Showing Is Telling
Post submitted by Ayanna Cooper, who works in the field of English as a second language teaching and learning and is a member of ASCD's Emerging Leaders Class of 2010. Cooper is also a past president of Georgia TESOL, an adjunct instructor, and an advocate for English language learners.
For middle-grades students, learning English as a new language and adjusting to their new environment and school schedule can be quite a challenge but is not impossible. For teachers, knowing where their students' academic language proficiency is helping them learn and become part of the school community is crucial. Increasing bilingual resources provided to students and their families is extremely beneficial.
Socially we can support them through extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, and mentoring programs. For example, students may play on the school's soccer team and perform well as an athlete. It provides another way for them to draw on other experiences that allow them to "show" versus "tell" what they know and can do.
What cultural and linguistic factors contribute to the development of English learners who are middle graders? What other ways can we support them both socially and academically?