“I’ve been waiting all day to see you!” yelled one of my English Language Learner (ELL) students, a 2nd grade boy from El Salvador, as he accidentally almost knocked over another 2nd grader from Mexico, while running at full speed to meet me. “There’s a girl in my class and she lent me her strawberry eraser. I want to write her to tell her thank you and also that she can borrow my markers if she wants and also that I like her hair. Can you help me?”
For this boy, whose first language is a dialect of the Mayan language, and whose second language is Spanish, learning English will make him trilingual. He is a very recent arrival, with only 2 months in the US, and like the majority of his peers from various countries around the world, he works very hard every day in a mostly English-speaking classroom, except for the two times a day that he gets 1 hour with an ELL teacher.
By definition, language is a system of communication used by a society or group of people.
In reality, language is so much more. It is how we connect, relate to, and support one another. We use language to express our thoughts, and to formulate our ideas and values. We can tell a story and form friendships and community bonds through mutual cultural understanding. [Read more…]