As regular readers know, each month I interview people in the education world about whom I want to learn more. You can see read those past interviews here.
What led you to teaching English Language Learners, and can you share some of your career highlights?
I came to ESL by way of foreign languages. I lived in France for three years and knew well the difficulties of
learning a new language and culture. I completed my Master’s in language education and eventually gravitated to ESL. I taught elementary ESL
for 28 years. I became interested in helping teachers of ELLs when I saw the difficulty that my students had in their mainstream classroom.
It gave me such a sense of satisfaction to help English language learners. I love learning about other cultures and languages.
What would be the three most important tips you’d suggest that teachers of ELL’s keep in mind?
I think teachers of ELLs need to be cognizant of more than second language acquisition. They need to ascertain their ELLs’ level of language acquisition and their culture and prior schooling. Teaching English learners is so much more than the actual lessons that we teach in the classroom. Teachers of ELLs need to advocate for their students. This is their most important role. Our students can not succeed if they are not part of an effective school environment. My last point is that teachers of ELLs need to know how to engage parents and make them a part of the school culture.
Can you tell us about your latest book, and if you’ve got another one coming up?
I co-authored my most recent book with Debbie Zacarian. “Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas” was published in 2010 by the Association for Supervisors and Curriculum Developers. It is a book for classroom and content area teachers of ELLs. Debbie and I have a new book coming out late next year with Corwin Press that deals with teaching entry and beginning level English learners.
How do you learn and share teaching ideas online?
I am active on Twitter and am especially proud of being co-founder (with Linda Hahner) of #ELLCHAT, an educational discussion about English Language Learners. Twitter provides the most amazing professional development! I have not only met wonderful ESL and classroom teachers of ELLs through Twitter but I also have widened the scope of my interests to include early childhood education and world languages. I am also co-founder (with son Charles) of everythingESL.net which I am proud to say has been around for 12 years.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share?
I left the classroom in 2008 and now have my own consulting business, everythingESL. I travel around the U.S. providing professional development to classroom and subject area teachers of English language learners.
I am currently President of NJTESOL-NJBE, a group of ESL and bilingual teachers and administrators in New Jersey. I have served on the board of NJTESOL-NJBE for nearly 20 years.