Thursday, April 9, 2009

Topic: English Language Learners (ELLs)

10-second review: The concept of “additive literacy,” the use of both languages, the native language and English, the language to be learned, in class.

Title: “Informed Additive Literacy Instruction for ELLs.” EB Bauer. Reading Teacher (February 2005), 446-448. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: Suggests that teachers encourage students to use both native and English languages while working in the classroom.

Problem with “additive literacy”: Political climate is for English-only schools. Lack of available bilingual teachers and mainstream teachers who have not been trained in working with ELLs.

Advantages: Classrooms that promote additive literacy provide students with the means to connect what they know about literacy in one language to another language.

Teachers should encourage use of both languages.

Comment: I am reporting this idea because I don’t have much experience in working with ELLs. It makes sense theoretically. But it is a political issue since most “experts” recommend English-only instruction, minimizing attention to the first or the native language. This article almost comes down on the side of promoting the first language.

Speaking as an outsider (retired) in today’s educational climate, I think any school district that does not train its teachers in how to work with ELLs is doing the students and their teachers a serious disservice.

I will continue to look for ideas on how to work with ELLs for my blogs
. RayS.

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