English Language Learner
So, then if we look at a third group of students who often struggle, that would be our students who are second language learners or learning English as a second language. So, if we think about what foundational skills we have to have to learn a new language, we’ve got to consider the grammatical system. You have to be able to focus and sustain your focus, and you have to be able to have a good working memory to hang on the new to the new words that you learn. You also have to be able to discriminate the individual sounds within those words which is difficult if not impossible if you don’t have those phonemic basics or connections in your brain map. And then the grammatical system adds a whole new twist to it if the grammatical system of the new language is similar to the existing language, then it’s much easier to make that transition, but if there are two totally different systems than the brain has to add a new grammatical system on to the existing one, which just adds to the difficulty of that task. So, then we’ve got the extra challenge of learning English, because we know that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn and so it’s really important to help students perceive that internal detail or the individual sounds of words to help them navigate their way through developing English as a second language. So, they’ve got a lot to do and a lot of skills to develop, and if those second language learners are from poverty or perhaps also have a learning disability on top of learning a second language, then that adds a whole different level of complexity to what they’re doing.
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