George Lucas Educational Foundation

Should be have ELL classrooms

Should be have ELL classrooms

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I taught ELL for two years before having children and often times I wondered whether it was really necessary to have ELL classrooms at all. Let me explain. During my two years teaching many of my students came in speaking little to no English. By the end of the year the students left my classroom speaking if not reading English, and often one other language present in my classroom. My Spanish-speaking students were picking up on Kurdish. With Spanish on the rise in the USA, would it not be beneficial to have our ELL students in the classroom with our English-speaking students. Our English-speaking students could be learning from our ELL students and starting to acquire their languages. While at the same time our ELL students could be learning English from our English speakers. Why do we wait until high school to start teaching foreign language, when the prime time for learning another language is when you are young. Thoughts and ideas would be appreciated.

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Nancy Jacobs's picture
Nancy Jacobs
ELL teacher for grades 9-12 at Norfolk, NE.

I've been teaching ELL for 16 years. I agree that we need to integrate the ELLs in the regular classes, but sometimes it is nice to spend some time with them and deal with ELL issues without anyone else around. I can't see throwing in a culture-shocked ELL students into to all English classes for him/her to sink or swim.

I absolutely agree about teaching languages to younger children. The window for kids to absorb languages is when they're prescool-kindergarten age. The longer you wait after that, the harder it will be for them to learn another language.

Our district starts foreign language at 8th grade. Imagine if they started in, say, 5th grade. By high school they could write blogs or letters, or do whole presentations in another language.

Foreign language improves analytical skills, and fires up neurons that aren't used otherwise. How can we possibly say no to doing that for our students?

And, of course, learning a foreign language is different than learning a language as an ELL who's already surrounded by the language.

Just some thoughts.

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