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ELL Parents

Homepage Forums Brain-Based Learning Q&A ELL Parents

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    • #43944

      What advice can I give to ELL parents about to help their child (children) at home?

    • #43954
      Erik Smith

      Greetings Maricela,
      Reaching out to the families is a wise initiative on your part. Anything that can be done at home to help facilitate language acquisition and help narrow the vocabulary deficit is critical to future schooling success. With that said, I would recommend advising your parents as follows:
      1. Look to use picture books, fiction and nonfiction, that readily associate words/meaning with the images portrayed on each page. Seek out high quality picture books, such as authors like Chris Van Alsburg, or Scholastic science books. A great source of literary references and reading strategies is Dr. Frank Serafini’s website.
      2. Search out high-quality ELL picture dictionaries that pair images with words in a purposeful manner. These allow for easy practice.
      3. Outline practice sessions that parents can readily incorporate in their daily routines. These sessions should reflect Brain Based practices that help facilitate memory formation, work with various of cycles of the brain, and are not overly time consuming for the learner. For example, outline a plan that focuses on 15 minute practice sessions that is followed by 45 minutes of movement based activities. Suggest to practice three times a day. This could be paired with a journal to record words that are mastered and when they were mastered.
      4. Discuss the use of the student’s primary language at home. Is it a mix or a focus on just one? If so, is it the primary language the one learned in school. Research suggests that exposure to dual languages at home, like Spanglish interferes with a learner obtaining mastery of the primary learning language at school. As such, listening to audio books or a podcast may help with transfer.

    • #63306
      Alicia Alvarez-Calderón

      Building literacy in the first language is critical for students’ success in learning their second language. I would advice parents to be patience, it can take from 5 to 7 years to learn the academic language needed (in their second language) to be successful in school. Never stop reading to their children in their native language. If they don’t have the support at school, meaning a bilingual program, they should continue literacy in their native language as much as possible at home. A good reference for this topic is the work by Dr. Wayne Thomas and dr. Virginia Collier. Here is their website:
      FYI, codeswitching or translanguaging, commonly known as “Spanglish” is very natural among bilingual individuals and does not indicate any type of deficit in language. Some linguists focusing on this topic are Dr. Kathy Escamilla and Dr. Ofelia Garcia.

    • #69624
      Angelica Martinez

      I just started the process of becoming a certified bilingual K-6 teacher. One of the classes I’m taking is all about the research behind ELL and the incredible benefits of it. My husband and I are first generation immigrants from Spanish speaking countries. We have three amazing second generation US born children and we struggle to maintain the Spanish language in the house with them. We did not registered them in the dual language program out of fear. We did not want them to be excluded or segregated. We were afraid that they would have a hard time fitting in with Anglo children if they greow up in a Hispanic only environment. Now that I’m learning all this wonderful information about the two-way bilingual program, brain development, gap closing between 5th and 8th grade, higher achievement in higher grades compared to monolingual native speakers; I feel like I robed my children from an amazing opportunity. My suggestion for your ELL parents is that you keep on informing them about the amazing benefits their children are going to obtain from being in this program. If they understand this, they will do anything you ask of them because they will be your number one fans supporting any of your ideas. Remember that most immigrants are here because they want to give their children a better future; what better than all the benefits of growing up bilingual.

    • #69639

      I work with 100% ELL parents. I teach bilingual so all of my parents have seen the value of their children being bilingual, but as anyone there are moments when they doubt that they are doing the best thing for their students. When it comes to home language it is crucial that the children maintain that language. Not only for the multitude of education and overall benefits of being bilingual, but because students will need that language to be an active participant with their family and most likely their community.

      Keep in mind that parents do not always have all of the best information. Some parents believe that taking away their native language from their child is what is best for them. WRONG! However, if parents were more informed they would make better decisions, because 99.9% of parents want what is best for their students.

      A great way to help ELL parents, even if there is a language barrier is the library. Depending on where you live libraries are an amazing resource. Librarians are brilliant people and they know the literary needs of the community. Also librarians and libraries are open to getting the resources that the community needs. Sometimes they even offer free English classes for parents.

      Also, getting a bilingual person to help make that connection between the two languages will keep bilingual parents involved in the school. If you are not on a bilingual campus I understand that will be difficult, but doing as much as you can to make your climate warm and welcoming regardless of language will even help parents come to you when they need your advice.

      When it comes to getting English support at home with parents who do not know English this can be a challenge. This is where technology can play a huge role. For younger children exposure to the language alone will help them academically. Encourage parents to push that home language and home and then maybe let them get some screen time in English to work on some school skills.

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