Question: How can monolingual teachers help ESL students build self-esteem in their classrooms?
Answer/Quotes: Success, Failure and Self-Esteem: “Most educators would agree that positive self-esteem is critical to academic success for all students. It is generally regarded, however, as an individual personality trait that some students are fortunate enough to develop through interactions with family and peers or from past life experiences. Many teachers acknowledge that success and failure in school both affect and reflect a student’s self-esteem. ... But except for suggestions that they provide positive feedback and words of encouragement, little help has been given to teachers to guide them in fostering self-esteem in their students.” P. 65.
Authentic Language Use, Not Exercises. “Language develops through authentic language use, not language exercises.” P. 70.
Include Home Language in the Classroom. “There is widespread agreement that inclusion of the home language of monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual students in the classroom is integral to their success. If students’ home language is included in the curriculum and learning environment, they learn that this language is respected and valued…. For example, monolingual teachers in an Albuquerque elementary school recently enlisted the help of first-through fifth-graders to prepare multilingual invitations to a community curriculum-sharing night.” P. 73.
Assessment. “Teachers and students should collect language samples—such as journal entries, written reports and projects, published pieces, and letters—that demonstrate the students’ range of writing. Similarly, records of students’ reading may include books and novels read but should also include functional reading, such as use of phone books, informational materials, recipes, and directions.” P. 78.
Home Language: Asset, Not Obstacle. “Students must know that their home language and culture are viewed as assets rather than obstacles to learning.” P. 78.
Comment: Home language and culture must be communicated in the classroom throughout the school year. A basic principle. Maybe my readers knew all this. I didn’t. I’m learning. RayS.
Title: “Self-Esteem: Access to Literacy in Multicultural and Multilingual Classrooms.” B Altwerger and BL Ivener. Pp. 65-81. In Kids Come in All Languages: Reading Instruction for ESL Students. Eds. K Spangensberg-Urgschat and R Pritchard. Newark, DE: IRA. 1994.