English Language Learners and Language at Home

My goal over the next year is to post at least once a week.(We’ll see how that goes!) So…I have to start somewhere and here is where I’m starting: with a secret.

(shh) Did you know I’m already back at school?

Yep, no surprise here, I’ve already started rearranging my classroom and attending classes in order to be a better teacher next/this year. I’ll admit I’m in denial about how quickly the new school year is sneaking up on me but today’s workshop sure helped to change that. I had the privilege of being a student in Karen Beeman’s ELL class today. Officially I’m “Cohort 3″ in my district and had no idea what to expect when I showed up this morning. To my surprise, Karen modeled for us – and by modeled I mean she gave us the opportunity to experience what being an English Language Learner is like in an academic classroom. For the better part of a few hours, she taught us in Spanish. It took me several minutes to figure out that we were learning about the life cycle of a butterfly and people, I’ve TAUGHT that! Not in Spanish, but still! I have to admit my super-rusty skills in Espanol came back more quickly than I’d hoped. Talking about methods, strategies and appropriate approaches for instruction with ELL students fascinated me and I can’t wait to implement what I learned today.

One of the most empowering ideas we talked about was how to encourage parents when working with their kids. Since most of you reading this are parents, I’ll say this: keep talking to your kids in your strongest language. Tell them stories, talk to them about your experiences and what you know, cook with them and play soccer together. You are your child’s first, best, and most influential teacher. What you do makes my job possible so… thank you. so. much.

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