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'Fundamentals' for Teachers of English-Learners

Teachers of English-language learners understand the similarities and differences between learning a first and a second language. They know the difference between social language and academic language. They do not view the presence of ELLs in a school as a problem. Those are a few of 16 "fundamentals" for teachers of ELLs listed in AccELLerate!, the newsletter of the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition.

It's a handy list, drawn up by Robert D. Leier, an assistant professor at Auburn University, and Laureen A. Fregeau, an associate professor at the University of South Alabama, and I think it provides a good platform for discussion.

I'd like to add a note to one of the traits listed. On the issue of inclusion, the authors write: "Teachers realize that ELLs feel alienated, especially when they are isolated from peers of their linguistic and cultural background."

Made in America, a book I read a few years ago by Laurie Olsen, the executive director of California Tomorrow, showed that ELLs also may feel alienated if they are separated in schools from native-English speakers. (Here is a more recent paperback version of the book.) I think it's good to look at inclusion from different angles.

Where would you add or subtract from the list of essential tools for teachers of ELLs?

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