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Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 9:40 pm
I was having a discussion today at work with a colleague about an ELL she is tutoring. She is a general education teacher for whom I have the utmost respect. However, she mentioned that she wished this student's family would stop speaking in Spanish at home. Apparently, the student is having difficulty with verb tenses, and my friend feels the use of the student's native language is interfering with her learning English. I tried pointing out research to the contrary, and how the student can transfer the rules and skills of her native language to English. At first my friend dismissed the idea. Yet, as we discussed it further I did seem to get through to her a little. I suggested some strategies that she is going to try this week. I honestly felt like it was a type of breakthrough as I often feel the mainstream teachers are less than sympathetic to the ELL's. I'm excited to hear the results. It left me a little hopeful that we can help expand the thinking of our co-workers.
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:24 am
This is a fear of mine that I have for my future teaching career! I'm nervous about the lack of respect and dismissal of ELL students by mainstream teachers. I have heard stories about the attitudes teachers have towards their ESL students (or just ELLs in general!) and I have to say it makes me want to have my own classroom as opposed to a push-in option. I wouldn't want to step on any toes and create unnecessary friction, but aren't ALL teachers here for the good of their students?
Glad you were able to get across to your colleague that her student can still use their L1 at home! I think that is extremely important and it's even more important for other teachers (particularly those with bad attitudes) to be aware that there are other ways to help such situations.
Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:53 pm
I, too, have had similar conversations with teachers in general education classes. I have had many “breakthrough” moments with several of these teachers. Unfortunately, I have received the most resistance from one particular administrator. This administrator has asked the student, on multiple occasions, to cease speaking in his native language during lunch and recess.
I always emphasize the importance of students maintaining and progressing with speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills in their L1 at home. The Interdependence Language Theory (Cummins) supports student growth in the L1 to help the learner transfer this knowledge into the L2. I do try to share this information with my colleagues. Most of the time, they are receptive to my suggestions. However, there are times when an educator’s misconceptions continue to dominate and affect the learning of the ELL student. I’m thrilled that you were able to reach your co-worker and help to educate her on ways that will best help the ELL student.
Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 4:50 pm
I believe that helping your students maintain their L1 is essential to their acquisition of L2 because the language skills are tranferable. If they "master" their L1, then they have learned the grammatical rules in the L1. They then transfer that knowledge to their L2 acquisition. They actually pick up L2 much faster than those who just learn it during their English L1 acquistion. So I would suggest that you do some research and show your colleagues those researches to support your argument. Hopefully, through this they, too, would learn something new and become more supportive in helping those immigrant children maintaining their L1.