Volume XI- November 1, 2004
Welcome to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for
language educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.
For your reading pleasure…
of the day...
Punishment for speaking Spanish irks parents
BY OLIVIA CLARKE
HAMMOND | Spanish-speaking children in one Hammond school were
punished recently for not speaking English in class, outraging
parents trying to preserve their heritage.... About three weeks
ago Claudia Garcia's fourth-grade son got in trouble at Lincoln
Elementary School for speaking Spanish. When Garcia tried later
to talk to him in Spanish at home, he said he would only talk
in English because he wasn't allowed to speak Spanish. Garcia
said numerous children in the district get punished for not
speaking English. While students need to learn English, she
said they should not be forced to abandon their heritage. In
some cases, the children speak very little English. Yet they
are made to put their faces against the wall as punishment for
not speaking English, parents said.
To read the rest of the article go to: http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2004/10/25/news/lake_county/f7152ac839d604f786256f3800038893.txt
big surprise to YOU, of course...
Karaoke helps immigrant students learn the lingo
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Everybody wants a shot at that microphone.
Lined up two by two, the waiting singers fidget in line yet
keep their eyes on the karaoke machine, watching for those first
words to pop up. It's another crowd-pleaser: "The bear went
over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear
went over the mountain, to see what he could see." Karaoke,
elementary-school style, is no doubt the loudest thing going
on at New Chelsea School in Kansas City, Kan. But it's not just
a fun diversion, a nightclub amusement geared for kids. Turns
out karaoke is a great way to help young immigrants who have
been thrust into a sea of English speakers at school, often
just days after arriving in this country. It helps speed up
their comprehension and speech.
To read more go to: http://www.kctv5.com/Global/story.asp?S=2447128
program picks up where schools leave off
By Gabrielle Gurley, Globe Correspondent
''Como estas?" ''How are you?" Kiera Campbell, a former Arlington
Spanish teacher, asked four Arlington elementary school students
who were seated with her on the set of the local cable public
''Bien," said Ysabela Campbell-Breen, 6, Campbell's daughter,
and a Bishop School first-grader. ''But I'm also hot!"
Despite the heat from the television lights, the young students
didn't wilt during the recording of one of the first installments
of ''Hola Arlington!" a new Spanish language instruction program
premiering on Comcast community cable this month. In a segment
filled with bilingual banter about ''La Familia," Campbell taught
the Spanish words for relatives, including grandmother, ''la
abuela," and grandfather, ''el abuelo." The children also sang
songs, listened to a story, and drew pictures. Billed as a way
to ''learn Spanish with your friends," the cable TV project
aims to fill a void in Arlington's seven elementary schools.
After a five-year run and serving more than 2,200 students,
the Spanish language instruction program was cut by the cash-strapped
school district this school year.
But that's not the end of the story -- read the rest at:
stories revive Inuit myths for modern kids
Bilingual book breathes life into ancient spook tales
Imagine Inuit kids gripping a copy of the latest book about
evil, red-eyed shapeshifting spirits, instead of tales of American
superheroes, like Spiderman or the Hulk. Sound far-fetched?
That's the scenario that a dedicated bunch of artists and teachers
are trying to make real, in their efforts to get Nunavut's youth
excited about traditional Inuit stories. The group consists
of a handful of volunteers based in Iqaluit called the Nunavut
Bilingual Education Society, which has been making teaching
material for the territory over the past three years. This year's
release of Taiksumani ("Long ago"), an illustrated book of Inuit
myths and legends, is their biggest coup in their quest to make
learning "cool" with young Nunavummiut.
Read more about this at: http://www.nunatsiaq.com/news/nunavut/41015_12.html
a second language a first priority
Ellie Wen's honored website uses speech and literature to help
people learn English.
By Michael Ordoña, Special to The Times
Ellie Wen is a juggernaut. Sure, she's only 17 and stands a
mere 5 feet 5 inches, but just try to stop this Harvard-Westlake
senior from doing what she sets out to do. She won an award
for top overall achievement by a junior at her school last year,
was the president of her class and is now co-president of the
student body. She writes, acts, sings and studies French, Spanish
and Chinese at high levels. She also fences and is, naturally,
co-captain of the team. ...
Earlier this month, Ellie won the Gloria Barron Prize for Young
Heroes, a national award for teens who have made lasting contributions
to their communities. She was honored for creating RepeatAfterUs.com,
a free website that matches respected English texts with sound
files so that people learning the language around the world
can hear it spoken as they read along. The site has had more
than 89,000 hits, with around 2,500 a day in a recent observation.
Read more about Ellie at: http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-et-wen15oct15,1,5238217.story
Bilingual brain bulge
By Patricia Reaney
LONDON (Reuters) - Being bilingual produces changes in the anatomy
of the brain, scientists said on Wednesday in finding that could
explain why children are so much better than adults at mastering
a second language. They found that people who speak two languages
have more grey matter in the language region of the brain. The
earlier they learned the language, the larger the grey area.
"The grey matter in this region increases in bilinguals relative
to monolinguals -- this is particularly true in early bilinguals
who learned a second language early in life," said Andrea Mechelli,
a neuroscientist at University College London.
Read more about the possible bulge in your brain at: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/041013/325/f4i9d.html
your reading "displeasure
A very interesting - nay, disturbing - letter about the trials
and tribulations of the Praxis exam can be viewed at Susan Ohanian's
website. Not having taken the Praxis, but having heard similar
stories from time to time, I found this letter heart rending.
At the top of the page you'll find comments by Susan O. (who
is not a foreign language or ESL teacher); you'll find the language
teacher's letter towards the bottom of the page: http://susanohanian.org/show_commentary.php?id=288
up: Remember the story about Nushu, the secret language of Chinese
Yang Huanyi, Last User of a Secret Code, Dies
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Yang Huanyi, the last woman to communicate secretly with others
in a rare script used exclusively by women, died Sept. 20 in
her home in Hunan Province, China. She was believed to be in
her late 90's. The New China News Agency reported her death,
saying estimates of her age ranged from 95 to 98. The script,
Nushu, represents the language spoken in Jiangyong Prefecture
the rolling hills of southern Hunan Province. Women, who were
denied education for many centuries in China, used it to share
feminine feelings, including fears about arranged marriages,
husbands and, of course, mothers-in-law.
Read the rest of the story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/06/international/asia/06yang.html?ex=1099195200&en=1ce458bd4ace7c7d&ei=5070
Resources you might be interested in….
New Bilingual TV Program on PBS
Maya & Miguel , a new television program in Spanish and
English, premiered on October 11. The program aims to help children
develop language skills and an understanding of Latino culture.
I haven't seen it. Anyone care to submit a review?
Go to: http://pbskids.org/mayaandmiguel/flash.html for more information about the program.
Disabilities and ELLs
This month’s issue of Learning Disabilities Research and
Practice includes the following articles:
• "Reading Risk and Intervention for Young English Learners:
Evidence from Longitudinal Intervention Research. Introduction
to Special Series" by Michael Gerber and Aydin Y. Durgunoglu
• "Literacy Instruction, SES, and Word-Reading Achievement
in English-Language Learners and Children with English as a
First Language: A Longitudinal Study" by Amedeo D'Angiulli,
Linda S. Siegel, and Stefania Maggi
• "Development of Reading in Grades K-2 in Spanish-Speaking
English-Language Learners" by Franklin R. Manis, Kim A. Lindsey,
and Caroline E. Bailey
• "Do Phonological and Executive Processes in English
Learners at Risk for Reading Disabilities in Grade 1 Predict
Performance in Grade 2?" by H. Lee Swanson, Leilani Sáez,
and Michael Gerber
• "English Reading Effects of Small-Group Intensive Intervention
in Spanish for K-1 English Learners" by Michael Gerber, Terese
Jimenez, Jill Leafstedt, Jessica Villaruz, Catherine Richards,
and Judy English
• "Effectiveness of Explicit Phonological-Awareness Instruction
for At-Risk English Learners" by Jill M. Leafstedt, Catherine
R. Richards, and Michael M. Gerber
• "Literacy Instruction in Multiple-Language First-Grade
Classrooms: Linking Student Outcomes to Observed Instructional
Practice" by Anne W. Graves, Russell Gersten, and Diane Haager
For more information and ordering information,visit: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/toc/ldrp/19/4
National Inclusive Schools Week (Dec. 6-10, 2004) Celebration
Kit Now Available
The 2004 National Inclusive Schools Week Celebration Kit includes:
• celebration ideas, activities, and lesson plans for
educators, families, and community leaders focusing on the theme
"working together," disability issues, and diversity
• examples of how schools and communities across the country
• new planning forms designed to help organize activities
that influence change in communities
• publications that speak to the benefits of building
inclusive schools and communities
• a sample proclamation to help schools, school districts,
and/or communities designate December 6-10 National Inclusive
• tips for spreading the message about the benefits
of inclusive schools via the media, and more
For more information about the Week, visit: http://www.inclusiveschools.org
Or contact: Bonnie Johnson Barry Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Week, November 15-19, 2004
International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate
the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.
This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the
U.S. Department of Education is part of an effort to promote
programs that prepare Americans for global environment and attract
future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences
in the United States.
You'll find more information at: http://exchanges.state.gov/iew/
Thinking about it…
Several years ago I was asked to observe a Russian fourth grader,
whose American teacher couldn't figure out what was going on
with her. Mondays the teacher gave out a spelling list, and
Friday the class took a spelling test, which this otherwise
seemingly bright child always failed miserably. The teacher
knew that the child was required by the parents to study two
hours nightly, so the teacher was certain it wasn't laziness.
I watched the spelling test. Teacher read each spelling word
out loud and students wrote them down.
One of the words was 'house.' The student spelled it "xayc."
Now, if you happen to know the Russian alphabet, you will immediately
recognize that this is "house," spelled according to phonetic
rules of the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet happens
to have a number of letters in common with ours, but they don't
necessarily represent the same sounds. Thus "x" is an "h" sound,
"a" is pronounced "ah", "y" is an "oo" sound which when combined
with an "a" gives you "ou", and "c" is the symbol for "s".
The child had studied "house" all week in her bedroom, by herself.
Her parents provided a dictionary and told her to look up the
spelling words, so she knew what a "house" is. But no one provided
her with any spoken model, and the child had no clear idea of
what the word "house" sounds like. I bet you she memorized all
the words on the list every week very efficiently. But the teacher
didn't provide any practice that related the meaning of each
word to how it was spelled, or pronounced because all of her
American students already knew what a house was and what the
word sounds like. Since the test only involved the teacher pronouncing
words, this student simply wrote what she heard - probably all
the while wondering when she'd EVER be tested on all those words
she'd spent so much time memorizing up in her room...
I received this email recently:
Hi Laura... I'm working with a group of 5th and 6th grade students
that need A LOT of help with their writing. They still write
phonetically and sometimes it's hard to understand what they
write. I'd like to help them with this- do you know of any sites
or could you refer me to any practice books, lessons that I
might try with these kids? Their oral language is OK and comprehension
is OK also but writing is a BIG obstacle in their progress.
This came from a
former colleague of mine, a wonderful ESL teacher. I do have
some suggestions, though they don't involve workbooks or web
sites. I'm sure some of you have suggestions as well, and I’d
love to publish some of them, so send ‘em in!
Spelling is not just an issue for ESL students, but all students.
First of all rule out dyslexia, because that's a whole nuther
issue that has to be dealt with in a very specific way. So let's
assume dyslexia isn't an issue. I believe that the underlying
problem with most spelling mistakes is that the student hasn't
truly internalized the word. My own teaching experience reveals
that when students have had enough input at the comprehension
level, their spelling mistakes decrease dramatically, just as
their grammar and syntax mistakes do. So above all, I want to
make sure that my students have had enough input. How can we
provide sufficient input - especially if we only see the child
for a limited amount of time each day?
There are lots of ways to get at this, but here's a fun one:
Word Bingo. This game gives LOTS of input as to the “look”
of written words, and can be designed to focus on any vocabulary
Create a page of boxes and in each box write a word you want
the students to be able to spell. Please make sure these are
all words the students understand, even if they can't spell
them! Photocopy, and give each student this sheet of 16 to 25
words, and a sheet of construction paper. Call out the words
in random order, telling students to cut out each word as they
hear it. Repeat often while students are cutting - it's all
input. Make sure you randomize the order, so they have to search
for the words. You should cut the words out at the same time,
so you can show the class each word as you all move along. This
allows students to verify that they are choosing the right words.
Once all word cards are cut out, call them again randomly, but
this time have students glue the word cards to the construction
paper, as you call them. When you've called them all, students
will have a page of construction paper with all the word cards
pasted onto it.
Lastly, call the words once more randomly, and this time have
students cut out the word cards, now mounted on a construction
paper backing. When this work is done, students will have a
deck of reasonably sturdy little word cards. This sounds like
a waste of time - but is it? The students have heard each word
at least three times, searched and identified each word at least
three times. Lots of listening input, immediately related to
what the word looks like.
Now you're ready to play bingo. Your students arrange cards
on their desks to form a little bingo pattern, a board, if you
will. You can play with as few as 4 cards, though I find that
9 makes for an easy enough game for beginners. Since each student
chooses which cards he’ll play with, everyone’s
board is likely to be different. Then you or a selected student,
call out the words. Players scan their cards for the word you've
named. If they have the word you called, they turn its card
face down. (Yay, no beans!) They win when they have a complete
row of cards turned over. Do check by having them read back
to you the cards they have turned over -- cheating, though infrequent,
happens! Again, lots of input, and students are constantly looking
at the words, constantly reading them, not as a study exercise,
but for the meaningful purpose of WINNING the game!
Another way to play this is to make an overhead transparency
of the sheet of words. Cut the transparency into word cards,
and then, instead of orally calling the words for the game,
place the cards one at a time on the overhead, so the students
have to read them in order to mark their boards. This makes
for a pretty silent game, until someone wins. And we all know
there are days when a really quiet game is a blessing...
Students can keep these decks for ages, and as you create more
and more of them, they will have a larger and larger stash.
You can pool sets for more complex games. With enough cards,
students can create more than one board to play simultaneously.
Or you can have them play with much larger boards – though
I don’t recommend playing this game with more than 36
cards. Some students will spontaneously begin to use these little
cards like a dictionary – a fairly handy reference when
they are writing.
You can also have students play other games with them –
Go Fish, Old Maid, Concentration, to name a few. This is such
a productive activity, there's no need to feel guilty about
allowing students to "play games" at school. The point is that
seeing the words often enough, in a relaxed, motivating context,
increases the likelihood that students will internalize what
they look like and spell them better when they need to use them
in writing. And believe me, it’s not only an easier way
for the students to learn, it’s a lot easier way to teach,
and you will get a good result with less pain for all involved.
Go on, give it a try. If you hate it, you never have to do it
again! AND, if you have an activity you find works well to improve
spelling, send it in and I'll publish it!
Prolinguistica has a new address:
1621 Freeway Drive #208
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
We're located in the Tridex Building. Same phone (360-848-9792)
and email address (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And a new website:
Prolinguistica recently added a new service: dyslexia correction
and has a new website as well. The new website is dedicated
exclusively to our services in dyslexia correction. That URL
I encourage you to visit it, even if dyslexia is not a topic
of burning interest to you. With from 5% to 15% of the population
displaying symptoms of the dyslexic learnng style, chances are
quite a number of your students show some of these symptoms.
Perhaps there's some information at pdcc-read.com that may be
of use to you.
And a new newsletter:
addition to E-Comp! I am publishing a second monthly newsletter,
"Singular Minds", on matters relating to dyslexia and the constellation
of related learning difficulties. If any of you are interested
in receiving "Singular Minds" just send an email to me at
email@example.com and I'll put you on the mailing
list. And of course, if you know anyone who needs help
with any of the areas mentioned above, I hope you'll refer them
to the website.
Have a wonderful month!