In the field of teaching ELL students, it is often said that these students face a double challenge: that of learning a second language and that of learning academic content. Some would say, however, that there is a third challenge involved, and that is learning how to adapt to a whole new culture.
An inspired idea for teaching ELL students
How do teachers accomplish so many goals in their classrooms? It takes a lot of expertise, a good amount of practical experience and daily doses of creativity. One school district in Louisiana has injected some of that creativity into teaching ELL students. In the Livingston Parish School system, the head of the ESL department has matched students in her program with neighboring high-school students for a school-sponsored mentoring program.
Each of the five high-school students in the pilot program is paired with an ELL student. They spend time getting to know each other, then reading together. Eventually, the meetings become opportunities for the ELL students to use their English skills to ask questions of the mentors. Questions range from cultural queries to things about school that they find puzzling or strange. It represents a very real context for practicing English and a context for learning the culture as well.
From a teacher’s point of view, the program succeeds because it helps fulfill all three ESL goals:
- improve English language learning of their students
- teach content knowledge
- help with cultural adaptation
How can teachers learn to juggle all three goals? After all, ELL teachers play the most important role in all three of those aspects of an ELL student’s school life. One great way to prepare is with a master’s in ESL.
How a master’s in ESL can help
This advanced degree will not only impart knowledge about teaching methodology, but also instill the fundamentals of language acquisition, learning theory, the latest research and linguistics as well. A master’s in ESL teaches that the profession is not just about language but also about teaching content knowledge, and the integration of the two. Students become familiar with research that backs up why this integration is important, and why it works better than traditional methods, where language learning was separated from the academic subjects. Upon graduation, teachers have a clear idea of how they will achieve all three of those goals for their students.
Learn about the LSUS M.Ed. in ESL online program.
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