Bilingual students provide an interesting challenge to teachers. In some schools, bilingual instruction is required to help ensure that children learn the required subject matter, but also that they stay fluent in both of their languages. This provides the students with valuable skills later in life, but the teachers need to come up with specific strategies in order to teach the various subjects in two languages.
Study Units From Varying Thematic Approaches
An important part of bilingualism is often the varying cultures that exert influence on a student who is fluent in two languages. In a bilingual school, it is important that teachers in all subjects find ways to incorporate subject matter that relates to both of those cultures into their teaching. For example, in classes like history or social studies, units should be alternated so that the theme or focus comes from both cultures and languages, instead of only originating from a single point of view.
Monitoring Language Use
When you teach bilingual students, monitor the frequency with which you are relying on either language. Often, teachers fail to realize just how much they teach in a single language. This can slow down the child's development in everyday use of the other language. Keeping a careful record however allows teachers to see when they need to devote more time to instruction, in any subject, in the other language.
The Maintenance Method
When students do not yet have much English but need to learn the language in the classroom, the maintenance method works for some teachers. This method involves ensuring that students are up to par on skills in their initial language at first, and then starts teaching basic subject matter in that language. When the material is revisited, it will be taught in the second language, with supplemental language lessons designed to increase the language skills specifically.
Teachers in bilingual classroom tend to place focus on individual learners. Every student in a bilingual classroom will develop language skills in a slightly different way. The teacher must be constantly aware of this, and work with each student according to their needs in order to ensure that their language development is sufficient in both languages concurrently.
- The Education Alliance at Brown University: Language Support for Students in the Home and In School
- Course Crafters: One Classroom, Two Languages: Which Language When?
- The New York Times: The 3 Teaching Methods in Bilingual Class
- Intercultural Development Research Association: Success Using Bilingual Education
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