Summer Language Learning

August 19, 2009 at 8:03 am | Posted in Language Learning, Primary | Leave a comment
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This is a followup to my last post, Finding the Right Keys.

Last Monday I met with my student and I asked him about his weekend. He told me had been to the Madrid-Warner Bros park with his family. He told me a little, but after I did an image search for the park, we had a visual assistant to allow him to tell me which rides he went on and shows he saw. He described what he felt and saw, how his brother reacted on the rides, and which rides his mom and dad went on. After, he read the full page to me and again to our principal on his way out with his mom. The images provided a support to his expression, and with his strength in reading, he shared more than ever.

It reminded me of a book I read while an education student that had a great impact on me, Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner. It is a journal of her experience teaching New Zealand Maori children to read English by creating common language experiences. She took them outside and from these experiences they created a common English vocabulary they could use to writing and reading in books she created for them. My student isn’t nearly as culturally removed as those Maori children, but creating an atmosphere of trust and commonality is key to anyone taking risks. I think we’ll take the netbook out around campus this afternoon and see what else we can write about that can create connections and build vocabulary.

Any comments from actual ELL/ESL teachers will be appreciated!

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