E-Mail: intlprac@bc.edu or SKYPE us: bc.prac.office

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Teaching Reading for English Language Learners in Ecuador

            This semester at my university in Cumbaya, Ecuador I am taking a Bilingualism class. The class has been a very unique experience because I am taking it in a Spanish-speaking country. It’s also unique because most of the students in my class have learned English in full-immersion bilingual programs. For my final project, I chose to explore the most effective strategies for teaching reading in a second language. With the archive of articles from my Bilingualism class and many hours spent in an English full-immersion first grade classroom, I compared what the research recommends with applied practice.
            The reading curriculum at Colegio Menor, is written by Jo Fitzpatrick in 1998, is called Reading strategies that work! Helping young readers develop independent reading skills. The book is organized into 10 sections: introduction, description of the reading process, teaching reading strategies, using bookmark picture prompts, parent involvement, a strategy chart, activities (for pre-emergent, emergent, early fluent and fluent readers), culminating activities, resources and reproducibles. The most prominent commonality that I found in the research, Colegio Menor’s reading curriculum and what I observed at Colegio Menor was explicit instruction of reading strategies. For example, through explicit instruction, my teacher taught three strategies to make sense of unknown words. The first is Stretchy Snake, which suggests to “stretch” the letters of a word to understand each sound (ccc-aaa-ttt for cat). The second is Lips the Fish, which recommends focusing on the first sound of a word (ccc for cat). After trying and failing to pronounce a word, the third strategy, Tryin’ Lion, tells the students to think about works that they already know about the given topic. For example, if a student can’t pronounce the word house, he should think about what the sentence is trying to say by using prior knowledge and pictorial clues to help him recognize the word house. Explicit instruction for second language learners is fundamental to their learning of reading and writing. However, the research stresses that when educators are too heavily dependent on explicit instruction for code-based skills it can hinder a meaningful learning experience. I was happy to see that Colegio Menor has a good balance between teaching explicit code-based skills and leading authentic and meaningful lessons to best support their learning.
          Reading about suggested strategies to best teach English Language Learners made me much more aware of what I’ll need to consider in the classroom when I become a teacher. English Language Learners need a lot of support. This support is needed in a variety of skillsets that aid in literacy, which poses the logistical problem of finding time to best do this in a conventional classroom. My cooperating teacher is very thoughtful in her lesson planning to balance the necessary code-based exercises with meaningful oral and written expressions of language. She builds the core building blocks of the English language while challenging the students to communicate with one another even though they haven’t developed all of the necessary skills yet. Student teaching in a first grade classroom has been especially interesting to me since first grade is the year in which students need to master basic literacy. One of the biggest takeaways about teaching reading as a second language is that reading and writing consists of a combination of abilities that can be expressed in a variety of ways. Consequentially, it’s necessary to be cognizant of these abilities and give students the opportunity to learn and be evaluated in a variety of ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.