Teacher & Staff Resources
KEY IDEAS FOR TEACHERS
1. Encourage parents to speak with their children at home in whatever language they speak best. Do not encourage them to speak English at home if English is not their stronger language.
The better developed a student’s “first” or “native” language is, the better their English will become. Language skills transfer.
If parents speak English poorly, it will be a poor model for their children, and will not assist the children in developing English well.
If parents speak English poorly, then, in effect, by telling them to speak English, it limits communication between the generations. It is crucial that children have extensive interaction with parents and other family members. This can only be done in whichever language parents are most fluent.
2. Don’t assume proficiency based on conversational ability.
Social language develops much faster than academic language. If an English language learner has basic oral communication skills, don’t assume he/she is “fluent enough” to be successful without continued classroom differentiation and ESOL services. The student still needs to master academic language. Long-standing research has proven that social language develops typically within 3 years; academic language develops typically within 7 years!
3. Children will benefit from reading at home, in any language. Encourage families to read in English, and in their native language.
We have an extensive (and growing) collection of multicultural and bilingual books at each elementary school. English language learners can borrow books in any language. They can read at home with siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.
We have bilingual flyers to encourage families to talk together about books before, during, and after reading. ESOL Family Literacy flyers in many languages are posted along the right side of this page.
4. English learners need to develop proficiency in four domains of language, all of equal importance: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing.
Using just one measure of proficiency (for a single domain) is not enough to judge proficiency in the other domains.
Most ELLs develop proficiency in Speaking and Listening sooner than in Reading and Writing.
For many ELLs, reading fluency and reading comprehension are very much separate. Many ELLs demonstrate reading fluency but poor comprehension. However, it is also common for ELLs to demonstrate poor reading fluency but strong comprehension.
5. Identity affirmation is crucial for academic engagement.
Students who feel their culture and identity validated in the classroom are much more likely to engage with literacy than those who perceive their culture and identity ignored or devalued.
Be sure your classroom includes images that are reflective of students’ cultures, from the instructional texts and materials to the instructional activities, from the classroom walls to the classroom library.