“How teachers can help students’ fluency in English. “;
For years, the very first humans could not communicate through language, so they drew pictures. It was their way of communicating. After language was developed, it created a way for humans to connect. Through this course, I studied many English Language Learners. I learned how their background affected their writing. I was eager to learn more about English Language Learners, because as a future teacher in Colorado, I will be teaching in a multi-cultural setting. ELLs learn a great deal while they are in elementary school, and I am eager to help them along the way. In this study, I looked at multiple writing samples of various grades. Each writing sample came from an English Language Learner. They were many different tasks, but I got to learn about an ELLs development throughout the years.
The first sample I looked at was a first grade student who was trying to write a story. The objective of the writing, was that students will be able to write a story based off the pictures they see (Grade 1, Level 1). The first picture shows a girl eating ice cream. The student’s sentence was, “She was eat ice-crem”. This student is using the Present Simple tense. An example of Present Simple tense is, “he walks to work.” This means he walked in the past, he is walking, and will walk to work in the future (EliHinkle). Student X should be using the Past Simple tense. Past Simple indicates an action that took place before the current moment, but has no real connection with the current time (Yule). The action took place in the past, was completed, and is unrelated to the present. There is also an absence of subject verb agreement. The student understands that the girl is eating, but struggles with the tenses, and spelling as well. Many languages do not have elaborated tense systems; unlike the English language. In the English language, there are 16 verb tense and aspect combinations (Yule). An example of a sentence student X could have written is, “She is eating ice cream.” This sentence is written in the correct tense, Past Simple. In the next picture the girl drops her ice cream cone. Student X’s sentence was “She drob the ice-crem”. An example of a sentence they could have said is, “She dropped her ice cream.” Many ELLs also struggle with adding –ed on words. It is difficult to decide when to add them, and when to change the word completely. An example of a word you would need to change is, “she runned outside”, you should say, “she ran outside”. An ELL struggles with knowing when and where to add an –ed. The last picture shows the ice cream on the floor, and the girl is crying. Student X wrote, “She is cred.” Student X understands that the girl is crying, but cannot explain in writing exactly why. A sentence student X could have written is, “She is crying because she dropped her ice cream on the floor”. This student shows great promise. As a first grade student, they are showing how much she understands, but needs to work on a few things. They need to work on understanding tenses, spelling, and grammar. Student X continues to say, “ice-crem” rather than, “ice cream”. They sounded the words out great, but their spelling is not correct. With work, I believe this student will catch up with their peers.
In Grade 1 Level 3, there was another writing example. This was a picture of three children playing in the rain. The English Language Learner, student Y, wrote “There are 3 kids. It raining to much. One kid he jump in the fall down water. He have boots. The other kid she have umbrella. She not get wet. She is so happy she stay under umbrella. Another kid is sad. She don’t have coat for rain and she don’t have boots.” The story this student is trying to tell is almost clear. There are a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. These students need assistance in their writing in a lot of ways. Even their handwriting needs improvement. The letter ‘s’ was written backwards many times. Student Y may have Dyslexia, or they may not get enough practice writing. Many students, ELLs or not, need a lot of practice writing so they can improve. This student needs more practice understanding how to write an ‘s’. A way to help a student who is writing letters or number backwards is to address the problem right away. It helps to focus on one letter or number at a time (Understood). Student Y also uses the wrong tenses continuously. This student is writing as if they were speaking, and writing is a lot more formal. There are run-on sentences as well. This student needs to understand the difference between their haves and don’ts. They say, “He have boots” rather than “he has boots.” Student Y also says, “she don’t have coat” rather than “she does not have a coat”. Many English Language Learners struggle with the difference between don’t and doesn’t up into their adulthood. Addressing this problem early on, can help this student learn the difference, and use the correct one.
In my time researching these students’ writing, I was able to learn so much about their language development. In the beginning, it was difficult because the students’ growth was not obvious, but one could see where they had room for improvement. I learned where the students could get better, and where they are doing great. Some things that I learned about student X was they need to work on deciphering what tenses to use when, and student Y needs to work on writing letters, as well as understanding the difference between has and have. It was great learning about what the first steps would be after getting these children in my class. Many people struggle with what to teach them first, and how to assist them in the beginning. I wish I could have seen their confidence grow, but I know how to teach my ELLs better when they come into my future classroom. English is a difficult language to learn, and this paper helped me realize how I can help my student’s fluency in English.
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