McLean's Brain

English Language Learners: A STEP in the right direction.

The school that I teach at has a great deal of English Language Learners. About thirty percent of the students come from a family where English is the second language in the home. At this point in my career, I am teaching Physical Education. Though demanding on it own level, I often wonder how challenging it would be to teach the English language to the school's ELL population. It must be almost as scary for the teacher as it is for the new student. Luckily my Reading Part 1 class has come to the rescue.

Where to Look?

Our course readings showed us three excellent documents from the Ministry of Education.

Extending My Knowledge

As one of our assignments we have to answer questions posted by our colleagues/classmates. A question I chose to answer was "How can we try to best accommodate for a new ELL student in the classroom?" Once I started thinking about it, I decided I wanted to look at some sort of diagnostic assessment, so that I would be able to meet the needs of this student. The question was, Where should I start? Our school has a half-time ESL teacher, so that would be my first stop to visit. At my previous school, we had no support. So what then?

Taking the Right "STEPS"

After Googling the Web for a few minutes, I came upon this Edugains site.

It contains information on the STEP initial language assessment, that can assist teachers who need to assess new English Language Learners. There is a great deal of information on the site, so I focused on one area that I thought would be beneficial

The STEP initial assessment is a step-by-step (pun intended) users guide that can assist with the first time assessment process. It provides suggestions for welcoming new families, has interview questions to assess oral language, and also has some early literacy tasks to help paint a picture of the needs of the student.

One of the other documents on the site, STEP Steps to English Proficiency A Guide for Users, has some great strategies to assist all English Language Learners.

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The site also contains several videos and monographs related to English Language Learning. Take your own tour, I am sure you will find something beneficial.

Parent Engagement

One other question I thought about regarding English Language Learners was "How can I get the family involved?" Tough question. The link below to the Ontario Ministry of education provides ideas for parents in several languages. This links to the English Version:

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But when you click on one of the tabs...
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That is so cool.

Just like students who may come from different backgrounds and speak different languages, this is a journey full of new discoveries and probably some obstacles that we will need to overcome. These new resources and knowledge that I now have will make me better prepared for future challenges, and will hopefully help my students as well.