What a perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness! Having family and friends to share our lives with, food on the table, clean water to drink and a roof over our heads is something that adults and children alike can take time to reflect on during this holiday season.
In bilingual classrooms, the topic of thankfulness can involve language learning as well as cultural sharing. Not only do we say “thank you” with different words, the way we show our appreciation differs from culture to culture as well. What a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about cultures around the world this week!
Here 5 activities to help your students focus on thankfulness during this holiday season: Continue reading Teaching Thankfulness in Bilingual Classrooms
Starting school for the first time can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for a young bilingual child. Aside from possible language barriers, cultural differences may often play a role. Things that are done in the classroom often do not match what a child is used to at home and this can make a bilingual child feel especially uncomfortable and insecure.
It is important to give bilingual children a lot of time to get used to the classroom setting. Although this is true for all children coming to school for the first time, for bilingual children there are some unique elements which can help them transition more successfully.
Below are tips to make the transition go more smoothly for bilingual students in your classroom:
Continue reading Bilingual Children and the First Days of School
The start of the school year is just around the corner. Where did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday that we were watching our students head out the schoolhouse doors. Before we know it, they will be rushing back through those doors again.
With the coming school year so close, it is important that teachers start thinking ahead to the needs of their bilingual students. Language activities, music, bilingual books and writing materials are just a few examples of resources to have on hand. Are you prepared?
Here are a few questions to answer in preparation for the coming school year:
Continue reading Bilingual Students: Preparing for the Coming School Year
Reading out loud is one of the most wonderful ways we can help our children learn language(s). It helps to build vocabulary (in many languages) and helps children fall in love with literature and the written word.
The more we can make storytime a great experience for children, the more they will look forward to reading on their own down the road.
It doesn’t take a lot to make storytime a child’s favorite time of day. However, reminding ourselves of some key elements can help make it even better.
Here are some ideas for how to make your storytime the highlight of every child’s day:
Continue reading Bilingual Children: Make Storytime Their Favorite Time of the Day
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