Today we explore why vaccines are important and how we can ensure all children have a clear understanding of the science and history behind vaccines. Our book, Vaccines Explained, provides teachers with a bilingual tool to start this conversation. Continue reading Why Are Vaccines Important?
Language Lizard is pleased to announce new multilingual “talking” charts that allow students to hear explanations of key terms in English, geography, math & science in many different languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
These charts are invaluable resources for teachers who support a linguistically diverse student body. Using these charts with the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, newcomers and English Language Learners (ELLs) can hear key terms explained in their native languages, allowing for a better understanding of subject matter content.
Students simply select the language that they want to hear from the right side of the chart with the PENpal, and then tap a subject term to hear an explanation of the word in the selected language. Teachers and students can also use “talking labels” (recordable stickers) to add their own recordings of additional information to the chart.
There are four new Talking Charts, and they can be purchased separately or in a value pack of 4 Multilingual Charts.
English Multilingual Terms Chart
The English Multilingual Terms Chart includes explanations and examples for terms such as alliteration, apostrophe, conjunction, differentiate, figurative, imagery, narrative/narrator, onomatopoeia, personification, preposition and synonym.
The Geography Multilingual Terms Chart includes explanations for erosion, estuary, habitat, infrastructure, landscape, latitude, longitude, pollution, settlement and much more.
The Math Multilingual Terms Chart includes terms such as adjacent, circumference, coordinate, decimal, denominator, diameter, equilateral, fraction, isosceles, perimeter, perpendicular, radius, ratio, symmetry and vertical.
Science Multilingual Terms Chart
The Science Multilingual Terms Chart includes absorb, amphibian, circulation, condensation, combustion, evaporation, friction, nutrient, organism, particles, respiration, vertebrate and more key terms.
Multilingual Phrases for School Talking Chart
These new charts work alongside our popular Multilingual Phrases for School Talking Chart which allows teachers and administrators to communicate more easily with student language learners as well as parents who do not speak English well.
The following languages are available on the charts: Arabic, Czech, English, Farsi, French, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Sylheti, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yorub
You can get more detailed information on these multilingual “talking” charts, and also check out all of our PENpal products and literacy value sets.
The process of language development in children is an amazing one, and full of so much complexity. Here, we offer 5 fun activity ideas that can help the oral language development of the kids in your home or classroom.
Oral Language and Literacy
So much of language is learned in the early years of life, simply by listening to and interacting with those around us. As time goes by, our oral language skills improve through practice and formal instruction. Oral language is made up of three parts: phonological (how sounds are combined), semantic (the smallest components of words), and syntactic (how sentences are put together).
Literacy begins with good oral language skills. In a classroom setting, it may feel counter-intuitive for a teacher to allow students more time to talk in groups, but there are a number of advantages to doing so. They gain valuable practice with new vocabulary, enhance conversational proficiency, and improve their ability to express their ideas. Also, kids often feel more relaxed when speaking to their peers because they aren’t so worried about giving the “wrong” answer. As such, they are more open to absorbing and learning from what’s being discussed, in turn improving their overall language skills.
Activities for Oral Language Development
No matter the type of activity, keep these guidelines in mind when planning:
- Keep the activity free from anxiety by creating a positive environment to limit the fear of embarrassment.
- Provide clear instructions, possibly in different formats, so that all learning types can understand what’s expected.
- Keep activities engaging by introducing fun or dramatic elements.
- Lastly, remember that kids will need lots of repetition to practice their oral language skills.
Here are 5 activity ideas, from our post about language development in the classroom:
- Mini Circle Chats: Have your students sit in circles of 4 or 5. Give them a list of fun questions that encourage more than single-word answers. Let students know that they can engage in discussions together so they can talk about similarities and differences. If you have a very diverse classroom, ensure that each circle includes a mix of cultures.
- Word Play: Ask students to write 5-10 words (in any language). Have each student share one of their words with the class, and ask the student to explain why he or she chose to write down that word. Does it represent a feeling or an event that took place?
- Memory Drawings: Have students draw their favorite memories, then share with the rest of the class, explaining the different elements of their picture. Or, spread out a long piece of paper and have students draw their memories at the same time on a wall mural. When the time is up, hang the mural up on the wall and let everyone spend a good amount of time looking at it up close and talking about it. Eventually you can have the students sit down on the floor in front of the mural and talk as a group about what they see and what thoughts come to their minds.
- Multicultural Traditions: Have students sit together in a circle to share one of their cultural or family traditions. Then ask others in the circle if they also participate in the tradition with their family and if so, whether or not they celebrate it in the same way. Help students notice that not everyone has the same traditions, and that even the same traditions can be celebrated in different ways.
For those times when group or peer interaction isn’t realistic, an individualized learning tool like the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen can be invaluable in providing the differentiated instruction needed to help teachers reach every student, of all skill levels, in an effective way. Free video and print resources on the Language Lizard website help educators and parents use the Talking Pen to effectively develop and assess oral language skills, as well as build fluency and improve phonemic awareness with their students.
“Girl Talk” by Dean Wissing via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6r3SmY
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“[Here] is what reading is all about: yes, it will make kids smarter and give them a better start in life than non-readers, but for me that’s not the point. The point is that reading is fun…”
This is a quote from a recent article in British newspaper The Guardian by Charlie Higson, author of a variety of YA fiction including the Young James Bond series. Sure, as a writer he might have a vested interest in promoting reading, but there is no denying the inherent truth of what he is saying. To get kids to read, and keep reading, particularly over the long summer months, it must be a pleasurable experience. This is definitely the point that we need to get across to children now that the sound of the school bell has faded and it seems like forever before the leaves start to turn and they’re back at their desks. Summer is for having fun, and that includes reading!
Bilingual Books and the Summer Learning Slide
Many families, teachers, and librarians worry about the summer learning slide, and with good reason. A study done by Reading Rockets found that for “116 first, second, and third graders in a school in a middle class neighborhood …the decoding skills of nearly 45% of the participants and the fluency skills of 25% declined between May and September.” Attention clearly needs to paid to reading over summer vacation if we are to combat this trend.
For families who want to renew their children’s enthusiasm for reading, bilingual books can add a new dimension. For families who speak a language other than English at home, bilingual books can be a comforting way to read in their home language while simultaneously building their English skills over the summer.
Here are some tips to help your children and students use bilingual books for having fun and improving their reading skills before September:
- Start with an old favorite. A great access point for bilingual reading is a book your child already knows and loves. If he or she is a fan of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, reading it in English and then in French will make the new language seem less intimidating. Kids will enjoy matching up the French vocabulary with the pictures and English words they already know!
There are also a variety of folktales and stories from around the world available in bilingual editions (English and another language text on the same page), so children who speak a different home language can also find stories that are familiar to them. A group of parents who want to encourage their children to become bilingual readers could find a set of books to swap throughout the summer, so no-one gets bored!
- Become the star of your book. Bring your bilingual story to life by getting kids to act it out using words from the less familiar language. Not only is this fun, but the kinaesthetic element will help embed their new vocabulary. The creativity and freedom involved in this activity will go a long way towards helping children understand that reading is enjoyable and reading a new language is even more fun when you practice it together!
- Make a scene! Why not try using cardboard and found objects to recreate a scene that you see in the bilingual book you’re reading? The kids can go on a hunt to gather what they need and then label the scene in both languages used in the book.
- Talk it out. Start your own mini-book group, even with your pre-schoolers! This would be especially useful for parents who are trying to encourage their children to speak English alongside a different home language.
At school, children are used to discussing books. The question-and-answer structure will be familiar to them and therefore allow them to feel more comfortable and take more risks speaking their new language. Simple discussions about feelings and plot are great tools to help embed new vocabulary: “How does the explorer feel about the animals at the end of the book? What has changed?” “What were your favorite plants that you saw in the drawings?” See if you can get your children to answer in both languages. They’ll feel more involved in what they’ve read and excited to continue their literary journey!
- Let a librarian help. Kristina Robertson from colorincolorado.org, a website dedicated to helping the families and educators of English/Dual Language Learners, writes, “Libraries offer all kinds of resources and opportunities to ELLs and their families, but many families may not know about the kinds of services and programs that libraries offer.” Well, summer is the time to check it out! Head to your local library and see what bilingual resources they have available. Many libraries also hold summer reading challenges (see the next tip) which can easily be adapted to support bilingual reading. Colorin Colorado provides a useful list of links to different programs in major cities – if yours isn’t on here, a quick search on the internet may also provide results.
Are you a librarian? For you, summer is a great time to reach out to the community and welcome ELLs into your stacks. As Robertson writes, many families are unaware of the great summer reading programs and bilingual resources you offer – so get some flyers translated and start sticking them up around town!
…And here’s a list of other great ways librarians are improving literacy for ELLs all over the country: http://www.languagelizard.com/newsarticle8.htm
- Challenge yourself! Embrace your child’s competitive spirit and let them enter the Scholastic Summer Challenge. Kids log minutes and see “how far round the world” they can read – as a parent, you could log double for bilingual books as they’ve technically read them twice!
- Banish “Are we there yet?”s. Ah, the long car ride- a breeding ground for “I’m boooored!”s or, worse, long silences broken only by the tapping of little fingers on a Nintendo DS! But it doesn’t have to be this way: find a bilingual children’s book on cd, or record your own as a podcast, and bring it with you on your way to Grandma’s to keep the kids entertained and prevent the dreaded summer learning slump.
Summer is such a perfect opportunity to show kids how much fun bilingual reading can be. How are you planning to use bilingual books to prepare your kids for the exciting year ahead at school?
For more ideas about summer literacy, check out the following Language Lizard blogs:
Now that the New Year has arrived and school is back in full swing, students are sure to be filled brimming with enthusiastic stories of what they did during their winter holiday. Ice skating in the park, opening gifts at the fireplace, lighting candles in beautifully wrought candelabras are just a few activities that children might share with an overjoyed twinkle in their eye. How could they not?!
As we all know first-hand, getting students to engage in conversations works best when they are inspired and excited about the topic. This is particularly true of bilingual students, especially those who may still be mastering the community language. What better time than now to get your bilingual students talking with you and one another? Their minds are so full of wonderful memories from the holidays, they will most likely want to share as much as possible.
Here are 5 tips on how to help your students direct their holiday excitement into fun language opportunities:
Continue reading Bilingual Students: Using Holiday Celebrations to Promote Language Development in Multicultural Classrooms
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
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
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
Chinese New Year is almost here! Chinese families around the world are already celebrating this exciting event which lasts for fifteen days. The celebration begins on the night of a new moon and culminates with the Lantern Festival, a celebration that takes place under the light of the full moon. Families join together in the streets carrying lighted lanterns to create a beautiful light display.
Before the Chinese New Year begins, homes are cleaned from top to bottom. The goal is to sweep out ill fortune and encourage the good fortune of the new year to enter. The evening of Chinese New Year is a big event celebrated with traditional feasting and ending with a fireworks display. Each of the fifteen days of Chinese New Year has a special significance: friends and families share traditional feasts, honor ancestors and deities, exchange gifts, visit extended family members, give children red envelopes with good luck money, and enjoy traditional music and special celebrations.
To share this wonderful event with your students, we encourage you to download our free Chinese New Year lesson plan which takes students on a journey through the Chinese New Year by utilizing geography, crafts and discussion. Continue reading Chinese New Year: Lessons to Help Children Appreciate Cultural and Linguistic Diversity