“The [writing] conference can be a joyful time for you and your multilingual students, a time where your teaching is tailored specifically to the child sitting next to you. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge what your multilingual student does well, has learned to do well, and what she can learn to do well. And it moves us, their teachers, forward in knowing our multilingual students and extending their learning one writer at a time.”
This week, we share a Digital Library article written by Tasha Tropp Laman entitled “Talking With English Language Learners About Their Writing.” Tasha encourages teachers to use writing conferences—in spite of the “messiness” of trying to communicate with students whose native language is not English—to help students communicate and express themselves.
She presents some simple but effective communication tools to use with emerging English Language learners: learning key phrases in the student’s native language, encouraging drawing as a means of communicating, and smiling! It’s amazing what a warm smile can do to ease a student’s anxiety.
Tasha offers strategies and positive language to help bring multilingual learners from the periphery of the classroom to the center of learning by engaging them in writing conferences, including:
- Getting to know your students before you confer
- Noticing and naming writing identities
- Helping students to identify their audience
- Inspiring students to revise their writing
- And using writing conferences to expand on a child’s writing repertoire
Be sure to share this post with any colleagues who may also benefit from considering these strategies when working with multilingual students.
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