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Teaching strategies that support students who are learning the language of instruction in multilingual and bilingual classrooms

Sun, April 14, 1:45 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific O

Group Submission Type: Pre-conference Workshop


Recently, many early grade learning programs have turned to teaching in a local language or “mother tongue” as research increasingly demonstrates that children learn to read best in a language they speak and understand. This has led to a welcomed shift in policy from the former trend to teach children exclusively in an international language from the start (frequently English or French). However, many policies and education stakeholders assume that the language of instruction, if it is a local language, is indeed one that children speak and understand. Too often, though, it is not. In some areas, there is such a remarkable linguistic diversity, it would simply be unaffordable and impractical to attempt to develop teaching and learning materials for each language. And in some areas, there are diverse populations coming together in a school community, bringing several home languages to each classroom. Multilingual classrooms are increasingly the norm across the world. One theme that unifies all the contexts is that regardless of policies, program models, or languages, there is a need to have purposeful instructional techniques that value and promote students’ home languages (if not actively teach them, use them as a bridge) and explicitly teach additional languages through teaching subjects such as reading and math that are the curricular expectation. Supporting all children to learn will render interventions to improve reading and math outcomes more sustainable in that communities and schools will see their value in their classrooms.

This workshop will introduce participants to second language teaching methodology appropriate for early grade learners in multilingual reading and math classes. By the end of the workshop, participants will be familiar with the basic principles of second language acquisition, will be able to demonstrate activities that support second language learners, and will be able to describe best practice for multilingual classrooms. We will discuss definitions of multilingual and bilingual, and participants will learn techniques for both. The use of a decision tool to understand in what contexts these techniques are most applicable will be discussed.

The workshop will begin with a game that allows participants to become familiar with second language acquisition principles using a jigsaw technique that is useful for teaching content to second language learners. Next, participants will experience what it feels like to be a second language learner in a short Japanese lesson about igneous rocks with a debrief to reflect on the various techniques the instructor used. Participants will then learn about the SIOP model for teaching second language learners in the content classroom and discuss how those strategies can be adapted to work in the participants’ contexts. Bilingual teaching techniques will be demonstrated, and participants will discuss what makes those techniques distinct from the other techniques already experienced. At the end of the workshop, a decision tool will be presented that helps implementers select the most appropriate interventions according to the linguistic characteristics of the school communities.

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