7 Tips on Educating Newcomers

Over the years, Dual Language teaching has become in demand due to the many known benefits of being bilingual. Finding more ways to nourish and support the students’ educational needs is challenging. Dual Language educators must strike a balance between the language and psychological needs of their students, particularly newcomers and ELL’s. For those working in dual language schools, this offers a guide to educating newcomers..

1. Focus on English

Concentrate on the language need of students, set a structured curriculum but make sure it is not overwhelming. Consider below characteristics of a good English skills:

Comprehension Learner can understand short questions and simple non-formulaic statements when they are embedded in a short dialogue or passage heard at less than normal speed. However, it is likely that some details will be lost, and some repetition may be necessary.
Fluency When participating in a simple conversation on familiar, everyday topics, the learner can formulate short, simple non-formulaic statements and questions.
Vocabulary Learner has enough vocabulary (including high-frequency idiomatic expressions) to make simple statements and ask questions about things in a simplified conversation.
Pronunciation Learner is beginning to demonstrate control over a large number of sounds and sound patterns. Some repetition may be necessary to make meaning clear.
Grammar Learner can demonstrate understanding of basic sentence and question patterns, with some grammatical errors.

2. Setting Clear Expectations

When building programs, one size does not fit all. Many immersion programs have language proficiency expectations that are not properly aligned from one grade to the next. There should be clear goals for each academic year, and those goals must be reflected in curriculum. A language immersion expert, says true immersion is not simply about teaching children to speak in the target language, it is about getting them to “think and dream” in the target language as well. The goal of an immersion program should be to produce well-balanced students who are bi-literate, bi-cognitive, and bi-cultural within five years. That goal may sound ambitious, but it is achievable with a well-designed and well-implemented program.

Continue reading to find out more advice on helping your students learn at home…

3. Allow Room for Error

It can be frustrating to feel your points are not getting across, but it should not interrupt the flexibility of the learning process. Allowing students to make mistakes and work with them to eliminate repetitive error makes the learning environment less intimidating.

4. Allow Learners to have a Level of Control

If you really want your students to learn, they’ve got to be engaged. Have them to work with peers, get ideas and give them exercises to execute what is being taught by allowing them to run their own classroom.

5. Stay Connected

Teachers need to find ways to make learning relevant, authentic and valuable in student’s lives. One key way to involve students in their learning is to connect what you’re teaching to real life, ensure the material speaks to them. Find out what your students are passionate about and then use those interests as natural motivators to increase engagement. Whether a child is fixated on one thing or has a few areas of intense interest, there are many simple strategies you can use to work those fascinations into your instruction.

6. Be sure to use Visuals

Visual aids help students understand and remember concepts more easily. A picture is worth a thousand words, it allows you to explain the meaning behind various vocabulary and structures without explanation. In addition, you can ask prompting questions about your visual aids to boost Student Talking Time and lead them to the answer.

7. Use the Learner’s Native Language

Your Spanish-speaking learners will be glad to realize that there are linguistic similarities between English and Spanish. Point out these similarities and allow your students to keep track of words that have similar sounds and related spellings in both languages. This way, students can correlate both languages. Teachers who work regularly with English language learners (ELLs), particularly those who are certified as ESL specialists, have an important role to play in identifying and addressing students’ needs, even if they don’t have a special education background. They know students well, understand the process of language acquisition, and can bring valuable insights to a student evaluation.

Patricia Griselda Pérez
Author: Patricia Griselda Pérez

Dr. Patricia Pérez holds an A.A. from Ohlone College: B.A. and M.S. degree from California State University, East Bay and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. She serves as an educator, consultant and teacher coach, which provides professional development, curriculum development and multicultural awareness services to local and international educational institutions and corporations. Dr. Pérez is fluent in Spanish and began her career as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual classroom. In the past two decades, she has developed a wide range of experience working at every level of public education, providing support to educators and directly to students. Her interest focus on promoting educational excellence through equity in order to overcome institutional barriers that confront underserved students of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Pérez is also an accomplished writer and has published in the areas of multicultural education and organizational management and leadership. She is a contributing author to Multicultural Education in Practice: Transforming One Community at a Time and Collaboration and Peak Performance: A Multidisciplinary Perspective for Emerging Leaders.

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