In some circumstances, children find themselves in an environment necessitating to learn more than one language. Children may learn two languages at the same time whereby a child learns and speaks one language at home and begins to learn a second language in school. In the situation one learns two languages at the same time apart from their native language is referred to as Dual Language Learning (Cook, 2016). Dual language learning needs attention as a teacher has to understand how a child is acquiring and responding to the two languages.
Dual language is important as it helps children grow and develops them across all domains (Cook, 2016). However, there are circumstances where dual language learning is not easy. In this scenario, where four-year-old Sheila just moved into an English speaking country from Bosnia, and she does not speak a word of English, it can be hard. It would be challenging to get her to learn English because she does not socialize, but instead, she sits by herself and waits for her mother to pick her. As a teacher, to increase Sheila participation in class which will get her to learn English, I will implement three DLL strategies which are planning activities which are non-language dependent, facilitate problem-solving to help her emotionally and work on cultivating a caring and respectful learning environment.
Planning activities which do not require languages to communicate are essential. This includes gestures, games, drawing, writing, and using props (Cohen, 2014). Some students would like to communicate, but they do not have a way to do it. Sheila might be spending time alone because she feels left out during discussions. Therefore, as a teacher, I am going to encourage her to use gestures when communicating with classmates. Also, she can draw an animal she is describing or write down the name in her language, and I will translate to other students. This will help Sheila to make friends with other classmates who are going to help her learn English. A student teaching another one is the easiest way as they understand each other personally. Therefore, using non- language dependent activities to get Sheila to make friends is an excellent strategy that will help her learn English.
The second DLL strategy that I would employ as a teacher is facilitating problem solving to help her emotionally (Cohen, 2014). Sheila is challenged emotionally that is why she cries and throws herself on the floor when her mother leaves her at school in the morning. This is because she is emotional about being left in a new environment with strangers. I will create problem-solving lessons where she manages to solve problems such as two friends fighting then she provides a solution. She will do this by either using gestures, the little English she would have learned or in her native language and I will translate for students. She will solve it in any language she feels comfortable in. Helping solve problems will help her grow emotionally and discover she can relate with other people other than her mother. This will motivate Sheila to learn English so she can help solve more problems in class in a language that everyone understands.
Working on cultivating a caring and respectful learning environment is another strategy that will help Sheila to learn English. One of the ways is by making all students learn each other's names and their meanings. Sheila can also tell the class the meaning of her name in her native language, and one student will tell her what it means in English. Also, I would create a fun environment by giving Sheila matching games on the computers where she matches her native language words with their corresponding English words and she scores points.
Sheila should not be referred to evaluation at this time. This is because she is still learning and if an evaluation is done to assess her language, she will feel like she is not good enough or rather her native language is not accepted. Sheila should be allowed to get to a point where she appreciates her native language, but she understands the importance of learning English as it is the primary language used in the school. At this point she can be evaluated as she will be good at it and fluent.
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