Using Students' Native Languages in the Classroom: Rationale and Strategies for Monolingual Teachers
The number of English Language Learners in American public schools is increasing every year, yet these students are not achieving academic or English proficiency as measured by standardized assessments. Researchers have documented the use of students' native languages as a valuable academic resource tool for English Language Learners. Research shows that when teachers incorporate students' native languages into classroom instruction, students increase their metalinguistic awareness, learn more academic content, increase their English proficiency, and have more well-developed identities and self-esteem. However, incorporating students' native languages into the classroom can be very difficult in multilingual classrooms or in classrooms in which the teacher only speaks English. Furthermore, it is a political and emotional debate due to its roots in Americanism and English as a national language. However, the use of students' native languages can influence the success of English Language Learners in our school system. Therefore, finding strategies that allow teachers to incorporate students' native languages into the classroom, even when the teacher does not speak the language, is a vital issue for educators today. This paper addresses the benefits of incorporating students' native languages into daily classroom instruction, methods and strategies for using students' native languages, and an example of using students' native languages in a small-group setting.