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Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classr
Transcript of Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classr
Young ELLs need time to catch up to monolinguals
Differences exist among children based on age and amount of exposure to the two languages
Children use knowledge of one language to learn a second language
Effective Preschool Programs
Characteristics of Young English Language Learners
Design instruction that focuses on all of the foundational literacy skills
Activities may include:
Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classroom
Research has found that in order for a preschool program to be effective for ELLs, it must be effective for all students.
Components of an effective program:
Highly qualified teachers
Attends to needs of students, families and the community
Low student/teacher ratios
Engaging and thoughtful interactions
(Laosa & Ainsworth, 2007)
Funds of Knowledge
Often referred to as Dual Language Learners.
Still developing in their native language while also learning English.
Scenario 1: Jean
Jean is a 5 year old Haitian-Creole/ English dual language learner. Jean spoke no English when he entered Head Start two years ago, but has learned a lot over the past couple of years. Jean feels comfortable speaking English in the classroom and with his peers during outside time and classroom activities. He’s building vocabulary and his grasp of the English language is steadily improving.
Meet with Jean’s family on an ongoing basis and support his home language development.
Create learning experiences which allow Jean to use vocabulary and make meaningful connections across instructional activities.
Use pictures or real objects when introducing new vocabulary words or concepts to help Jean make connections.
Pre-teach Jean new vocabulary words before a lesson using those words. Introduce the new words before a learning experience or reading a book and provide developmentally appropriate definitions. Children’s dictionaries can be great resources for developing definitions.
Provide Jean opportunities to creatively express the meanings of words.
Jean’s father shared that he loves dramatic play; use his interests to support his language development.
Nissa is a 4 year-old Hebrew/ English dual language learner. The center staff has learned from her family that Nissa speaks only Hebrew at home. During the first few days, Nissa tried to speak Hebrew to her new teachers, but has fallen silent after they were not able to respond to her. Her frustration with the new language environment is growing and the teachers often observe her to be somewhat upset and withdrawn.
Aniese is a 4 year old Spanish/ English dual language learner. She has been in the Head Start program for almost five months. Her teacher has noticed that Aniese has begun to develop many words in English and seems to show basic comprehension by following directions and responding to simple questions with basic answers. She has also been heard repeating simple phrases such as “gonna go”.
Ask Nissa’s family to share and/or tape- record some key words in Hebrew.
Set aside a quiet space in the classroom where Nissa can go when she needs a break.
Create classroom routines which allow Nissa to anticipate upcoming activities without understanding the language; for example, make the classroom schedule with pictures and use it to help Nissa visualize the day.
Use gestures and pointing to help Nissa understand new content and try to match gesture to vocabulary (eating, drinking).
Model language by narrating actions using self-talk strategies, “I am using this red crayon to color in this big circle,” and explicitly use parallel talk to narrate Nissa’s actions,“Nissa, you are using the paintbrush to paint your circle green.”
Repeat new vocabulary, ideas, and instruction by re-using words with their definitions and repeating instructions in shorter, simpler sentences.
Create ways for Nissa to participate in activities in a non-verbal way (clapping, playing instruments).
Create interesting centers with creative materials (art supplies, musical instruments, etc.) which give Aniese opportunities to practice her oral language skills and express herself creatively.
Meet with Aniese’s family to learn her language background and develop ways to support her home language.
Use pictures and real world objects to teach Aniese basic words like “paintbrush,” “marker” and “book”. Ask her family to share the same words in their home language.
Help Aniese make meaningful connections to new vocabulary and content being taught by helping her find ways to connect her personal experiences to new content.
Ask Aniese’s mother to share information about her experiences, background and interests.
Try to pair Aniese with peers who speak Spanish.
Label objects and areas of the room with Spanish words.
Learns two languages at home from birth
Speaks one language at home from birth
Learns English later in life (usually when entering preschool)
Often demonstrate a language imbalance
Follow a four step developmental sequence
Provide explicit, systematic instruction in vocabulary
Children require multiple exposures to words in order to develop a rich understanding of their meaning and use. Teachers should make a point of introducing interesting new words for children to learn into each classroom activity (Tabors, 2008).
Expose ELLs to rich language input
Exposure to rich language, whether through reading or teacher talk, has been shown to enhance children's oral language development (Aukrust, 2007).
Provide ELLs with ample opportunities to talk with both adults and peers and provide ongoing feedback and encouragement.
English language learners need lots of opportunities to engage in social interactions with other children, but they also need support from adults as they develop the language skills they need to negotiate those interactions (Ballantyne et al., 2008).
Structure the classroom space and routine to provide scaffolding for ELLs' language learning.
Arrange the classroom in a way that supports each type of instructional activity that will take place; keep changes to the environment to a minimum.
interactive storybook reading
"pretend" reading and writing
games and other activities to help children identify the letters of the alphabet
interactive experiences with language and print through poems, nursery rhymes and songs
Recognize that literacy skills can transfer across languages
Developing literacy skills in English will be easier for children who already have developed some literacy skills in their home language. Parents who are not proficient in English should be encouraged to help support their children’s learning at home by using the home language to:
teach rhymes and songs
play word games
Accelerate English literacy development by helping ELLs make the connection between what they know in their L1 and what they need to know in English.
A Closer Look...
Teachers of young ELLs should tap into the funds of knowledge that parents and families possess and use this knowledge as a basis for instruction
Literacy practices in the home
Topics of discussion with parents and children
Key Points to Remember
Aukrust, V. G. (2007). Young children acquiring second language vocabulary in preschool group time: Does amount, diversity, and
discourse complexity of teacher talk matter? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22, 17-38.
Barone, D., & Xu, S. H. (2008). Literacy instruction for English language learners Pre-K-2. New York: The Guilford Press.
Espinosa, L. & Lopez, M. (2007). Assessment considerations for young English language learners across different levels of
accountability. The National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force.
Ford, Karen. (2010). 8 strategies for preschool ELLs' language and literacy development. Retrieved from
Gillanders, C. (2007). An English-speaking prekindergarten teacher for young Latino children: Implications for the teacher-child
relationship on second language learning. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 47-54.
Laosa, L. & Ainsworth, P. (2007). Is public pre-k preparing Hispanic children to succeed in school? National Institute for Early
Education Research: New Brunswick, NJ.
Tabors, P. (1998). What early childhood educators need to know: Developing effective programs for linguistically and culturally
diverse children and families. Young Children, 53(6), 20–26.
Tabors, P. O. (2008). One child, two languages: A guide for early childhood educators of children learning English as a second
language (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
(Espinosa & Lopez, 2007)
Discussions between parents and teachers
Information from children
Consult community members/volunteers about the culture
Home Language Use
Formulaic and Telegraphic Speech