Student's that do not speak English as a first language can often face disadvantages compared to their peers who are fluent in English. English language learners (ELLs) are often overwhelmed when first experiencing the communication barrier that is present in most classrooms. Instructions from the teacher and conversation amongst other children will most often be completed in English — a language that is often unfamiliar to a student that is an English language learner.
Some ELLs get lucky and have a peer, teacher assistant, or teacher in their classroom who speaks the same language, but when the child is not faced with this lucky experience there may not be anyone to translate langauge. This lack of translation requires the teacher to develop a curriculum that supports the needs of all students, regardless of language. Mary Renck Jalongo, Phd explores the issues ELLs face and how they can be effectivley addressed in her book Literacy for All Young Learners.
Within Literacy for All Young Learners, educators can find 5 strategies for to improve the reading fluency of English language learners.
- Build on Familiarity
Breakthroughs in communication frequently happen when children interact with materials and do activities with which they are already familiar, such as water, sand, clay, and music and movement.
- Use a Variety of Approaches
Multimodal approaches promote student engagement. If you combine gestures, objects, pictures, sounds, oral language, demonstrations of how things are done, and references to printed texts, you offer the largest number of children the greatest opportunity to learn.
- Consider the Children's Emotions
Young children often fear making a mistake and may remain silent as they listen and observe — even when they understand some of what is being said. Positive recognition from peers can fuel a child's motivation to speak out.
- Use Repetition and Intentional Vocabulary Instruction
Researchers have found that, beginning at about age three, young children learn an estimated six to ten new words per day. However, they need about eight to ten meaningful repetitions of a word to make it part of their active vocabulary, so ordinary talk is often inadequate for developing vocabulary. Children suddenly placed in an environment where their langauge is not the langauge of instruction restart this process.
- Get in Touch with the Beginner's Mind
Adopting the child's point of view os essential to understanding how to support literacy all day and every day. Children often think that knwoing how to read would magically "just happen" to them someday, so it is essential to put yourself into the mindset of a beginner.