Dr Rich McGrath Blogs about Challenges of Teaching English Language Learners
Submitted by: Dr. Rich McGrath, Educator
(OPENPRESS) February 26, 2012 -- Dr. Rich McGrath (www.drrichmcgrath.com) is an expert in all phases of education, particularly versed in school-wide reform of inner city schools; with experience leading a school of students with over 90% poverty and over 60% English Language Learners.
Dr. McGrath discussed in a recent blog the challenges of teaching English Language Learners. As an instructional leader, the principal needs to prepare teachers for the unique challenges that ELLs bring to the classroom. Most faculty members recall taking another language in high school. The instruction was often delivered as lecture from a textbook. Students learned to conjugate verbs and memorize the meaning of words, but seldom learned to speak fluently. These methods of instruction for ELLs are equally ineffective. Teachers need a toolkit of effective strategies that work!
Anyone who has learned a second language fluently reports the biggest impact on language acquisition was being forced to speak it. Ironically, production is the one of the last aspects of language automaticity to develop, yet most critical.
Dr. Kate Kinsella, San Francisco State University, advocates teachers hold students responsible for using academic vocabulary. Students need many opportunities to use English, but this alone is not enough. When students speak to one another, they often use social language, even in an academic setting.
When teachers structure instruction effectively, students begin to use rich language reflective of mature vocabulary speakers. Students can only be expected to use academic language if it is explicitly taught, monitored by the teacher, and believe that all students can learn it.
Dr. McGrath has served as principal since 2004. Before his career as a principal, he was a reading consultant for Northwest Area Education Agency for five years; a classroom teacher for fifteen years for Sioux City Community Schools, Iowa and Aurora Public Schools, Colorado.
A graduate of University of Denver, Colorado, Dr. McGrath studied education under Ellin Oliver Keene, noted education author. Dr. McGrath received his Master's in School Administration from University of Northern Iowa and then earned his doctorate from The University of South Dakota in Curriculum and Instruction.
School Administrators of Iowa recognized Dr. Richard McGrath as one of the leading elementary school principals in Iowa in 2011. Dr. McGrath's passion is to ensure that all children are reading at grade level or better. McGrath has served as principal in a diverse school district in Iowa for nearly a decade. His blogs are updated regularly and thousands of followers are watching and tweeting this academic thought leader. Sign up for Twitter to follow Dr. Rich McGrath @drrichmcgrath. Insights, news, and best-practices can be followed daily.