Millions Of Kids Learn English At School. Teaching Them Remotely Hasn't Been Easy
Added 02-24-21 12:07:02pm EST - “For children learning English, speaking the language can be a way to fit in. But teachers worry that remote learning means some students aren't hearing even casual English outside their classes.” - Npr.org
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A year ago, the kindergartners learning English in Tanya Gan Lim's class were thriving. Back then, she'd bring in props and pictures to help her students learn the language and sound out words. Then she'd lavish them with praise, even if they stumbled, to build their confidence.
Lim teaches in Prince George's County Public Schools, just outside Washington, D.C. She is used to planning every minute of class, but that's harder to do now that class time is punctuated with frozen screens, garbled audio and children wandering away from the camera. Sometimes, her kindergartners don't have supplies. On a recent morning, Lim tells her class it's time for a writing exercise, and a little boy interrupts.
Needless to say, Lim's job teaching English has gotten a lot harder during the pandemic. How much harder? Lim laughs and says she can't quantify it. "Maybe 10 times?"
Five million children in the U.S. rely on public schools to teach them English, and those kids have been hard hit by online schooling. Children learning English are more likely to struggle in school and drop out, and school districts in several states, including Maryland, Virginia and California, already have data showing these students are falling further behind.
Among the challenges: There are fewer resources for teaching English learners remotely, and many English learners are less likely to have access to technology. Even in a school district like Prince George's, which has distributed free devices and mobile Wi-Fi units, these children may not have support at home to navigate technology.
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