Back to School with Second Language Learners in the Classroom by Lori Wolfe
by Lori Wolfe, Monthly Columnist
As we head back to our classroom and prepare for a new school year, many of us will find English Language Learners (ELLs) on our rosters. I would like to share some ideas used to establish a warm, and supportive learning environment for second language learners. As teachers we know that creating an safe and secure classroom environment includes such things as:
Ensure a sheltered and supportive classroom for second language learners by including:
Before school starts employ these easy strategies to connect second language learners with the classroom and make all students feel welcome and a member of your community.
Get to know your second language learners as school gets under way. Try to find out the basic facts about each second language learner in your class. Do you know whom they live with? How many siblings or relatives live with them in their home? How long has he/she lived in the country or was he/she born here? If the student comes from another country, which one? What town or city? What language(s) is spoken at home? What prior school experience does the student have? Are they literate in their first language?
A thought on newcomers: When I have newcomers (students new to my school or to the country) in my classroom I don’t forget to address a human basic need: safety! To make the students feel safe and secure assign a peer as the ELLs’ buddy. Choose peer buddies who know the school and can give the newcomers a tour of the school, rooms, offices, bathrooms and classrooms. The buddies introduce the newcomers to teachers, staff and aides who need to know that these students are limited or non-English speakers. This is the first step in providing my students with a safe environment.
What strategies and activities do you use to design a safe, secure learning environment for your second language learners? Please share your ideas with us!
About the Author
Lori Wolfe has taught English Language Development, bilingual 1st & 2nd grades, and as a Title I Reading and Math specialist. She also presents professional development workshops, develops curriculum and blogs. Follow her blogs at Fun To Teach ESL and Fun To Teach Math Blog for more great teaching ideas, tips, freebies and more. You can also find Fun To Teach on Facebook.