Educating Emergent Bilinguals; policies, programs, and practices for English language acquisition
If you require students to emerge from schooling after 12 years as intelligent, imaginative and linguistically talented, then treat them as clever, inspired and lingually gifted from the first day they arrive in school.
Effective schooling has much more to do with the quality of human relationships orchestrated between teachers and students than with the simple transmission of content. While the teachers do not have absolute freedom, educators do have a choice in the way they structure the interactions in their classrooms. They determine for themselves the social and academic goals they want to achieve with their students.
There are always options with respect to educators’ orientation to students’ language and culture the forms of parent and community participation they encourage and in the ways, they implement pedagogy and assessment.
The choices we make in the classroom are infused with images: images of students as we perceive them now and in the future; perceptions of our own identity as educators. To what extent are we communicating with the students in our classrooms an image of themselves as Capable of becoming bilingual? Able to higher-order thinking and intellectual accomplishments? Fitted of creative and imaginative thinking? Suited for creating literature and art? Adapted to generating new knowledge? Capable of thinking about and finding solutions to social issues?
When students see themselves (and know that their teachers see them.) as Emergent Bilinguals rather than as English language learners (or some other label that defines students by what they lack), they are much more likely to take a price in their linguistic abilities and talents than if they are defined in deficit terms. When students are given opportunities to engage in critical inquiry with their peers aimed at generating knowledge, they are likely to adopt Identities of Competence. These identities of competence propel them into active engagement with literacy and learning.