Category Archives: Schools

Educational Resources for Student Immigrants, Refugees

bilingual resources for student immigrants, refugeesThe number of immigrant and refugee children has increased over the past decade, and is now the fastest-growing segment in the US youth population. These students face many challenges when adapting to a new life in the US: culture shock, making friends, and learning a new language, just to name a few.  All too often, schools lack the resources to research the best ways to help these students, and miss out on methods developed by other districts that have faced similar issues. Below are some online resources that can help educators trying to accommodate an increasingly diverse student population.

Refugee or Immigrant?

An immigrant is “someone who chooses to resettle to another country.” For example, a foreign national who is issued a visa to live and work permanently in the US via a legal process to attain citizenship.

A refugee is “someone who has been forced to flee his or her home country.” Refugees apply for asylum in the US, and must prove that they will be injured if they return to their home country due to their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion.

How to Prepare Your Classroom

New York’s Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance offers a straightforward guide with tips to prepare your classroom for new immigrant and refugee students. The tips include discussing the advantages of having students from around the world in the classroom, showing on a map where the students are from, and how far they have traveled, and the importance of watching out for signals that newcomers are being bullied, since many refugee students won’t voluntary speak up about these issues.

The US Department of Education has a website dedicated to “Educational Resources for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylees and other New Americans.” There, you can find the latest news and guides that focus on the importance of integrating newcomers into the classroom community. You can also find resources like a toolkit for school districts serving English language learners, and services for unaccompanied children.

Welcome & Orient Newcomers

To help smooth the transition for newcomers arriving at a new school, create a welcome process for teachers, administrators and students. Include a school ambassador program, where newcomers are paired with a “buddy” who is a trained peer, and try to integrate information about the new student’s culture and country into your classroom routines. Or, find appropriate activities to keep the new student engaged in learning while their English skills are still developing.

Reach out to Parents

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools offers a detailed guide that focuses on the importance of successfully engaging the parents of immigrant and refugee students. It gives many ways to partner with those families, and reminds us that “refugee parents resettled here for their children. They are fully invested in their children’s future.” Some tips include having regular meetings with families that include bilingual support, food and childcare.

All children go through a transition period when first entering school. Immigrant and refugee children, in particular, need clear and dedicated support from their schools. By doing this right from the beginning, the year is sure to progress more smoothly and comfortably for everyone in the classroom.

 

“I <3 2 read” by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/dRpekF

This blog post is linked with the monthly iTeachBilinguals linkup. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!

PENpal Audio Recorder Pen: Tap & Listen to Bilingual Books & Recordable Labels

PENpal Audio Voice Recorder Pen Bilingual Childrens Books and LabelsLanguage Lizard is proud to announce the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen The pen that’s bringing sound to paper!

What is PENpal?

An award-winning digital audio “pen” that promotes reading, speaking and listening for a diverse student population.  PENpal supports dIfferentiated instruction and inclusiveness.

  • Listen to content in many languages by simply touching the pen to interactive books, charts, labels and other learning resources.  
  • Record your own narrative, music or sound effects with Recordable Labels.

What can you do with PENpal and Recordable Labels?

  • Download hundreds of pre-recorded sound files (for free) to turn many of our bilingual picture books into “talking books.”  
  • Animate any object with sound.
  • Allow students to record, save, and playback their own recordings.
  • Customize resources for children with special needs.
  • Record instructions for students, role play, story tell.
  • Send home with parents to support home literacy partnerships.
  • The possibilities are endless!

Who is it for?

The PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with our multilingual resources, supports reading, writing, speaking and listening for:

  • English Language Learners
  • New arrivals from foreign countries
  • Foreign language learners
  • Learners with special needs
  • Any student in need of an inclusive resource that develops literacy skills

PENpal is interactive, enjoyable and effective!

Record your own voice with Recordable Labels

  • Animate any object with sound
  • Record language, music, messages or sound effects
  • Change recordings any time
  • Record instructions for students, role play, story tell
  • Allow students to record, save, and playback their own recordings

PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets

Exclusive PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets in many languages are an amazing way to support Dual Language Learners! Language Lizard offers an extensive selection of literacy sets that include the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen along with our award-winning bilingual “talking books”.
PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets are available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hindi, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more! Books with sound files are available in about 40 languages.

STARTER SETS in your choice of language

  • PENpal Audio Recorder Pen
  • 4 bilingual books in your choice of language
  • A sample set of Recordable Stickers
  • A beautifully illustrated picture dictionary (optional)
  • USB charger, 4GB SD card and rechargeable batteries

ENHANCED SETS with 10 bilingual books and everything included in the starter sets!

SUPER SETS with 20 bilingual books! (available in limited languages)

Other Great PENpal Products

  • Special Literacy & Phonics Sets
  • Dictionary & PENpal Sets
  • Multilingual Key Phrases Chart
  • Various Charts & Posters to Support Language Acquisition
  • Phonetic Magnets
  • Student & Teacher Recordable Labels
  • Oral Progress Reading Charts for Student Assessment

See our full range of PENpal products and exclusive sets

Get comprehensive PENpal FAQs, videos and support

10 Ways Mainstream Teachers Can Accommodate English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Classroom

Bilingual ELL students in mainstream classroomTeachers and parents of bilingual children face many challenges. Whether it’s creating a sense of community in a diverse classroom, or finding creative ways to use multicultural resources, helping a student learn a new language requires a multi-faceted approach.

Because of a nationwide shortage of bilingual teachers, many ELL students are placed in mainstream classrooms with limited bilingual assistance. Those students can be successful when given the necessary support. The 10 tips and strategies below can help mainstream teachers meet the needs of their diverse classrooms.

Classroom Instruction

ELL students have more difficulty processing spoken language, so present information in a variety of ways: through pictures, videos or manipulatives. 

Simplify the language, not the content. Avoid using idioms, slang, and sarcasm. Speak slowly, clearly, and use gestures.

Pair ELL students with a buddy, and build in more group work to increase student engagement and promote peer interaction.

Give ELL students preferential seating close to the front of the classroom, with other students who are inviting and like to participate.

Classroom & Homework Assignments

Use ESL materials, or allow ESL students to have a bilingual dictionary. Multilingual resources can enhance and support core standards.

Allow students to bring multilingual and multicultural books home. It promotes literacy at home and enhances parental involvement, both of which improve school success.

Stress the importance of finding the key words in assignments by highlighting or bolding them.

Testing

Minimize the number of answer choices on tests and quizzes. Don’t give any true/false questions or trick questions.

Allow students to answer questions orally, in writing, or with a picture where appropriate.

When possible, grade responses based on content, not spelling or grammar.

With a little patience, kindness and determination, you can help your ELL students successfully integrate into your classroom and support their language development.

 

 “Back to School” by Phil Roeder via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/agLDmm


5 Ways to a Bilingual/ Multicultural Holiday Season

diwali multicultural bilingual holiday

If you feel like the school year is speeding by, you’re right: the holiday season is already upon us. There’s still plenty of time to work on that Christmas list. You may already be planning your big meal for Thanksgiving Day. Or, you may find yourself wondering how to get through another stressful holiday season with your sanity intact.

If you find this year’s holiday spirit is more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho, try adding a multicultural and bilingual twist to your classroom and family festivities. It will liven things up and refresh that holiday spirit.

Highlight the Spirit of Giving Thanks

hands holding words give thanks

The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, which makes this is the perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness, both at home and in the classroom. In bilingual classrooms, the topic of thankfulness can involve language learning (learning to say “thanks” in many languages) and also cultural sharing (how different cultures show their appreciation).

Learn About a New Holiday

Ramadan decorations multicultural bilingual

When you learn about holidays from other cultures, you’re learning about new religions, customs and languages.  Kids also gain an appreciation for diversity when they see how other holidays are different and similar to the ones they celebrate.

Language Lizard offers a free, standards-based lesson plan that explores traditions from many different religions and cultures, including Christianity, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. Kids will also love stories about children celebrating Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” and Chinese New Year.

Arts & Crafts from Around the World

mid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your holidays with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess, and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own.

Celebrate with Holiday Foods from Other Cultures

International diversity foods pizza heart shape

Your little ones are home for winter break, perhaps stuck inside because of bad weather. Or you have out-of-town guests visiting, and many meals to plan. Don’t let holiday stress get you down! Take a culinary journey by trying out these winter holiday dishes from all around the world. Use it as a creative potluck theme, and everyone can join in the fun!

Engaging Bilingual Students

kid reading bilingual book

It’s easier to get kids to engage in conversation when they are inspired and excited about the topic. This is particularly true for bilingual students, especially if they are still mastering the English language. What better time to get your bilingual students talking with you and one another? Students’ minds are full of happy memories from holidays past, and they will want to share how their families celebrate at home. Check out our tips to help your students direct their holiday excitement into fun language opportunities.

 

“Diwali” by siddhu2020 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/5LYfYm

Title III Grants: Funding for English Language Learners / LEP Students

bilingual education Title III grantIn a previous blog post, we provided a thorough guide to many different types of grants and funding for bilingual classrooms. In this post, we’ll take a look at one type of grant in particular: Title III.

What is Title III Funding?

Title III is a two-part, $700 million federal program with a goal of improving education. Part A is dedicated to students who are immigrants or Limited English Proficient (LEP). Its primary purpose is to make sure these students become proficient in English and, at the same time, meet the academic achievement standards that other students are expected to meet. Title III funds must be used for language instruction educational programs.

How does the U.S. Department of Education award Title III Funding?

States receive Title III grants according to census data. The state, in turn, divides the funding into subgrants that are made available to Local Education Agencies within each state: school districts, county offices of education, and direct-funded charter schools. Private schools are not eligible for Title III funding, although there is a way for LEP students who attend private schools to participate in Title III-funded programs. Funds not used in one year can be carried over to the next. Any funds not used by the end of the second school year will be returned to the US Department of Education.

Use of Title III Funds

Generally speaking, funds must be used to provide high-quality instruction in language programs that increase English proficiency and academic achievement in core subjects. Programs must include professional development for teachers, administrators and principals, as well as parent outreach programs. Funds can be used for curricular materials, classroom supplies and software to support LEP / immigrant students.

There are many rules about what programs and activities can be funded with a Title III subgrant.  A full list of authorized and required use of funds can be found here. You can read about requirements for subjects like “supplement” vs. “supplant” activities, alternative education programs, special education programs, and parental notification. This New Jersey Department of Education document is also helpful as it clearly lays out out allowable uses for Title III LEP funds and Title III Immigrant funds.

The recipients of each subgrant are held accountable each year, and students must meet annual English language development objectives. Annual achievement objectives must be met in the form of test scores that demonstrate students are making progress toward English proficiency. There are some Local Education Agencies that decline the use of Title III subgrants because they don’t want to take part in the rigor of its required testing. Subgrant recipients must reapply for Title III funds each year through a process involving submission of various reports, plans and evaluation requirements.

For additional support and information, visit Language Lizard’s Funding & Grants page

“Pictures of Money” by Money via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/s68a4i

Language Lizard’s Biggest Giveaway Ever! $300 in Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual children's books and language lizardOctober is full of bilingual reading fun! In honor of two exciting events – Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month AND Language Lizard’s 10th Anniversary – we are proud to announce our biggest giveaway ever!

Enter to Win $300 in Bilingual Books from Language Lizard!

Language Lizard will send one lucky winner a $300 Language Lizard gift certificate that can be used to purchase any of the bilingual / multilingual products available on the Language Lizard website.

Books are available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English-only, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Karen (Sgaw), Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Nepali, Norwegian, Panjabi, Pashto, Patois, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yoruba.

How to Enter – Bilingual Book Giveaway

To enter the contest, simply fill out and submit the Language Lizard Giveaway Entry Form before October 31, 2015.  Every entry form submission counts as one entry “point.”  Individuals can receive additional entry points by taking the following actions (one point per action taken):

The maximum number of entry points one can receive is 5 (one for the form submission and one each for the actions above). 

Enter the giveaway, and find the full terms and conditions, here.
Browse all the language learning materials the winner can choose from by visiting www.LanguageLizard.com.

October is Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month

children reading bilingual bookCelebrating the Bilingual Child Month was established in 2006 to recognize the many children that speak two or more languages and understand multiple cultures. This is a time to recognize their achievements, encourage continued language learning, and explore the differences and similarities of diverse languages and cultures with all students. These efforts will help connect our communities and improve global relations.

For more information about Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month and tips on how you can celebrate this special month in your classroom, check out our blog post.

Good luck and happy reading!

Back-to-School Discounts – Bring Dual Language Books to Your Students!

 

children's bilingual dual language booksWe hope your school year is off to a great start! To help you bring dual language books to your classroom and home, Language Lizard is offering a special Back-to-School Discount!

Until September 30, 2015, choose from one of the following:

Get $10 off your order of $100! Just use coupon code BackToSchool2015 during checkout.

Or choose 5% off our popular bilingual book sets! Always a great value, our bilingual book sets are offered in 30 languages and include many of our most popular titles. Use coupon code BookSet2015 during checkout.

Happy reading!

Creating Community in Your Classroom

Teamwork and team spirit - Hands piled on top of one another .It’s the start of a new school year, and your classroom fills with a brand new kaleidoscope of personalities. You may find yourself wondering how to help an eclectic group of kids connect with each other. How do you bring your class together as a community, and jump start the conversation and collaboration? You want to create a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment for all children – an especially challenging task when they come from diverse backgrounds.

Celebrate Individuality

individuality purple flower in white flower field

Although it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to create a sense of community is by celebrating individuality. Kids love to see themselves reflected in the classroom.  As discussed in our recent post about understanding and appreciating cultural differences in the classroom, when kids contrast and compare family holidays and traditions without judgment, respect and acceptance begins. Reading world folk tales and fables is a great way to explore new traditions from various cultures.

The Concept of Community

classroom community hands together teamwork multicultural bilingual language

You may want to begin by exploring the concept of a community with your class. Yes, it’s a group of people who share something in common, but there are so many less obvious aspects, particularly in a classroom setting. Language Lizard offers a free standards-based lesson plan that teaches students all about the concept of community: What is it, why is it important to have one, and what makes a community stronger?

Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year and the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel, talks about the importance of creating “classroom chemistry” in a blog article, which she describes as the moment when a “certain group of students auspiciously find each other in a classroom.” She discusses 14 ways to create it with your students, and the important role that good chemistry plays in keeping students engaged in the classroom. For another in-depth look at the importance of building a classroom community, check out The Center for the Collaborative Classroom’s Child Development Project, which offers more activity ideas and supporting research.

Predictable, Nurturing Classroom Environment

A classroom that is not just functional, but also comfortable and comforting, encourages learning. Things like lighting, temperature, desk spacing, and a comfy reading corner are physically comforting. A predictable daily routine is emotionally comforting, as are clearly defined rules for classroom behavior. This article from Edutopia discusses how the use of daily trust-building activities can create a support system in your classroom.

What are some ways you create an outstanding community in your classroom? Comment below and share your experiences!

“Teamwork and team spirit” by 드림포유 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/o4ZHuD

“Individuality” by Joey Gannon via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/HGRhB

“Team.” by Dawn (Willis) Manser via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6oaunE

Great Giveaways for Back-to-School

back to school giveaway from iTeachBilinguals

If you’re getting ready to head back to school, we have two great giveaways for you!

First, you should check out iTeachBilinguals and their Back-to-School Giveaway. You can enter now through August 8, 2015 by following this link. The grand prize winner will receive an iPad Air 2! A winner will be announced August 9, 2015.

Another great giveaway for language learners is Language Lizard’s Cookbook & Bilingual Book Giveaway. You can win a copy of Room to Read’s Recipes Worth Reading cookbook AND a surprise bilingual book in English and the language of your choice! It’s easy to enter, no purchase necessary. A winner will be chosen September 16, 2015.

Happy reading, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Understanding & Appreciating Cultural Differences – Tips and Free Lesson Plan

multicultural classroomEvery classroom is a different potpourri of personalities and abilities that will mix, mesh or sometimes clash. Teachers want to effectively engage every one of their students, and parents want to ensure their kids will be both accepting and accepted.

Preparing for Your Multicultural & Bilingual Classroom

How can we make our multicultural classrooms welcoming to all students, and instill an appreciation for diversity in our kids? In a previous post, we looked at different multicultural resources that can be woven right into existing lesson plans, and the many benefits they bring to all students. In other posts, we offered a checklist of essential items and tips to help teachers prepare their classrooms for bilingual students.

Culturally Responsive Instruction

In his blog post, author and educator Matthew Lynch discusses culturally responsive instruction in depth. Its aim is “to teach students that differences in viewpoint and culture are to be cherished and appreciated rather than judged and feared.” The primary goal is to demonstrate that all people, regardless how different they may appear on the surface, have so much in common and that every person and culture deserves respect. Lynch discusses the many ways teachers can promote an environment of respect for cultural diversity, in particular the importance of studying multicultural role models in the classroom.

Free Lesson Plan: Understanding & Appreciating Cultural Differences

classroom desk multicultural classroom

Teachers are always looking for new ways to bring more multicultural education to the classroom, while meeting Common Core Standards. As part of a project with student teachers in the Elementary Education Teacher Preparation program at West Chester University, the Language Lizard site offers free, creative units of instruction for use in grades K-5. The lesson plan entitled “Understanding and Appreciating Cultural Differences” helps students appreciate how people are different and similar, not just within the classroom, but around the world. They will learn about diverse languages, cultures and traditions in the US and in other countries. This unit of instruction is easily aligned with state and national standards in Social Studies and Language Arts. The main books used in these lessons include: That’s My Mum, Floppy, and Floppy’s Friends written in: Gujarati, Portuguese, Turkish and English. Each of these titles is available in many other languages that can be substituted for, or used in addition to, the dual languages presented here.

Parents and teachers alike are encouraged to download our free multicultural lesson plans to utilize at home and in the classroom. Each unit indicates which books are included, the target grade level(s), the primary languages, and the key topics covered. The units can be implemented as designed or adapted to meet the needs of a particular student body or grade level. Languages introduced in the lessons can be changed to better reflect their own diverse households and communities.

By preparing ahead of time, you will ensure this year will progress more smoothly and comfortably for you and your unique and diverse classroom.

What challenges have you faced in your multicultural classroom, and what solutions have worked for you? Comment below and share your experiences!

“The Sign Says” by Ryan via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/99jT3G

“2012-226 My New Teacher Desk” by Denise Krebs via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/cRiZjJ

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