Recently, ColorínColorado collaborated with Sean Pang, an award-winning educator who teaches English at Rockville High School in Maryland. Mr. Pang is a former ELL himself and, in a brief video, he describes how his experience as an ELL in the classroom shaped his academic involvement.
When asked about his ELL experience, Mr. Pang stated: “I definitely went from a very outgoing kind of kid to this incredibly shy kid… only because I was afraid to talk. If I opened my mouth I was stupid.” Mr. Pang highlights a very important aspect of English language learning, the affective filter which can inhibit ELLs from participating. Mr. Pang was able to circumvent this behavior outside of the classroom with his brothers with whom he would joke and play, but he had a difficult time relating to his classmates.
Lydia Breiseth, manager at ColorínColorado, explains “That the child that you see in front of you who is an English language learner, you are not seeing a full representation of who they are, who they are at home, what they know how to do in their native language… certainly the question of not always being able to see a child’s full intelligence, if you’re looking at one thing which is whether or not they speak English.”
The interview concludes with the understanding that knowing the children in your classroom is an investment, meaning that your knowledge of your students should often go beyond the classroom. As educators, we know that a child is more than what you see in their academic performance.
TWIN-CS wishes to promote safe educational space in which our students learn with and from each other. We hope that in the future we can better help ELLs circumvent these issues of insecurity and self-consciousness, but this improvement only comes from identifying that there is an issue in the first place.
Please keep following the blog to hear more about teachers from around the world!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Assistant