English Language Learners

3 March 2017

It may be that both their parents work long hours and cannot help with homework, or they may be required to babysit brothers and sisters until late each evening, making it difficult to complete all of the assigned homework. The important point to remember is that any individual student presents a profile of aptitudes and abilities in subject areas and skills, and that this is true for students who are learning English as much as for native English speakers. However, the student who is learning English will have more trouble in expressing his or her level of understanding and capabilities in the second language, English.

All children bring unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the classroom. ELL students’ diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds can offer many resources for the entire classroom including: ·Information — about other countries and their cultures, customs, and resources; ·New perspectives — about the world, about society, about beliefs; and ·Opportunities — for exposure to other languages, for sharing ways of thinking and doing things that might otherwise be taken for granted.

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When the information, perspectives, and opportunities offered by the presence of students from other language and cultural backgrounds are used as a resource for instruction, the whole class benefits. Students build awareness of other points of view and other ways of understanding and, consequently, come to learn more about themselves. As a classroom teacher, you can develop approaches and practices for working with ELL students that will allow you to include them in instruction with English speaking students.

Through your experience, you are able to work with students who differ in levels of ability, in areas of strength, and in special skills or aptitudes. English language learners bring to the classroom new areas of differences, but your experience in working with diversity among English speaking students will apply to these students as well. An important first step, however, is to understand the differences that you will observe.

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