187. I lived in Germany for a while and introduced the concept of the language of math as a foreign language using a German paragraph. It illustrated that the language of math can feel just as foreign as the German paragraph I just read to introduce my lesson but it can be learned just as I learned to speak and understand German. This was a very effective method of catching and maintaining student attention and spawned a discussion about Germany and their cultural differences that has continued throughout the year. I have a word wall that reinforces the vocabulary of math that has proven to be very helpful, too. What are your feelings about using the method I chose in order to introduce Math as a foreign language and the idea of cross cultural learning and understanding? (Incidentally, none of my students speak another language other than English.)
You have a VERY CLEAR IDEA of what it takes to master THE LANGUAGE OF EACH CONTENT AREA. Indeed, the language of math, the language of science, of social studies, health, music, art, the language of each and all content areas IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE TO ALL STUDENTS, to both, English-ONLY-speaking students and non-English speaking students.
The principles of language learning and teaching are the same whether the students are mastering German, Spanish, Chinese, Urdu OR math, science, geography, history, geometry, etc. ALL students must give evidence of mastery of each of the content areas by (1) listening with understanding, (2) speaking, (3) reading, and (4) writing the LANGUAGE OF THE CONTENT AREAS. In essence, ALL teachers are LANGUAGE teachers, whether they teach a language (English, Spanish, Russian, etc.) or a content area.
I am delighted to hear you have a word wall in your class. In response to many questions in my Web Sites, I have explained how to best organize the words for effective and efficient language acquisition and development: By MEANING categories, that is, grouping words by general categories, for example, parts of the body, function of body organs, etc. Keep your words posted at all times so you can point to them and review them as you speak.
Finally, let me assure you that there is plenty to be mastered through the content areas about the many different cultures of the world: Key mathematical, scientific, philosophical, legal, and religious concepts come to us through many other cultures and peoples throughout the world. Teachers should include, as you so incisively point out, many cross-cultural ideas in their content area lessons: Where do the concepts of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" come from? What are the cultural roots of our values? Students who understand that the world was NOT created just yesterday are far superior to students who have no idea "who thought about what and when."
For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:
1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading
Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)
Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.
For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:
CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)
3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406
Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605