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Teaching Tolerance's Take on 'Social Inclusion' for ELLs

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"Lonely Language Learners?" in Teaching Tolerance magazine's spring issue emphasizes the social aspects of a dual-language program at La Escuela Fratney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The article pitches such a program as giving English-language learners an opportunity to speak up in class, while in a regular English-only classroom, they might be ignored. In the program, students who are dominant in English and students who are dominant in Spanish learn both languages in the same classroom. It facilitates "social inclusion," the article says.

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Getting kids interested in after school activities is important. Still I see kids getting used to having other ESOL students as their best friends and their comfort. As an ESOL teacher, I am often unknown as much as my students are and having a study hall, lunch duty and going on trips with other kids does help. I've had kids become fond of me and then suddenly wander in my class to see where I am actually located. Some of my ESOL students bring fellow students in after school to work on school work. This is all good. It's important to allow the ESOL kids to have their boundaries too and make sure they can tolerate the exposure being expected of them. Too much can be as sad and lonely as too little. The opportunity to be seen as normal and regular goes a long way. How many times have you seen an ESOL class in a novel? ESOL teachers don't exist and often kids who speak another language are encouraged to speak English and forget their native language at school, sometimes home. We need to be known and available.

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