How does linguistic diversity influence classroom performance?
Page 6: Linguistic Supports
Culturally responsive teachers create a classroom environment that makes students feel comfortable, regardless of their language differences. Students with diverse language needs can adequately meet academic goals when teachers use appropriate strategies and check for student understanding. Also important for ensuring student success is for instructors to provide supports, examples of which are offered below.
Manipulatives are hands-on materials that help students to understand abstract concepts (e.g., fractions). Teachers should demonstrate how to use manipulatives as they model the connection to a concept or a vocabulary term.
Word walls are used to display vocabulary that students are expected to learn (e.g., high-frequency words, content-area vocabulary, instructional terms). Teachers can pre-teach these words to students and later refer to the word wall during instruction as a way to support students’ learning.
Real Objects, Pictures, or Graphics
Real objects, pictures, and graphics support the information presented in an existing lesson plan (e.g., identifying the basic parts of plants). Organized teachers plan ahead and have these resources available for classroom use.
Students can work in small groups to maximize learning. Working with peers provides academic supports and creates more opportunities to practice language skills. Cooperative learning also supports students from cultures that value collaboration over independent effort.
Building on Background Knowledge
Using information gathered from students, their families, or a bilingual liaison, teachers can tie new concepts and terms to students’ knowledge, cultural backgrounds, and previous experiences. Doing so allows students to make connections between their experiences and the vocabulary terms used in the lesson.
Reading Aloud Interactively
When they read aloud together, teachers and students make use of gestures, listener participation, and different voices to denote individual characters. A read-aloud strategy provides language models for students and allows them to better comprehend the information.
To help students to learn vocabulary, teachers can label items around the room both in English and in the students’ native languages.
Used wisely, technology (e.g., the Internet) can be a useful aid in teaching new concepts to students. Teachers may find it is beneficial to convey ideas or information to their students by showing them video clips or movies, engaging in simulation activities (e.g., a computerized model of seasonal weather changes), or playing an interactive game.
In science class, Mr. Bennett is teaching a lesson on solar energy—specifically how materials reflect solar energy in differing amounts. He pre-teaches the terms solar energy and reflection and adds them to the word wall both in English and Spanish.