Tag Archives: english language learners

15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language Learning

15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language LearningThis article by Breeana D. from takelessons.com is full of fun games that will get kids excited about learning a new language. Although it focuses on Spanish, these ideas can easily be adapted to any language!

Learning Spanish can be difficult, especially for kids. From complex grammar rules to difficult vocabulary words, there are a lot of tough concepts kids must learn.

While difficult, learning Spanish is well worth the time and effort. After all, learning a second language greatly increases a child’s cognitive abilities, improves his or her memory, and broadens his or her horizons. So how can you help your child stay motivated while learning Spanish? It’s easy; make learning fun by incorporating exciting games into their practice routine.

At TakeLessons, we’ve come up with 15+ fun and educational Spanish games specifically for kids. These games will help your child learn important concepts, while keeping him or her fully engaged throughout the learning process.

Diego Dice

This game is the Spanish-version of the popular children’s game, Simon Says. Choose a student to take on the role of “Diego” and have him or her issue commands to the group in Spanish. For example, “Diego dice, toca la cabeza.” (Diego says, touch your head).  Players are eliminated from the game by either failing to follow an instruction or following an instruction that doesn’t include the phrase “Diego dice.” This is a great game for teaching kids common commands in Spanish.

Charades

This game is the Spanish-version of another favorite game, Charades. First, take a set of index cards and write down different Spanish verbs; for example, bailar (to dance), correr (to run), and comer (to eat). Then, have a child choose a card from the pile and act it out in front of the group. The group will try their best to guess the Spanish verb the child is acting out. This game is a win-win for everyone, as it helps the “actor” and the “viewers” memorize common verbs.

Who Am I?

A fan favorite, Who Am I? is a great game for learning conversational speak. First, write out a list of famous individuals on a set of index cards; for example, Taylor Swift, David Beckham, Pablo Picasso, etc. Have the child choose a card from the pile and tape it onto his or her back. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Spanish about who she or he is; for example, “Am I male or female?” “Am I old or young?” After generating enough clues, the child will guess who he or she is.

For the full list of 15+ Spanish games, click here.

Using games to reinforce important language concepts is a great way to keep kids engaged. Next time it’s time to practice, try playing any one of these games with your child.

This article originally appeared on TakeLessons.com, an online marketplace that connects thousands of teachers and students for local and live online language lessons. 

Holidays & Food: Celebrate with a Discount on Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual childrens books food themed discount holidays

Think of any holiday celebrated in any part of the world, and there is sure to be at least one traditional dish associated with it. Thanksgiving turkey, curry on Boxing Day, or rice cakes for Chinese New Year… Food is the cornerstone of any celebration.

In an article that explores the relationship between food and culture, writer Amy S. Choi says, “Food feeds the soul. To the extent that we all eat food, and we all have souls, food is the single great unifier across cultures.” She says that to understand a culture’s food is to know the story of their identity, survival, status, pleasure and community.

Another article on parents.com delves into the oftentimes surprising history behind many traditional holiday dishes, like Christmas fruit cake and Hanukkah latkes. Did you know sweets are eaten during Diwali to symbolize the defeat of evil and the triumph of goodness and light?

To get your classroom and family talking about their favorite holiday dishes, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on these fun, food-themed bilingual children’s books:

Yum Let's Eat! Bilingual children's bookYum! Let’s Eat! – Meet children from around the world and explore their foods and eating traditions. This story explores the rich diversity of children’s lives and develops a worldwide perspective.

Grandma's Saturday Soup - bilingual children's bookGrandma’s Saturday Soup – Every day something reminds Mimi of Grandma’s special Saturday Soup and the tales her grandma tells. Delightful descriptions of Jamaica, accompanied by vivid illustrations, will make us all wish that we had a grandma like this!

Buri and the Morrow - bilingual children's bookBuri and the Marrow – In this famous Bengali story, an old woman travels through the forest to meet her daughter. On her way she meets a fox, a tiger and a lion, and she must come up with a plan to outwit them.

Alice and Marek's Christmas - bilingual children's bookAlice & Marek’s Christmas – It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is getting ready. This story explores the different ways people celebrate  around the world. There are recipes and activities in this beautifully illustrated book that takes us to the heart of Christmas in Poland.

Deepak's Diwali - bilingual children's bookDeepak’s Diwali –  This warm contemporary story is interwoven with beautifully illustrated images from Hindu mythology. The book is packed with recipes and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Samira's Eid - bilingual children's bookSamira’s Eid – The first sighting of the new moon starts a day of celebration for Samira and her family. The Ramadan fast is over and now it is time for prayers and presents. A surprise visitor brings a mysterious present and has an unusual story to tell. Great for teaching children about Islamic holidays and culture.

Li's Chinese New Year - bilingual children's bookLi’s Chinese New Year – It’s nearly the New Year and Li can’t figure out what animal he’s going to be in the special school assembly. Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? Find each of the 12 zodiac animals on your way through the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the festival at the back of the book.

The Giant Turnip - bilingual children's bookThe Giant Turnip – This traditional story is set in an inner-city school where the children have grown an enormous turnip! How can they pull it out? They all try together but the turnip will not budge. Who will save the day?

limasredhotchilliLima’s Red Hot Chilli – Take one hungry little girl, six different tempting foods and one shiny, delicious red hot chilli. One big bite results in a spectacular display of fireworks. Mom, Dad, Aunt and Grandad all come to help, but Lima’s mouth is still too hot. Who can rescue her?

Just enter code FOOD15 during checkout to receive 10% off these fun, holiday food-themed titles, now through December 31, 2015.

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

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

Cookbook & Bilingual Book Giveaway

Cover of Room to Read cookbook "Recipes Worth Reading"Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh food, try new recipes, and connect with family by sharing both a good meal and a good book. Language Lizard is making that easier with our “COOK & READ” Giveaway where you can win a cookbook and a bilingual book.

Room to Read

Room to Read is an organization that “envision[s] a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.” Our friends at the Central NJ Chapter of Room to Read have created a delightful cookbook, Recipes Worth Reading, with 150 recipes from around the world. Each chapter represents a country Room to Read operates in. There are sections with Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Eating Light, Allergen Free, One Pot Dishes, Desserts and more! Best of all, 100% of proceeds from the cookbook benefit Room to Read programs supporting literacy and gender equality in education in Africa and Asia. You can order the cookbook through the Barnes & Noble website. To learn more about Room to Read, visit www.roomtoread.org.

How to Enter:

COOK & READ 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. Entering the giveaway is simple:
1) No purchase necessary: Simply fill out our contact form and write “COOK & READ” in the comments section, along with your choice of language from one of Language Lizard’s 40+ languages.
2) If you are making a purchase, you can write “COOK & READ” and your language choice in the order notes section, and you will also be entered.
Bonus entry point: Tell us you posted about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog, and you will get one extra entry point!
Language Lizard will accept entries until September 15, 2015, and three winners will be selected using Random.org’s number generator.  One entry per person please.

The Last Book My Dad Read to Me

bilingual father reaching for book

by guest blogger Sue Kwon

For my husband, our two young girls and myself, reading a bedtime story together is a much-loved nightly ritual. On our busiest days, it’s our first opportunity to sit down with a single purpose and no distractions. My husband is the official story reader in our family. He has patience (that I lack) with even the longest, most repetitive children’s books. The girls sit still, listen with rapt attention, and gaze up at him with eyes full of love and admiration.

In our household, we all speak and read in English. It’s a commonality that’s easy to take for granted. It means story time is an experience shared equally by everyone. The family I grew up in was different: my parents and older sisters were Korean immigrants, and I was born in the US. They all spoke and read in Korean, and I almost entirely in English. My father and I had a nightly story time routine too, and I remember very clearly the last book he ever read to me.

My father was born and raised in a small town in South Korea. He served a mandatory time in the military, married young, and eventually emigrated to the US with his wife and young daughters, knowing no English whatsoever. Once here, he picked up the language quickly while working at a doughnut shop, where he biked to and fro each day. One night at work, he was held up at gunpoint, and he decided to make a big change: He opened a business installing windows, a skill he had learned as a young man in Korea. We were lucky – the new business grew fast. But that meant he worked very long, stressful hours. By the time he got home at night, he was so exhausted he only paused briefly to eat dinner before going to bed.

I got into the habit of waiting by the front door as soon as my mother started making his dinner. That way, as soon as he walked in, I could pounce on him with a book in hand. Although my father had very impressive verbal English skills, his reading skills were very basic. Still, he would sit and read to me, and it was the few precious moments we spent together each day.

One evening, when I was 5, he came home from work and we sat down right in the entryway, just like always. He opened the book and read the first line: “We like worms!” he said, his English heavily accented. “Not worms, Daddy!” I interrupted. “It says ‘rhymes!’ Why would they like worms?” I doubled over with laughter. I found it hilarious that my dad, the most grown-up person I knew, someone I thought was invincible, didn’t know the word “rhymes.” What was even funnier to me was the fact that we had read that book a hundred times before, and I had thought all along it was a story about worms. I laughed so hard, I didn’t immediately realize that he wasn’t laughing with me. The emotion on his face was so clear, I knew without a doubt I had embarrassed him. It must have been humiliating to be corrected and laughed at by his preschooler. He handed me the book, shrugged, and said it looked like I didn’t need his help anymore.

We never attempted story time after that. Partly because of my father’s embarrassment, but also because I had lost respect for him. I naively thought that if I could read better than he could, I must be smarter than him. Who knows, maybe on some level he thought the same thing. It didn’t occur to me then that his ability to read in English was not a true measure of his intelligence. We never tried reading a book in Korean. I think if we had, I would’ve realized right away how silly my assumption was.

It wasn’t until I was grown with kids of my own, years after his passing, that I realized the enormity of my father’s life. The amount of bravery it must have taken for him to leave his home country. The level of intelligence it must have taken to pick up a new language, and then grow a successful business from scratch. My dad came from such humble beginnings, but managed to achieve so much in his life.

Thirty years after that last story, and 10 years after his passing, I often think about all the knowledge, experience and wisdom my dad must have carried with him. I wish I had given him a chance to hand it down to me. Because we didn’t share a written language, and had no means to bridge that gap, we missed out on a lifetime of knowing each other.

Tonight, as I sat with my husband while he read to the girls, I thought about how lucky we are. Lucky to be able to share bedtime stories, but also lucky to live in a time and place where foreign language is no longer seen as a detriment, but a great asset. Parents don’t have to give up their home language for fear of hindering their kids’ development. Languages can mix, intermingle and live in harmony in the same household. Parents and kids can meet somewhere in the middle, and share bedtime stories that lead to life stories that lead to a lifetime of family togetherness.

Do you have more than one language in your home? Tell us your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.

“No substitute” by Patrick Feller via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6jEJFb

From Summer Slide…to Reading Pride!

photo credit: KOMUnews @flickr.com

“[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:

Summer Literacy Programs

AND

Bilingual Books for Summertime Reading

 

 

 

 

Bilingual Storytime: 5 Different Types

Nowadays many libraries and bookstores are delighting their patrons with storytimes. Children love the magic of a good book that is brought to life through the skills of a good presenter. It is an opportunity for children to travel to new places that have never been explored and to experience adventures that have never been undertaken.

The elements of a successful storytime are essential: A book with a great storyline, captivating pictures and an energetic presenter who is willing to act out the parts.  Poor stories, illustration or delivery can disappoint children who were hoping to be swept away.

In many places around the world, bilingual storytimes are becoming extremely popular. In addition to the basic criteria listed above, presenters must be attentive to the language mix of the target audience. Some storytimes are only in one language (e.g. Spanish or Chinese) while others have a more bilingual approach (e.g. using both English and Spanish during the same storytime). While some storytimes are intended to support the home language, others are focused on helping students learn a new language.

Here are 5 different types of storytimes that you might find in your school or community: Continue reading Bilingual Storytime: 5 Different Types

How to Help Students Survive Culture Shock

How to Help Students Survive Culture Shock

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

The Value of Cooperative Learning Activities for English Language Learners

English Language Learners Cooperative Learning Activity

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