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English only?

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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 24
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:37 am    Post subject: English only? Reply with quote

The issue of incorporating/allowing students to use their native language in the classroom is something I'm still very unsure about while studying to become an ESL teacher. While I FULLY support and encourage the use of students' L1 at home, I'm uncertain whether or not to allow future students to use it on a consistent basis. I would like to teach elementary school children and I am aware that students at this age will be on a variety of language levels in both their L1 and L2. Therefore, I am unsure about my approach to having an English-only classroom. Because I am not bilingual I would be timid to allow frequent L1 use due to the fact that I would not be able to understand my students. I would also fear that they would become too reliant on their L1 and be unable/unwilling to learn the new language. On the other hand, I do not want students to shy away from learning English because they are afraid/feel uncomfortable about making mistakes in front of other students. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is there anyone who is having or has had a similar dilemma?
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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



As a new ESL teacher I found that my students love to speak in their native language all the time. The students I teach are 4 and 5th graders. All the children I teach speak Spanish. That is their native language. They feel comfortable speaking the language around me because they know I understand them. Nevertheless, when I am teaching I tell them that I want them to speak in English. Sometimes they slip and answer my questions in Spanish. Not because they can't answer in English, I think they just forget that we are in ESL class. I tell them that when I am not teaching ESL they are more then welcome to speak to me in Spanish. Now, this would be different if I taught students that speak other languages. I would be timid too. I know some ESL teachers in my school that do not speak Spanish and they do just fine. As a matter a fact they learned some Spanish from their students. So let them teach you their language once in a while. Very Happy
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Joined: 02 Feb 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made a film which you an watch online for free about how bilingual teachers can help focus bilingual students to study language more in depth. Elsewhere in this forum, I posted details about my films. Poetry Inside Out is an example of a successful program that helps students compare words in each language.


I also posted about what happens in an English-only environment in the English only vs. bilingual education posting. I hope the free film above will be helpful.
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Joined: 02 Sep 2013
Posts: 27
Location: Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:45 am    Post subject: Using L1 in a multi-lingual classroom Reply with quote

Hey there. I've been teaching Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese kids English for 17 years now. In my opinion it is in the kids' and teacher's interest to allow some use of the L1 in the English language class. Of course the reliance on the L1 will differ depending on the exposure the child has had to English. The way I see it is that sometimes a student needs a 'key', just like opening a door. If they are not given a key, the 'door' in this case, English, remains firmly shut.
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