Lost Learning Opportunities for Beginning ELLs

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Lost Learning Opportunities for Beginning ELLs

Post by suarez07 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:39 pm

In the textbook "Forbidden Language-English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies", there was a section in chapter 8 that struck a personal cord in me. It was on the topic of whether or not, and how often, should teachers use the students' primary language during their instruction. I have found myself juggling this same question. Just like some of the teachers in the chapter have expressed that they notice the students obtain more of the lesson when it is delivered in their primary language, but because of their restricted language classrooms, they feel that they are "...restricting their (the students) imagination and their mental development". I feel like it's a battle of academic growth vs. English proficiency: which is more important and at what cost? I almost feel like in order to master one, the other must be "sacrificed". Any comments???

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Post by Madeline » Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:34 pm

It's really difficult and I understand. I often thought about this. That's why it's been a big battle with BE vs EO. It's important for students to engage in the english language as much as possible and this is the way they quickly learn, with practice. But then they suffer if they are not understanding instruction and become confused. That's why I agree with a little bit a both. Some instruction in both english and native language. Sure it will be expensive because although there are more spanish speaking students in classrooms, there are also students in other communities in bilingual classes from many other countries that speak differnt languages. Which means we will need teachers that speak multiple languages which may be hard to come across. So I would think that cost and the lack of teachers would be a challenge.

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Post by andrewgessman » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:30 pm

This topic gets at the core of how challenging and complex these issues are. How do we juggle the varying needs/challenges students face in terms of satisfying both content knowledge and language knowledge, especially in the later grades? I think a possible solution (or something that would at least help) would be more collaboration between ESL teachers and other "mainstream" teachers, teaching the academic disciplines. The teachers must work together to tailor the academic material so that it is comprehensible to ELLs, while also challenging the ELLs to advance their CALP.

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