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How Monolingual Teachers Can Support English Language Acquisition for Multilingual Learners

Posted on 09/28/2022

I want my teacher to know I’m smart in Swahili,
one student wrote, changing the future of this teacher’s practice.

This article discusses the importance of understanding while a student may not be able to speak English, yet they are confident as a “learner in their first language.” English learner students are not a blank slate when they enter the classroom. “Research shows that students who are classified as English Language Learners may be perceived by teachers as less capable than their non-English peers.” Furthermore, entrance exams given in English can provide “inaccurate information that teachers use to guide their practice” about what a student knows or to “wrongly indicate learning disabilities.”

The writer expresses the lessons a student named Esther gave her years ago. This is that a teacher cannot see what a student knows inside their head. The success of an ELL student “depends on their teachers’ ability to see them, to get to know them, and to design learning experiences that meet their needs as a whole learner.”

The writer is a monolingual teacher who works daily to support all her students without bilingual interpreters. Over the years she realized that to fully support my students, I need to acknowledge that “it is isolating to not understand and to not be understood.” It is also a realization to view bilingualism as an asset to be valued in the classroom.

How can monolingual teachers support English language acquisition?

  1. Before assessing academic growth, provide ample time for students to settle into their new learning environment and develop an understanding of the person and learner.
  2. Rely on language proficiency standards of what students can do and how to provide language scaffolds for content.

The most important depends on the ability to “see” them as people and design learning experiences which meets their language and content needs.

Full Article: How Monolingual Teachers Can Support English Language Acquisition for Multilingual Learners

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