Today, teachers need to provide welcoming and inclusive educational environments for their diverse student populations. By building culturally responsive classrooms, all students develop a greater understanding of, and respect for, diverse cultures, enhancing community in the classroom. A new book helps educators embrace multiculturalism in their classrooms with lesson plans, games, and fun diversity activities.Continue reading Celebrate Diversity in the Classroom with Lessons & Activities in New Teacher’s Manual
In the spirit of Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month, we’re introducing a great classroom tool to support world language learners. There’s also a special discount just for Language Lizard newsletter subscribers!Continue reading Popular Language Learning Tool for Classrooms
You may be a teacher, on the brink of a brand new school year. Or a parent, with kids preparing to head into a new classroom. Here are some of our favorite back-to-school tips and resources to get the school year off to a great start.Continue reading 5 Back to School Tips – Bilingual & Multicultural Classrooms
We have partnered up with our friends at West Chester University to bring you 4 new multicultural lesson plans that focus on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. Access these free lesson plans, and many more, to help bring more multicultural learning to your classroom. (Special thanks to Seán Gleasure for his assistance on the lesson plans.)Continue reading 4 New (Free!) Lesson Plans – Social & Emotional Learning
We’ve teamed up with our friends at West Chester University to bring you two new lesson plans that bring multicultural education to your classroom! Download the free lesson plans and adapt them to the unique needs of your classroom. Homeschooling parents, use the activities to build literacy skills and explore new languages and cultures with your kids! Continue reading 2 New (Free!) Multicultural Lesson Plans
Have you thought about hosting a Parents Night event just for your bilingual families? It’s a great opportunity to create a personal connection with parents who have a unique set of concerns, as well as a valuable skill set to bring to your classroom. Continue reading Parents Night for Bilingual ELL Families
It may be hard to believe, but summer is coming to an end. Beach days and family barbecues will soon be behind us. You find your mind is full of lesson plans and an incoming class of new faces. As you’re organizing shelves and deciding on the optimal classroom layout, remember to consider the needs of your bilingual students. Now is the perfect time to create a welcoming classroom that reflects acceptance and diversity right from the start. Continue reading Preparing Your Classroom for Bilingual Students
by guest blogger Karen Nemeth EdM
Cognates are pairs of words that sound alike and have the same meaning in two different languages. They are useful first steps in learning a new language.
How Do Cognates Work?
In English we say “elephant” and in Spanish we say “elefante.” English and Spanish speakers can easily make the connection between these cognates to learn and remember the animal’s name. In English, we say “frog” but in Spanish we say “rana.” Frog and rana are not cognates, and the lack of connection means learners will find those words harder to use and remember. We know that people need to use their new language to really learn it. Cognates make it possible for language learners at any age to use their new words right away. By starting with the cognate words, a learner can build their vocabulary and gain the confidence to add more words in their new language.
Find Cognates in Your Target Language
Spanish and English share hundreds of cognates and have borrowed from each other for centuries. There are also many cognates that connect German to English, such as “mouse” and “maus”. Other languages, like Chinese and Arabic, have fewer cognates with English words. Lists of cognate words in different languages can be found online. I created a resource for Spanish-English cognates in preschool and kindergarten called Language Castle Cognate Guide. It has user-friendly lists of simple cognates in the different educational domains to support early learning. Other cognate resources can be found at colorincolorado.org. Bilingual children’s books, or matching books in two or more languages, can also be great resources to find vocabulary connections.
Learning Activities Using Cognates
Research shows that teachers and families can help children learn a new language successfully when they use cognates to explain the meanings of words in conversations and stories. Look for examples of cognates to support the language learners you work with. Use the pairs of words to help children understand the characters, stories and facts in books. Plan activities around the cognates you have found. Add cognates to familiar songs. Use cognates in puppet shows or pretend play to give children more opportunities to practice and use the words. Highlight cognates on word walls or classroom dictionaries. Plan science and math lessons that use cognates to strengthen children’s comprehension. Building connections through cognates is a sure path to success.
Read more about what experts are saying about the importance of using cognates to build second language learning:
August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C. and Snow, C. (2005) The Critical Role of Vocabulary Development for English Language Learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20: 50–57
Collins, M.F. (2010) ELL preschoolers’ English vocabulary acquisition from storybook reading, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(1), 84-97
Gillanders, C. & Castro, D.C. (2011) Storybook reading for young dual language learners, Young Children, January 2011, 91-95
Lugo-Neris, M.J., Jackson, C.W., Goldstein, H (2008) Facilitating Vocabulary Acquisition of Young English Language Learners, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 314-327
Pérez, A.M., Peña, E.D., & Bedore, L.M. (2010) Cognates facilitate young Spanish-English bilinguals’ test performance, Early Childhood Services, 4(1), 55-67
Wallace, Christopher, (2007) Vocabulary: The Key to Teaching English Language Learners to Read, Reading Improvement, 44.4 , 189-193
Be sure to check out languagecastle.com, Karen Nemeth’s website that offers a wealth of resources for anyone who teaches young children who speak different languages.
This blog post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!
We’re excited to share new, free multicultural lesson plans you can use to celebrate two fun upcoming holidays:
Holi “Festival of Colors” (March 13, 2017)
Holi [pronounced houli], also known as the Festival of Colors, is a popular springtime festival celebrated in many parts of South Asia and around the world. This festival celebrates the coming of spring and the end of winter. It is also a day to give thanks for a good harvest. It’s a time to forgive and forget, be with your friends and your family, and have a whole lot of fun.
The Holi Festival lasts two days. The first night, there’s a big bonfire that everyone gathers around. The next day is when all the fun begins! Ranwali Holi—as day 2 is called—is the day of colors. People, old and young, friends and strangers, carry spritzers and balloons filled with colored water, and they spray each other until everyone is multi‐colored and beautiful.
World Folktales and Fables Week (March 19-25, 2017)
World Folktales and Fables Week is dedicated to encouraging children and adults to explore the lessons and cultural background of folktales, fables, myths and legends from around the world.
Reading world folktales and fables is not only a wonderful way to entertain and bond with children, it is also an effective way to educate them. The stories in classic folklore offer both social lessons as well as an opportunity to teach about cultures and languages. Be sure to enjoy a good folktale in your classroom or home!
Celebrate with Free Lesson Plans & Discount
It’s easy to download these lessons, along with other multicultural lesson plans that you can use throughout the year!
As a special bonus for World Folktales & Fables Week 2017, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on the following bilingual folktales and fables available in English with multiple other languages: Buri and the Marrow, The Crow King, The Dragon’s Tears, Goose Fables, Lion Fables and Yeh Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella.
Simply enter coupon code FABLES2017 to receive the discount (valid through March 31, 2017).
To celebrate World Folktales and Fables Week, check out these blog posts for great ideas you can use in the classroom and at home:
“Holi Celebrations” by wonker via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/4CL6qE
If your classroom or library makes use of learning centers, you may be thinking about setting one up as a listening center. Students of all ages and levels, especially English language learners, benefit from this type of interactive, multi-sensory learning. Below, we offer some tips to help get your listening center up and running.
Make a Listening Center Plan
What type of Listening Center best suits your classroom? Would you like your students to focus on literacy gains and improve comprehension and vocabulary? Or do you want to focus on increasing their motivation to read, and improving their self-esteem and interpersonal skills? What are their reading levels? Do you want to rotate themes throughout the year to supplement your lesson plans?
What kind of seating will you have? A large rug, bean bags and chairs are good options. How much space do you have available, and how many students will fit? Having a separate set of learning materials for each student is ideal; but if they must share, you generally want to limit groups to no more than 3.
What listening technology will you use? You can opt for books on CD, MP3 players, ipods, or an interactive audio learning set.
How will you keep items organized? It’s best to clearly label books, buttons and learning materials. An interactive learning product like the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen allows teachers and students to record messages onto stickers with recordable labels, so your listening center can be fully customized.
Gather Your Listening Center Supplies
Now that you have a materials list for your center, it’s time to gather the supplies! Let parents know about your plan, and ask them to donate cash or supplies. Families may have unused MP3 players or ipods at home, as well as rugs, bean bag chairs and storage bins. You may want to implement a BYOHP (Bring Your Own Head Phones) policy for your students.
Check if any materials can be borrowed from your school and local libraries, or create a classroom project donation request on donorschoose.org and ask parents to promote it on social media.
It may be a good idea to team up with other teachers of the same grade level, to create a shared listening center. While this cooperative method comes with additional scheduling and maintenance concerns, it eases the initial burden of fundraising for any one classroom. And remember, it’s ok to start your Listening Center small, and build over time!
Do you have an outstanding Listening Center at your school? Comment below and share what makes it so great!
“Audio Book” by Jeff Golden via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/88og6h
Language Lizard is co-sponsoring a Listening Center giveaway… Enter below by January 14, 2017 for a chance to win!