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ENGLISH LEARNING FOR NONNATIVE CHILDREN AROUND THE
WORLD: SHOULD IT BE “SINK OR
SWIM” APPROACH?
By
Majida Mehana, Ph.D.
Rationale for Paper
п‚— It is estimated that the population of English
Language Learners (ELLs) outnumbers the English
monolinguals internationally three to one.
п‚— Teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in early
childhood has become a practice in many countries.
п‚— The purpose of this paper was to synthesize findings
of studies that addressed teaching EFL in early
childhood and to draw implications for curriculum
development.
9/23/2014
Schools and Bilingual Education
п‚— The school is the meso level where acculturation and
practicing bilingualism are taking place.
п‚— Successful bilingual teachers see themselves, peers,
and cultural tools as mediators for bilingualism.
п‚— As the mediator, the teacher faces issues with regards
to the design of the bilingual curriculum, methods of
teaching, the classroom setup, communication with
children, and interaction with parents.
9/23/2014
Curriculum Design-1
п‚— In a bilingual classroom, the home language (L1) and
the English language (L2) are taught in addition to
activities in math, science, arts, music and movement,
and free play.
п‚— Activities need to be conducted in both languages.
п‚— Children in alternate immersion programs where the
day was divided in two halves, each entirely in one
language, scored higher on achievement tests than
students in other types of bilingual programs or total
immersion in the second language .
9/23/2014
Curriculum Design-2
п‚— Authors recommended setting a plan for bilingual
education based on a comparison between
developmental speech norms of the native language
and English.
п‚— Vocabulary used in L1 and L2 needs to be taught
systematically. Literacy skills such as pronunciation,
vocabulary, fluency could be taught through songs.
п‚— Integrated oral and written approach yielded greater
gains in children’s oral language development than
the oral-only instruction.
п‚— Phonics need to be blended with whole language
programs because the English orthography is not
phonetic.
9/23/2014
Methods of Teaching-1
п‚— Extended sessions, recasts, extended discussions,
activities that target multiple intelligences, signs and
cues, and translators are some of the techniques/tools
that the teacher could draw upon in dual language
programs.
п‚— The teacher should inquire about the characteristics of
the home language as some L1 skills are transferable to
L2.
п‚— Teachers need to know evidence based instructional
approaches for bilingual education and use extended
sessions as needed.
9/23/2014
Methods of Teaching -2
п‚— Authors recommended that adults increase the
number of recasts for children with lower expressive
skills.
п‚— Head start teachers in the US used signs, picture cues,
and adult or child translators .
п‚— Other teachers allowed extended discussions about
books.
п‚— Dry drills are not recommended because they are not
developmentally appropriate.
9/23/2014
Peers and Bilingual Development
п‚— It is important to consider the affective and social nature
of second language learning for successful learning to
occur .
п‚— Peers can play an important role in enhancing
bilingualism as they are a major part of the social scene
at school in addition to the teacher.
п‚— L1 and L2 teachers should create meaningful activities
for children.
п‚— The language proficiency level, the context, the task and
the materials, and the type of grouping and role
distribution need to be planned for optimal benefit of
the peer groupings.
9/23/2014
Classroom Setup and Bilingualism
п‚— Teachers are the engineers of the environment and they
could direct the class in positive or negative ways.
 Teachers respond to children’s needs by alternating
between teaching and attending to children’s ideas, thus
allowing space for children to develop.
п‚— In safe and enriched literacy environments, bilingual
children construct simultaneous worlds and develop
their identities by switching between home
culture/language and surrounding English environment.
9/23/2014
Schools and the Family Context
п‚— Having two languages at home should be balanced so
the home identity and culture are preserved.
п‚— Teachers should encourage parents to read to
children.
п‚— Parents who are not fluent in English need help to
successfully communicate with English teachers.
п‚— Older siblings can act as mediators between the
teacher and the younger sibling.
9/23/2014
Implications for Preservice Training
п‚— The preservice training needs to be meaningful.
п‚— Teachers should receive courses about literacy,
biliteracy, and effective communication with bilingual
children .
п‚— Preservice teachers need to explore their attitude on
dealing with children of varied abilities and to receive
training on providing activities for heterogeneous
groups.
9/23/2014
Implications for Inservice Training
п‚— The successful bilingual teacher knows about the
child’s level in the first language, proves useful to
the child, and acts as mediator with the parents.
п‚— A native speaker of English would be ideal.
However, a fluent non-native English speaker
could do well with proper training.
п‚— It is crucial that L1 and L2 teachers plan their
lessons and activities together so the child gets
the utmost benefit from the program.
9/23/2014
Implications for Curriculum
Development -1
п‚— Teachers should teach English through themes.
п‚— Forty percent of the time would be conducted in
L1 and 40 % in L2. The rest or 20 % should be
allocated for unstructured activities.
п‚— An option during free play for computer assisted
instruction (CAI) should be included.
п‚— Whole language approach needs to be blended
with phonic programs.
п‚— Oral games including phonological instruction
should be included in an engaging manner.
9/23/2014
Implications for Curriculum
Development-2
п‚— Songs and movement should be emphasized but
not drills.
п‚— The teacher should integrate oral and written
approach to develop oral language.
п‚— Parents and older siblings need to be involved.
п‚— The content should be culturally and
linguistically relevant.
п‚— The activities should appeal to children with
different abilities and intelligences.
9/23/2014
Conclusion
п‚— The objective of this paper was not to emphasize
learning English while losing the home language.
The target was for children to achieve balanced
bilingualism with mastery in both languages.
п‚— Children would succeed with the contribution of
parents, older siblings, role models, peers,
teachers, schools, and school policies.
п‚— At the heart of it all, lies a child excited to learn, a
qualified teacher, a supportive parent, and an
encouraging environment that embraces
multiculturalism/multilingualism.
9/23/2014
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