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Eric.ed.gov – In Their Shoes: Teachers Experience the Needs of English Language Learners through a Math Simulation

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Given the increase in the number of culturally and linguistically diverse students in American schools, it is vital for teacher education programs to address the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) in their courses. Mainstream, general education teachers who did not previously experience this student population in their classes are now seeing high numbers of ELLs among their students. Therefore, all teachers, not just specialist English as Second Language (ESL) or bilingual professionals, need to be prepared to work with ELLs (Lucas & Grinberg, 2008). Teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about ELLs can be influenced by their lack of empathy for these students’ experiences and backgrounds. Many pre-service and inservice teachers need not only to learn strategies to work with ELLs but also to feel what it is like to be language learners themselves. This article describes a math simulation activity in Brazilian Portuguese designed to increase teachers’ awareness of what learners feel when they are immersed in a language they do not understand. This simulation has been utilized in K-12 ESL methods courses and in professional development programs in Indiana. The author contextualizes the simulation through reflection questions that teachers address in their discussion after the simulation. As a way to demonstrate how teachers have engaged in the simulation and developed more empathy for ELLs, this article includes excerpts from teachers’ reflections, collected over four years in different contexts.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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