Monday, February 4, 2013

No L1 Required: L1 study buddies

 L1 study buddies
(contributed by Dr. Lynn)
            One of the most common L1 strategies that can be used is a L1 study buddy. This strategy is most easily implemented when there are several children who share the same L1. In this strategy, teachers can take advantage of L1 peers whose English language proficiency is more advanced than others. In these cases L1 Study Buddies can be used when the whole class is doing a group assignment or when the teacher is working with a particularly challenging topic that may involve an exorbitant amount of time developing new vocabulary. Teachers should note, however, that dialectal differences can impact the effectiveness of this strategy. Before implementing this strategy, teachers should ensure that students do share enough language to make this a feasible accommodation.
            Vocabulary development can be particularly trying for ELLs, especially when learning new vocabulary where there may not be an extensive existing schema or context. Cardenas-Hagan (2012) recommended six steps for effective vocabulary development. She suggested that students be allowed to have extended discussions with the word and that bilingual glossaries can help reinforce newly learned vocabulary. Using L1 Study Buddies can allow ELLs the opportunity to develop schema for new vocabulary that can then be transferred into the English speaking environment of the class.
            Say, for example, that a 3rd grade teacher is introducing the concept of Fahrenheit and Celsius in a science lesson. This teacher, Mr. Jones, can allow his three Spanish speaking ELLs the opportunity to discuss the topic in Spanish for a few minutes if he knows that one of the students, Jesus, has a high enough English proficiency to understand Mr. Jones’ explanation. Jesus can then have a fairly in-depth conversation with his lower proficiency level classmates (Marta and Alvaro), helping them to build schema for these two new vocabulary terms. When the class comes together to complete a hands-on project, not only has Jesus further developed his knowledge by teaching something to his peers, but Marta and Alvaro are able to take better advantage of the demonstration and hands-on activity done by Mr. Jones. The important part of this strategy is the extended discussion.

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