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CLRT Institute Topic 3.3 - Vignette 2.2

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (CLRT) Topic 3.3 - Vignette 2.2 from Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learner Students: Research to Practice.

Vignette 2.2 Ethnic Studies with Multilingual High School Students

Ms. Connie So, a Cantonese and English-speaking ethnic studies teacher, has a large population of Multilingual (ML) students who are newcomer English Learner (EL) students (i.e., students who have been in United States schools for only one or two years and are at the Emerging level of English language proficiency). She believes that it is very important to integrate speaking, reading, listening, and writing with intellectually rich content learning, as this tends to motivate students and help accelerate their language and literacy development. What Ms. So loves about teaching ethnic studies is that students engage meaningfully with grade-level content and academic English and feel connected to a curriculum that is not only relevant for them but also about them. She sees ethnic studies as a place where students’ experiences are valued and everyone has something to contribute. She is working with other teachers in her district in a community of practice to implement the ethnic studies course.

In the first unit, Ms. So focuses on identity and narrative, which is particularly important for her ML students who are mostly immigrants. It centers the experience of ML and immigrant students by asking them to develop an autoethnographic project that delves into their lives and their journeys to the United States. Using the following framing questions, she has the students look at three major parts of their identity: (1) How has your homeland culture shaped your ethnic identity? (2) Has your identity changed by being in the United States? If so, how? (3) Have you been able to maintain your homeland culture? If so, what parts? (4) Has school contributed to the maintenance of your ethnic identity? If so, how? If not, explain why not.

Ms. So invites the students to discuss the questions in small groups and then facilitates a whole-group discussion so students can share ideas and learn from one another. Later, students will use their notes from these conversations, as well as notes and resources from other activities designed to scaffold academic writing, to write an autoethnography about themselves. She encourages students to include their home language(s) for parts of their essay (i.e., to use translanguaging). She provides example essays from writers, like Gloria Anzaldúa, who write in English but are not afraid to include Spanish to express themselves. She uses these essays as mentor texts for students to learn from, explore, and emulate. The students are engaged in Ms. So’s class because not only are they learning to read, write, listen, and speak in English, but they also feel seen and heard, and they feel valued as thinking people who are able to engage in grade-level academic learning.

Questions:   Migrant Education Office | 916-319-0851
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Recently Posted in Migrant/International