Monday, September 26, 2011

Supporting English Learners

English Learners (nationally, the terminology has moved from ESL to ELL to now just EL) are continuing to become a very specialized group of patrons in our libraries. Our district has recently moved from the pull-out model to the coaching model for EL support and instruction, and the EL department at our central office has done a fantastic job of communicating effective ways to best assist English Learners in our schools.

Although the inclusion of bilingual literature in a collection is an essential way to meet the needs of EL students, I have noticed personally that many EL students prefer English-only books. This may be a cultural issue, the desire to conform, or it may simply be that there are more options in English-only. However, we should support our EL students with selections of bilingual literature in every genre of our collections.

-With their permission to share, here are some helpful links provided by our EL department regarding bilingual literature in school libraries:

*Scholastic Book Wizard can help with this as well. Here is an example of a search for "bilingual."

These are specific tips offered by the EL department for all educators in supporting the needs of English Learners:
1. Establish a classroom community that values and celebrates all languages and dialects. 
[Implications for librarians: include literature with a variety of dialects!]

2. Encourage parents to develop and maintain primary language at home. 
[Implications for librarians: provide translations of library documents and communication in native languages. There is a procedure in place for securing authentic translations from professionals at the central office level. For more info, see your EL Handbook!]

3. Offer primary language support through bilingual parent and community volunteers, peers, cross-age tutors, and extended day programs.

4. Learn and use some second language yourself with students. You don't have to be fluent. Just learn a few phrases and key vocabulary! 

5. Understand the differences between supporting and developing the primary language.
[Implications for librarians: celebrate a variety of cultures through creative programming!]

What are some ways you have provided language support for English Learners? Please share!


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