Essay on The Need for Love when Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Essay on The Need for Love when Teaching English as a Foreign Language

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Most of my attitudes toward languages other than mine have been shaped by being a English Language Learner teacher. This year there are twenty-seven different languages spoken in my school, many I have not heard of until recently. Growing up I was not exposed to other languages at all. I lived in a predominately Caucasian area of rural Pennsylvania. I did not have experiences with people of different races or languages. Where I live and work now is a stark contrast to my original experiences. When I began teaching at a high English Learner (EL) population school I had no idea what to expect. I have grown to love the diversity and different languages. I will often ask my students or their parents how to say certain words and listen completely captivated when they speak to each other in their native tongues. It continues to fascinate me when I listen to five year old children seamlessly transition from speaking one language to their peers to speaking English to me.
I am only fluent in one language. There have been many things which have deterred me from learned another language. The most prevalent is I would not even now where to start. When I tell people I am an EL teacher their first response is to inquire about my fluency in Spanish. While many of my students speak Spanish it is not the only language I work with on a daily basis. The languages which are more widely spoken in my school, such as Spanish and Kurdish are not the ones I would want to learn first because there are so many students and parents who are able to translate or explain the majority of what is necessary when needed. The language I have a desire to speak from year to year differs based on the students I have. One year I had a student who spoke Karen. There w...

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My personal language learning experiences influence the instruction on my EL students by my ability to be patient with them and try to understand where they are coming from. I have learned that I do not appreciate when conclusions are assumed because of external factors in which I have no control. I try and take that knowledge and apply it to my EL students. One of the most important lessons I have learned and apply to my teaching is one of love. Love is powerful and strong. It possesses the unique ability to stretch across any language, social, political, or any other barrier prevalent in a child’s life. As a child all I desired love and that is what I consistently and tirelessly offer each of my students EL or not.

Works Cited

Ogulnick, K. L. (2000). Language crossings: Negotiating the self in a multicultural world. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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