As we mentioned in our previous post, Bilingual Students: Using Holiday Celebrations to Promote Language Development in Multicultural Classrooms, bilingual students often have a lot to say right after they return from their winter holidays. They are eager to share activities that they engaged in with family and friends and to talk about the gifts that they may have received. However, once the excitement of returning back to school has worn off, it can be more challenging to get bilingual students talking.
A wonderful way to encourage bilingual students to share information and thoughts is to have them narrate about familiar topics. The more a student knows about a topic, the more inclined he or she is to want to share information about it.
The key is finding topics that are of interest to each student, which is not an easy task for a busy teacher with many students in class. One way to go about this is to give your students opportunities to talk about things with which they are intimately familiar: Favorite stories, preferred activities and beloved toys can get even the quietest bilingual student narrating in detail.
Another approach is to ask bilingual students to tell you and the other students about favorite stories, books or chapters that they read (or had read to them). The idea is not to require the student to remember key elements from the story; rather, the goal is to simply get the student talking!
Another benefit of narration is that students will remember things so much better than when they are passively listening. As soon as a student starts to narrate about something, images are created in their minds that will stick around for a much longer time and have more impact.
Here are some tips on having bilingual students narrate:
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