• HBenson

A Spotlight on Reading Specialists

As we know, ESL is so much more than teaching a student to speak our language. And therein lies the problem when communicating needs to administration and content teachers: if the spoken language excels before reading or writing, how can you explain where the disconnect is? Social language (BICS) takes 6 mos.-2 years to hone, while those academic language skills (CALP) take 5-7 years.

Two important takeaways from this episode are: do not leave initial reading in elementary school up to the content teacher and teach academic reading and vocabulary to your advanced-level BICS students.

I really wanted to focus on these two because (truth-moment) I've really struggled to do both of these in my own career. It's tough work! I don't usually focus a lot on the how-tos of ESL teaching in this podcast because there are so many out there that focus on just that. But this is also how I get PD, so I will be focusing on an elementary ESL how-to as well as more advanced vocabulary points. Do check out the show notes from this episode, as Valentina Gonzalez shared with me a whole list of further reading suggestions on these very topics!

As for our reading specialist friends, USE THEM! They are an invaluable resource! Especially if you are looking to break out of your worksheet mode, their fun methods for teaching reading to elementary learners are tough to beat. If elementary is not your (current) scene, reading specialists have great ideas for focusing on hard to pronounce words and breaking them into chewable bites.

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