Working with English Learners

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Working with English Learners. Debunking the myths of language acquisition. . This is Mabou Loiseau . She speaks seven languages fluently. Which ones do you hear ?. Which one is her native language?. Listen closely. Can you tell?. Does it matter?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Who Speaks English?

Working with English LearnersDebunking the myths of language acquisition.

This is Mabou Loiseau...She speaks seven languages fluently.Which ones do you hear?Which one is her native language?Listen closely...Can you tell?Does it matter?Should we encourage Mabou to preserve her native language?Is there any reason to discourage Mabou from using her native language?Mabous primary language teachers are her parents.Does Mabou appear to have been discouraged from learning English? Does it seem like her parents would resist teaching Mabou any languae? Activity:What do you think are the primary myths and issues facing English language learners today?Take a moment to discuss these questions with your shoulder partner and jot down a few quick answers.Primary Myths and issues:MYTHS:Resistance to language acquisition

What are they perpetuated by?

How are they incorrect?ISSUESPreservation of Heritage language

Why is it important?

How can school systems help?Myths about language acquisitionPerpetuated by:Fear:Of political, social, or economic instability resulting from widespread language differences (Tse, 2001).Reality:The percentage of overall U.S. population born outside the United States has gone down 28% in the last 90 years (Tse).

A population with proficiency in multiple languages stabilizes the U.S by providing workers ready to navigate the global economy (NYSUT Fact Sheet, 2010).

Myths about language acquisitionPerpetuated by:Fear:Learning two languages during childhood will overwhelm or delay acquisition of English (Espinosa, 2008).Reality:

Bilingual infants develop two separate but connected linguistic systems during the first year of life (Genesee, Paradis & Crago).

Acquiring English after their first language confers long-term cognitive, cultural, and economic advantages (Espinosa).Perpetuated by:Misperception:Most immigrants resist learning to speak English (Tse).Reality

Almost 75% of immigrants 5 years of age and older reported speaking English very well in both the 1979 and 1989 census (Tse)

Demand for English classes is greater than the supply. In New York City interest in adult English classes is so intense that some programs operate a lottery to determine who gains seats in class. Currently, less than 5 percent of the demand is met (NCCCUSA).Myths about language acquisitionPerpetuated by:Misperception:Most immigrants cling to their native language and do not want their children to speak English (Tse).Reality:

Outside of the U.S., English is considered a prestige language associated with greater access to opportunities (, 2007)

Many immigrant parents fear that speaking anything other than English will hamper their childrens school success. (Tse)

Most immigrants families become monolingual in English by the third generation (Tse).

Monolingualism can even happen in one generation due to subtractive bilingualism(Tse).

Myths about language acquisitionPrimary Myths and issues:MYTHS:Resistance to language acquisition

What are they perpetuated by?

How are they incorrect?ISSUESPreservation of Heritage language

Why is it important?

How can school systems help?Activity:Think back to the questions you answered at the beginning of the presentation.

Have your ideas about ELLs changed at all?


Do you think it is important to preserve Heritage language?

Why?Why is it important?Education:ELL children aged 3 8 that are exposed to learning in their native language consistently outperform children in English-only programs during middle and high school (Espinosa).

Schools which allow students to use their native language as well as English increase student participation and self-esteem (NYSUT).

Preservation of Heritage LanguageWhy is it important?Social:Continuing to speak in their native language allows parents to communicate, discipline, and teach values (Yan, 2003).

Bilingual children have access to multiple sources of information such as Social Capital and Funds of Knowledge that are useful to communication as well as learning (Tse).

Preservation of Heritage LanguageHow can schools help?Education and literacy efforts:Incorporate books into the school library that are written in languages other than English (Tse).

Encourage recreational reading in any language by providing engaging reading materials (Tse).

Preservation of Heritage LanguageHow can schools help?Social/educational:Develop dual-language programs that support content and language objectives in both the students native language and English (NYSUT).

Create language clubs to be attended both by native language speakers and those who wish to learn their language (Tse).

Preservation of Heritage LanguageActivity:Think back to the questions you answered earlier.

Have your ideas changed about preserving Heritage Languages?

Why?ConclusionImmigrants do not resist learning English.

Immigrants do not insist on using and perpetuating their native language with their peers and children.

Perpetuation of heritage languages is vital to the education and well-being of ELLs.

Schools and communities have many and varied resources to support and incorporate heritage language learning.References:2nd Language Blogspot. (2011, January 28). Maintaining Heritage Languages of Culturally and Linguisitically Diverse Students. Retrieved from

4 Year Old Supergirl Mabou Loiseau Frere Jaques (Are You Sleeping) Russian, French, Chinese, English. (2011). Retrieved from Accessed on 02/09/13.

Corbin, G., (2007). The challenges of language preservation. Global Envision: Exploring Market-Driven Solutions to Poverty. Retrieved from

Espinosa, L., (2008, January) FCD policy brief: Advancing PK 3. No. Eight. New York, Ny. Foundation for Child Development.

Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M.B. (2004) Dual language development and disorders: a handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore, Md. Brookes Publishing.

NYSUT Research and Educational Services. (2010, December 16)Fact sheet 3: debunking the myths of english language learners. Retrieved from

NCCC, Office of Global Education. Factsheet on immigration. Retrieved from

Tse, L., (2001). Why dont they learn english: separating fact from fallacy in the u.s. language debate. New York, Ny. Teachers College Press.

Beth MarcheFoundations in ESOL, February, 2103