“Teachers must be creative and flexible, serve as a catalyst for discovery as students learn to operate effectively in their multiple worlds, be able to mediate and resolve intercultural conflicts, keep students on task, and serve as a support base”
Virginia Collier discusses the best strategies to help teachers with ESL and multilingual students, while addressing major issues within the schools when it comes to ESL. This chapter outlines 7 ways to help better teach ESL.
- Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language.
- Do not think of yourself as a remedial teacher expected to correct so called “deficiencies” of your students.
- Don’t teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language.
- Teach the standard form of English and students’ home language together with an appreciation of dialect differences to create an environment of language recognition in the classroom.
- Do not forbid young students from code-switching in the classroom. Understand the functions that code-switching serves.
- Provide a literacy development curriculum that is specifically designed for English language learners.
- Provide a balanced and integrated approach to the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Reading this article, I was imagining Delpit being a big advocator for this topic. Her theory of the rules and code of culture of power in relation to teaching ESL is striking. She wrote, “I believe in a diversity of style, and I believe the world will be diminished if cultural diversity is ever obliterated. Further, I believe strongly…that each cultural group should have the right to maintain it’s own language style” (Delpit, 39). It’s important for students to have an integrated learning experience when learning ESL because their first language is a part of who they are, they family, and their culture. It would be tragic to lose that because as Collier wrote “eradication has been tried and prove to be effective only to turn off students from schooling” (227).
Vaccaro, August, and Kennedy brought us the concept of incubators and outcubators (Safe Places, 84). I feel that the outcubator, where schools are a place that students learn new behaviors and ideas outside of their homes should incorporate some of their own culture.
Someone that I know had told me a story that I was reminded of when reading this article. His first language was Portuguese and the majority of his family only spoke Portuguese. He was not taught any English in the house and when he began schooling he was held back a grade because he struggled to learn the language. He began to get angry and embarrassed for being kept back a grade. He told me that when he became proficient in English he refused to speak any Portuguese. He hated the language and was angry that his family only spoke Portuguese. It took him a few years before he began to speak his family’s language but it had been a serious obstacle in his life. I thought about what it would have been like if he had a teacher that followed colliers rules. Would he have had the same experience? Probably not…