Native Language Overload

My position as an ESL teacher has always been much more like a transitional bilingual teacher with the idea of dual language education in the back of my brain. I always shuddered at the concept of English only, and didn’t want to approach my class that way. At the same time, I’ve also always believed that the more practice a student gets in the target language, the better.

But then two years ago, I taught a class filled with about 7 different languages, and the task of supporting them all was quite daunting. Most of the students were intermediate, though, so they knew a sufficient amount of English and many, sadly, had already forgotten their first language. Not my chinese students, though.

The same is true again this year. I have 5, soon to be 4, chinese-speaking ELLs. Aside from the mediocre tool that is Google translate, I would have no real method for communicating academic content to them. But I cannot teach by translating everything. I need to be able to create a tandem curriculum that meets their needs in learning English while teaching a larger class of more advanced Beginners.

Lately I have been relying on website resources from @larryferlazzo and @judiehaynes, which have helped quite a bit.


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