Manaiakalani Community of schools have identified ' Language Acquisition' as one of the major challenge for our children to achieve academically. My personal thought is that this has become a major concern for us as most students in our community are 'Second Language Learners'. I have two- thirds of my students who are Second Language Learners because they speak English as their second language.
Usually this is suggested as a disadvantage because people feel that in order to learn something, second language learners have to first learn the language and then learn about the topic of their study. It is however, just the opposite. There is evidence to suggest that competent bilinguals - those with good skills in two languages- have several advantages over monolinguals. The McGill University Psychologists Lambert and Peal (1962) have suggested that where there is good Literacy development in both languages, bilinguals on average score more than monolinguals in verbal and non- verbal tests of intelligence. Being a bilingual is a bonus. But most bilingual children are at a disadvantage in school because they have to learn in their second language which is mostly their weaker language.
I want to have a very supportive classroom environment for my students right from the beginning of this year. This would be where they can take risk in a stress free environment. This would be a non- threatening environment where students can participate without affecting their self-esteem.
So what will I do to make this happen...
1. Provide a comfortable learning environment
Students in my class will feel confident to 'have a go' without fear of failure. I would support them by encouraging them to share their ideas even if it is n broken English, have sentences or even words. I would respond positively as it is an important factor in enhancing the learner's self esteem and developing their confidence.
2. Planned integration of content and Language.
I will plan my lessons in a way that allows the use of new words learnt in other areas of the curriculum.
3. Plan for meaningful interactions through collaborative Practice and problem solving.
I will plan and motivate my students to engage on activities that will encourage them to use the language. I would make opportunities for students to not just be at the receiving end but give responsibilities for their own learning.
4. Modelling of Language
Children will not just hear language that is simple and comprehendible but also extends their use of language. This would also be provided by making plans where simple rules of English Language will be taught to the students on a weekly basis.
5. Frequent opportunities for Teacher and student Interactions.
There is high degree of quality interactions with the Teacher.