About 10 percent of students nationally are English language learners, a population facing particular challenges during a time of online learning. But the current scenario also offers some rare opportunities, says Ramón Martínez, an assistant professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education.
For one thing, the distance “creates an opportunity for communication through correspondence,” says Martínez, whose research examines language and literacy among students of color, with a focus on bilingual Chicano and Latinx youth.
“Often in language and literacy instruction, we try to get kids to imagine and invoke particular audiences,” he says. With the pandemic keeping students physically apart from people in their lives, they now kids have authentic audiences for their communication—whether that’s in writing, texting or video gaming.
On this episode of School’s In, Martinez joins GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about the challenges and opportunities for English language learners during this period of remote learning. He also shares his experience working with parents and educators in one California county to build lessons around activities English learners are already doing at home, such as cooking.
Martinez hears teachers and parents express concerns about kids at home watching movies and playing video games, but he suggests taking advantage of their interest as opportunities for language learning.
“We want to tap into what’s happening at home and understand better what kids are actually doing,” he says. “That can inform the instructional opportunities that we design for them remotely.”
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