Showing posts with label ELL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ELL. Show all posts

The Growing Divide for ELLs

Language
It is not surprising that ELLs have a language divide and that depending on when they arrived in the United States this divide will impact their lives to a lesser or greater degree.  I have been in the U.S. since I was nine and even though English has become my main language, I will always be an ELL.  It doesn't affect my reading or listening, but my speaking and my writing continue to be a challenge especially if I am nervous.  I remember in college when I got nervous my English accent would get more pronounced and I would struggle to pronounce everyday words although they were part of my common usage. Now I still struggle to express myself when I get nervous, my ideas are clear in my head, but what comes out gets all jumbled up.  Especially if I am speaking among natives and they start looking at me like they can't understand what I am saying, then the nervousness increases and I need a translator to make my point. As for many ELLs this is my divide.

Using Technology
Thanks to a colleague I worked with when I first graduated from the university, technology has not been a divide for me.  My technology skills have actually opened doors for me and allowed me to travel around the U.S. training others.  This is why I am such a strong proponent of empowering ELL students with technology skills.  Although ELLs might, like me, struggle to improve the language divide, if we give them the opportunities to use technology to learn content they have a chance to have career opportunities they might not otherwise have.

Creating Technology
All students in public education are facing another divide, the divide between those students who know how to use technology and those who know how to create technology.  Private school students are benefitting from STEAM programs where they are designing using technology.  Although public schools are starting to bring in STEAM programs, many are focusing only on STEM and still focusing only on the students that are mathematically inclined to leave out those who are not, many of those girls, underprivileged students and of course ELLs.
So now ELLs have 3 barriers against them to be successful in school: language, lack of technology and creating technology skills.
As educators, we can make a difference in ELL students lives and help close these divides. Let's prepare ELLs for a bright future in the 21st Century.
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Read Write Think-Excellent Young English Learner Site


I am always looking for ways to use online resources to teach English to kids. I discovered the Read Write Think website when I was teaching my 3rd grade English learners.  The first section I started using was their Letter generator because learning the parts of a friendly letter was a 3rd grade standard in California.

Read Write Think has many such online activities that are easy for kids learning english to practice their English language skills. One that I have also used effectively with my ELL's is the Comic Generator to practice Dialogue.  My students also used it to practice different grammar exercises.  For example we used it to practice have to, must and have got to.  When they finish kids can print their comic strips to share with the class or save them as a PDF’s and email them to you.  These are just two of the many interactives that are available in this site.

For teachers teaching English the site also has Lesson Plans and a wonderful section for Professional Development with Guides for Persuasive Writing, Choral Reading, Making Connections and many more.  Additionally the site has webinars and E-workshops for many strategies.

Check it out it is a wonderful resource for teaching English to kids and come back and share some of the ways that you or Young Learners have used it.

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Starfall.com




Starfall is a great online free software that allows kids to learn to read in English with phonics in a fun way.  It has great graphics and activities. The animations and sounds are wonderful.  One of the features is the English alphabet where students can learn both the name of the letter and it's sound as well as pictures of words that have that sound in them and even simple games to test what they have learned.


As children learn the different letters they can progress through learning English words with other phonics sounds. For children that are emergent English readers Starfall has simple stories that children can read on their own and for words they can't read or pronounce it gives them the opportunity to click and have the words read to them. Starfall has different sections which children can progress through or can start on depending on their English level. The more advanced section has plays, nonfiction reading, comics and more.  The best thing about Starfall is that children enjoy it and if they are having fun they are learning.


My daughter began to use Starfall when she was two when the only language she knew was Spanish.  Starfall helped her develop her English vocabulary.  By the time she was 6 years old she was reading at 4th grade level (in part thanks to Starfall.)  She loved listening to the phonics songs and listening to the phonics books.  She still enjoys going to Starfall for its poems and activities. 

I used Starfall with my 1st grader English Learners who where having a difficulty with reading and they love it.  It gave them a chance to learn new English words and practice reading the words they new how to read while supporting them with those they didn't know.  They also loved the animations and the games.

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