****Shout out & a round of applause to all teachers, coaches, school personnel, and all educators that have are working through emergency remote teaching/distance learning.
As teachers figure out how to make online distance learning work for them and for their students, I have been asked the question What can I do to support my ELs during online distance learning? There are four main ways that I think can be used online while keeping time constraints in mind.
A,ll students are academic language learners! All teachers are academic language teachers! It is necessary for students to have a solid grasp on the language of math to ensure that students have a deep understanding of the mathematics. Mathematics is not a universal language and in order to make mathematics accessible for ALL students educators need to spend time helping students develop their academic language. Explicit vocabulary needs to take place before, during, or after each math lesson.
Scaffolds are temporary supports that students practice using to support their learning & understanding. Scaffolds are meant to be temporary and students should internalize the strategy they have practiced to such a degree it becomes a permanent fixture of their toolkit.
It is not unusual for conversations about bilingual learners to focus on the challenges and figuring out how to help these students. It is often a deficit based approach and the focus is on trying to "fix" a problem. A more effective way to support student learning is to take an asset based approach. Our bilingual learners have "bilingual superpowers" that they can use to take ownership of their own learning & teachers can activate in order to lower students' affective filter and maximize their learning.
Many of our emerging bilingual students are simultaneous bilingual students because they have been exposed to more than one language by the time they are three years old. These students enter school with some BICS (basic personal interpersonal communication skills) and have a foundation in their Language 1 to gain CALP (cognitive academic language proficiency) in their Language 2 (English).
One of the most effective ways to support English Learners and all academic language learners (ALLs) is to SWiRL lessons. Our students need continuous and varied opportunities to to speak, write, read, an listen numerous times in a class period. For maximum impact, these opportunities to use the four language domains should also include opportunities for students to interact with the teacher and other students students. By "swirling" lessons students will be able to fully engage in understanding the content being taught and they will work on developing their English language & academic language. Any "good" task can be made a great task by swirling it! There is no kit, program, or quick fix that can support student learning more than SWiRL.