George Lucas Educational Foundation

Making Space for Native Languages in Newcomer Classrooms

When English language learners are given consistent opportunities to practice their home languages in class, their English proficiency flourishes—along with their sense of belonging and identity.

June 23, 2023

At Abraham Lincoln Middle School, in Selma, California, English language development teacher Efraín Tovar creates a vibrant classroom community for newcomers, immigrant students who have limited English proficiency. In Tovar’s class, students come from a wide range of countries—Mexico, Yemen, India, Egypt, Guatemala, and beyond—and he uses this diversity not only to create a safe and welcoming space for learning, but also to further develop and personalize each student’s English language learning curriculum. Tovar is an advocate for translanguaging, the practice of encouraging students to use all their linguistic resources to learn academic content and ultimately to be able to move fluently between two or more languages. 

Abraham Lincoln Middle School

Public, Suburban
Grades 7-8
Selma, CA

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Filed Under

  • English Language Learners
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching
  • 6-8 Middle School

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