A common trait with the districts I work with is the increase of English Learners (ELs) in the classroom. With a focus on literacy, I am often asked to support teachers in their pursuit of providing the best resources and strategies for students. Over the next few days, I will be posting different ways to support ELs in the classroom in terms of literacy instruction. First up, Using Bilingual Books in the Classroom
Using bilingual books in the classroom is advantageous for all students and teachers. Books written in the home language of your students convey the message that you value and respect their culture, their experiences, and them as learners. It provides practice of applying and connecting reading and writing strategies from one language to another. Connecting or “bootstrapping” emergent literacy skills and strategies from a student’s home language to English is essential to the acquisition. ELs (English Learners) use “bootstrapping” when they use their home language to help them read and write English.
Teachers gain valuable insight into their EL students when noticing the connections being made and the strategies they are equipped with their home language and apply them to learning English. Bilingual books in the classroom provide these opportunities for observation as well as experiences for teachers to discern their own language acquisition when reading a text in an unfamiliar language.
The Bottom-Line is:
- EL students are resourceful learners and use every resource and strategy available to do well in school.
- Having books in multiple home languages helps to build relationships and honors students as learners.
- It’s easier to learn something new when it stems from something familiar. Providing books in multiple languages for students gives access to information and choice in reading.
- Teachers can help bring connections between languages, as well as notice strategies students already possess when providing books in home languages for students to read.
Sources for Bilingual Books
- Mantra Lingua
- Pan Asian Publications
- Letterbox Library
- China Sprout
- Cinco Puntos
- Lee and Low Books
- Yellow Bridge
- Language Lizard
- Colorín Colorado
- International Digital Children’s Library
- ManyThings.org (Multiple audio recordings)
- Unite for Literacy (Books with audio available in multiple languages)
- Newsela (NF, Multiple Text-Levels, Spanish and English)
- TweenTribune (NF, Multiple Text-Levels, Spanish & English)
- Latinitas (Focused on empowering young Latinas using media and technology, digital magazine)
- ReadWorks (lessons, texts, and resources for EL students and teachers)
- MackinVia (library filled with digital books students can read and are available in multiple languages)
Finally, here is a list of activities that educators can do to accompany bilingual books in the classroom:
- Use for the promotion of metalinguistic awareness.
- Prepare students for new content for an upcoming unit as a sort of preview.
- Free reading choice.
- Self-assessment and monitoring comprehension.
- Compare the texts in both versions with a focus on tone, word choice in each, evaluate each text.
- Bring books home to involve families in literacy activities.
- Write their own companion book for a text.
- Use picture books and work on oral language acquisition.
Source: Nancy Cloud, Fred Genesee, and Elsa Hamayan. Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners.