As a teacher at an International School, many of my students were English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers were living in a non-English speaking country. In addition to having Vocabulary Packets designed specifically for ESL students, I also write weekly blog posts with tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
Two weeks off!!! The kids are excited. The teachers are excited. The holidays are a time for families and fun and children should be encouraged to spend that time with their families. If your students are going home to families where they are going to receive books as holiday presents and reading stories with their parents in English each night, then you aren’t likely to see much of a regression in two weeks. However, for students who will not hear a word of English for two weeks or who may never read or be read to on their own, assigning reading homework over holiday breaks is vitally important. During the winter holiday, send home a reading log – or a variety of them – and ask students to read every day. I emphasize to my ESL students that they do not have to read in English every day, as this is often a time for students to strengthen their skills in their home language. Instead, I ask that 50% of the reading be in English and 50% be in their home language. I send home both fiction and non-fiction reading logs, in order to give students a chance to read whatever they enjoy.
Of course, many students forget about reading and homework with the excitement of the holidays. So I often offer a special treat to each student who returns two completed reading logs. Then, I stop by Target in the few days after Christmas and pick up some clearance Christmas candies. Students who bring back their work get a handful of candy that they are allowed to eat during the day when they return their reading log. The benefit of reading in any language and working in English for any amount of time makes the transition back into the classroom in January so much easier.