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Category: World History

Date Submitted: 06/04/2008 03:00 PM

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The cultural make up of most schools in California is a population that is linguistically diverse. Language is an important aspect in the classroom that can be both positive and negative for a child. For example, Ryan (2001) states, “Because children are growing up in a multilingual world, they confront two languages on a daily basis, and are not afforded the option of living in a monolingual world.” With the number of second language learners increasing in schools across the United States, it is imperative that curriculum is devised to assist their needs.

According to Nieto (2000), “The number and variety of language minority students has escalated tremendously in the past two decades. By 1994, their number was estimated at 9.9 million.” With this information and other factors, the first year of teaching can be very difficult. The four best suggestions that I can give to any first year teacher is to understand the process of learning, become knowledgeable of the curriculum, identify and provide for cultural awareness, and be advocates for your students and parents.

In order for a teacher to effectively teach students that are linguistically diverse, they must first understand how language is learned. Children must be fluent in their primary language in order to learn a second language. Ryan (2001) states, “Learning is an associative process and the rules of language are transferable.” Children who are fluent in one language can make the connection better from their primary language to the language being taught. For example, a student that is learning the word book, if they actually know what a book is and looks like and that in their primary language of Spanish it is “Libre”, they will make the connection. In teaching Second Language Learners teachers must also understand the different Language Acquisition Theories. Three basic theories include behaviorist, innatist and interactionist.

Behaviorist theories are derived from, children learning their first...