February 13, 2016
This is one of my favorite characters. Ziva David. Fluent in several languages,yet often experiencing breakdowns in communication. I can relate to her. At some point, I have been in those situations. Same goes for some of my students. If you teach English Language Learners, you may not be aware that even if they sound like their peers, they may be out of their depth with academic vocabulary. Have you ever stopped to think how many meanings words such as “mean” or “claim” can have depending on the context? Both words are used in school every day. In Math and English, “mean” can be at least three different things: average, malicious, definition. From reading about “staking a claim” in history books to learning to identify a claim in Chemistry, students can have a difficult time processing the information because the input they receive is not easily comprehensible. Often times, key concepts are linked to understanding terms that confuse the student.
Someone said that language is the dress of thought. I often see that language is the vessel of thought, and without comprehensible language input, the student will certainly be left stranded, unable to keep up with the class, feeling like giving up. With his or her affective filter up, the student is not able to learn, let alone acquire a second language. Recently, I attended SIOP training (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol), which I highly recommend to teachers of all subjects. I immediately used in my classes several strategies I learned there. They were very engaging, got my students moving, thinking, applying and producing evidence of learning in writing, using the target functional language structures in their interactions…in Spanish. Yes, I am a Spanish teacher, and SIOP is not just for ELL…if you have a chance to go to this training, I believe you will learn to more effectively reach all your students. If you cannot go, speak to a colleague who has. You won’t regret it!