English Language Learners and Families
ELL’s are a group of students who are rapidly growing due to the high numbers of immigrants or refugees who are settling in the US (NCTE, 2008). ELLs are a complex group of learners because the students come from different backgrounds which have a diversity of cultures, educational needs, beliefs, and gifts. As a result of this diversity, some students may come from homes where no English is spoken at all, or homes where little English is spoken. These students face various challenges in their pursuit of education, mainly involving their integration with other students. Some may face stigmatization due to how they may speak or the languages which they are familiar. To enable ELL students to excel it is important that these students are able to learn cohesively with other students. It is therefore important to understand the various socio-cultural factors involved in their education to enable a seamless integration (CAL, 2011).
It is important for an educator to understand the socio-cultural dynamics which are associated with an individual ELL. The teacher should therefore take time to understand the background of the student especially cultural practices which may have an effect on learning. This will enable the educator to understand better how to work with the student, and to understand the attitudes and practices. It is also important for the educator to understand the past literary experiences of the ELL, so that instruction may be more effective. When the educator takes time to understand these factors, he/she is able to: grow metalinguistic awareness; translate and codeswitch; find solutions to conflicts between community and school; and deal with the socio-cultural factors that may influence language status (Gardner, 2001).
Bilingualism and Home Language Use
It is important that the students who speak other languages be allowed to develop their native languages as well as English. This means that English should be taught as an additive language and must not cause loss of the native tongue (CAL, 2011). This is because the student must be able to continue to communicate effectively with immediate and extended family members who may not understand English. In addition, the native language may be useful in explaining certain concepts or objects n the English language. It is recommended that a bilingual teacher be used to educate the ELLs, because it would promote meaningful interaction between both languages. In cases where bilingual teachers are unavailable, a school may consider working together with community volunteers or with parents to enhance learning.
Parental and Community Resources for English acquisition
In my community, there is a program which assists learners who need to learn English. This program brings together the parents or guardians of English learners who work together with community volunteers who are also bilingual to help the students to acquire English. This program is very flexible because the community volunteers actually take time to understand the families and their backgrounds and therefore can effectively instruct the students. In addition, some of the community volunteers are bilingual teachers in the schools and this program enables them to be able to interact with the students and their families and thus be in a better position to understand their socio-cultural dynamics.
How you and your School can Improve Home and School Partnerships with ELL Families
It is important that the collaboration between parents and the school is seamless, so that English learning becomes a more cohesive effort which is more effective. While there is a community program in my community where parents and community volunteers interact, the program can be enhanced to make its impact more successful (Huang 2011). For example, while teachers are sometimes the community volunteers. It is not mandatory for the teachers to be part of the program. This means that during certain times of the year, there are sometimes no teachers participating in it. I would suggest that the schools make it compulsory for its teachers to be part of this program so that they may better comprehend ELLs. In addition, the school can come up with its own extracurricular program where parents, teachers, and the ELLs interact together.
Instructing ELLs requires the educator to understand the socio-cultural dynamics which affect them. This enables the teacher to understand any cultural practices which may hinder the learning process. By understanding the student’s background the instructor will be better positioned to teach the students more effectively. It is important that the instruction of ELLs be a concerted effort between parents, the community, and the teachers.
Centre for Applied Linguistics (2011). Working with young English learners: some considerations. Available at http://www. cal. org/resources/digest/0301coltrane. html
Gardner R. C., (2001). Integrative motivation and second language acquisition. In Dornyei, Z. , & Schmidt R. (Eds). Motivation and second language acquisition. (Technical Report, No. 23 pp 1-19). Honolulu: University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.
Huang, S. (2011). Reading ‘further and beyond the text’: student perspectives of critical literacy in EFL reading and writing. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(2), 145-154. doi: 10. 1002/JAAL. 00017
National Council of Teachers of English (2008). English language learners. Available at http://www. ncte. org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/PolicyResearch/ELLResearchBrief. pdf