Lack of language does not equal lack of knowledge.
This is a graphic I made about how I see translanguaging and how multilinguals process, communicate, and express themselves.
As an educator of English language learners and students of diverse backgrounds, I believe that my role is to offer as many opportunities as possible for the students to engage and take initiative of their own learning. Students learn the best when they are given the opportunity to explore their surroundings and are able to connect what they learn to their day-to-day experiences. It is also important for students to know that every mistake is a learning opportunity, and that taking a step out of their comfort zone is occasionally necessary to keep growing as a student and as a person.
With the increasing development of the world, the demographics of our students have shifted from monocultural and monolingual to multicultural, multilingual children. Providing culturally relevant materials an connecting learning to their surroundings not only assist students in feeling included or having familiar content to relate to, but also allows for opportunity for everyone in the class to broaden their perspective and learn about different cultures, traditions, languages, and beliefs. I also recognise that students come to our schools with different interests and abilities. It is my duty to meet the needs of students at various levels of academic and linguistic development, as well as their social emotional needs.
Interactions between the students and the teacher or amongst students themselves is another crucial component of teaching. The students will feel more comfortable asking questions and asking for help and breaking out of their shell if they feel that their teacher cares for them as an individual, rather than only as a student in the class. We, as educators, often make decisions about what happens in the classroom. However, we must create an environment in which students feel that their teachers are approachable. Although this is not a teaching method, I still believe that a strong relationship is crucial in facilitating learning for all students. From greeting students in the hallways every day to showing a genuine interest in their lives, relationship building is key to creating a safe and strong learning community.
Similarly, classroom discussions and group work provides students to interact with each other. It is my belief that every person I meet is an expert at something I am not an expert of, and there is always something new you can learn from everyone you interact with. Through classroom interactions, students will learn not only from the teacher but from each other. In addition, having a student – led work time will allow them to take initiative of their own learning. This contributes to the development of metacognitive awareness, which is essential in developing as a learner. I identify as a Third Culture Kid myself and I hope to use this identity and experience to benefit my teaching and relationship with the diverse group of students at international schools. Although I’ve been speaking English for the majority of my life now, I still remember the challenges and the frustrations I encountered in class everyday as an EL in elementary school. At the same time, I also remember the joy of finally being able to communicate with my peers and realising that lack of English did not make me “stupid” as some of my peers have insinuated; I was just as smart as my peers, I just didn’t have the language to express myself. I believe that this is a common misconception for ELLs at any proficiency level and to those around them, and I hope to combat this discouraging view of the abilities of ELLs. I am confident that I can use my experience of being a former English Language Learner and a Third Culture Kid to relate to, understand, and teach my students better, as well as helping them adjust to the diverse environment they are in.