Sunday, October 26, 2014

Collier - Teaching Multilingual Children - Revisited

After re-reading Virgina Collier’s “Teaching Multilingual Children,” I feel like I have a much clearer view on how to teach ESL students. Reading this again also just kind of verified how difficult it actually is to teach these students. The biggest obstacle – as Collier points out numerous times – is we need to teach these students English in a way that will make them successful members in society while also keeping true to their own culture and language. What we need to try and avoid doing is what the nuns did to Rodriguez and his family. These nuns were so forceful and strict with only speaking English that Rodriguez felt like his language was something to be ashamed of, and Collier would think that is horrible. Teachers need to be very careful on how they go about teaching multilingual students so they don’t end up like Rodriguez and lose themselves while gaining the English language. Our main goal as educators Collier says, is to be able to set these children up for success in society while allowing them to use their native language to get them through it and help them through any way it can. There are some points I found while re-reading that really confirm my view on it while some are tips for teaching multilingual students:
  1. “Be aware that children use first language acquisition for learning or acquiring a second language” (Collier, p.223)
  2. “Don’t teach a second language in a way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language” (Collier, p.227).
  3.  “One must teach in two languages, affirm the cultural values of both home and school, teach standardized forms of the two languages but respect and affirm the multiple varieties and dialects represented among students in class, be a creative and flexible teacher, serve as a catalyst for discovery as students learn to operate effectively in their multiple worlds, be able to mediate and resolve intercultural conflicts, keep students on task and on and on” (Collier, p.222).
  4. “On the other hand, teachers are responsible for facilitating academic language development. Academic language does not come to kids automatically, just because they are in a dominant English-speaking locale. Academic language is context-reduced and intellectually much more demanding. Context- reduced communication relies heavily on linguistic cues alone. It involves abstract thinking” (Collier, p.225).
  5.  “The reasons to use this whole range of activities in the classroom is to eliminate boredom, raise awareness, and make language teaching as well as learning as culturally relevant as possible for students. In this manner, it is hoped that the learning process will not only enrich the life of the student, but also that of his or her teacher” (Collier, p.235).
I think all the quotes I pulled from the excerpt show the difficulties of teaching ESL students but they also give tips on how to teach them successfully. After pulling these quotes, I went back to the week we read this and pulled some quotes from a few classmates blog that also back up the main point:
  1. “Collier explains that as a teacher, our mission is to help our students become fluent in their academic language but also give them the tools to continue sufficiently speaking their native language in the outside world” (Erika Lincoln’s Blog).
  2. “I believe that Collier is absolutely correct in her assessment of how multilingual children should be taught. Although it is the educator's job to ‘facilitate academic language development’ (225), it cannot be lost that it is extremely important ‘to allow the child to express [themselves]... which encourages learning’ (230)” (Chanel Jones’ Blog).
  3. “Collier would disagree with the way the teacher conducted the conversation because she states that, ‘...teacher should be aware of the special kind of speech that mothers and fathers use automatically with their children, and try to emulate this’ (224). Collier calls this ‘caregiver speech’; and two important parts of this speech consists of;‘Caregivers speak in short and simple sentences’‘Caregivers provide models to children by saying for them what the children seem to want to say’” (Chanel Jones’ Blog).
  4. “While reading Virginia Colliers, Teaching Multilingual Children, I feel one of her main arguments is teachers need to embrace the different languages and cultures students bring into the classroom and use that in order to teach children English” (Essence Harrison’s Blog).
  5. “Virginia Collier argues that teachers need to understand the student's language patterns in the home and consider it in the classroom. She explains how teachers try and teach English as a second language that tries to cancel out their first language. Students need to still be able to be themselves and understand their culture. Teachers need to have a variety of way to communicate in the classroom. Teachers need to provide separate lessons in order to fit each student's needs and abilities. The way they teach needs to compliment the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing” (Tonia O'Brien's Blog). (There was no more posts from our class about Collier that I thought I could use, so when searching the topic online, I came across some blogs from past FNED classes and thought this one suited my argument best!)

Overall, I think that Collier is just trying to say that we need to be conscious of the ESL children we teach. Even if we are not the same culture as them, we need to realize that their language is just as valuable and important as the English language. Below is a video I found that have some ESL teaching struggles and strategies that I found to be interesting!

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