No matter which acronym you use, the number of U.S. students who don’t speak English as their first language is on the rise. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of U.S. public school children who spoke a language other than English at home jumped from 3.8 to 10.8 million between 1979 and 2007. That means that more than 20% of students nationwide between the ages of 5 and 17 are learning English as a foreign language. Unlike several decades ago, students learning English aren’t confined to urban school districts, either. In our bucolic suburb, for example, my second grader’s school services students speaking 17 different languages other than English, while another K-3 elementary school in town contends with 24 different languages. That’s a lot of ESL students to educate, and an heroic effort by the ESL teachers. I’m sure this percentage pales in comparison with many other school districts.
To attain proficiency in English, students must work hard to master reading, writing, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and a host of other topics across the curriculum. While most students learning English are pulled out of their classrooms for intensive work with ESL teachers, regular classroom teachers also have to find ways to communicate with and teach their students who are learning English. Many schools have increased the number of visual cueing materials in their classrooms, such as the inclusion of bilingual posters and labels on common classroom materials and objects.
This week’s picks focus on free resources to help students who are learning English. All the resources are from MisCositos, a site that offers a variety of materials for teaching English, Spanish, French, Thai, and other languages. Lori Langer de Ramirez, founder of MisCositas, initially created the site as part of her doctoral dissertation. She is currently Chairperson of the ESL and World Language Department for Herricks Public Schools in New York.
Grades: Beginning ESL
ABC English is a 26-chapter “worktext” for beginning English Language Learners. It offers language set in real-world dialogues while grammar is addressed in a communicative framework. The booklet contains a variety of activities and comprehension questions that test students’ understanding and application of the vocabulary and structures presented in each chapter. The worktext is 153 pages.
ESL License Plate Game
Grades: all ELL students
Great game for students. These sheets can be printed, laminated back-to-back, and brought in the car for road trips. Students can learn state names and icons, capital cities, and other information. Bring along a travel atlas to add geography support. Way better than “Punch-bug”!
Songs for ELLs
Grades: all ELL students
This 26-page booklet contains lyrics to popular songs that are appropriate and useful for English Language Learners. Photos of the musical groups or singers are included, and musical genres range from folk to rock to alternative. A good supplemental resource to help teach vocabulary, grammar, and culture.