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129. Preventing the Summer Slide: Engaging ELL Students Beyond Workbooks
Episode 12931st May 2024 • Equipping ELLs • Beth Vaucher, ELL, ESL Teachers
00:00:00 00:14:38

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How do we prevent the summer slide with our ELLs?

In this episode of the Equipping ELLs podcast, host Beth Vaucher addresses the critical issue of the summer slide, particularly its impact on English Language Learners. Beth goes beyond traditional workbook solutions, offering dynamic strategies to keep ELL students engaged and learning during the summer break. She highlights the importance of community involvement through local library programs and community center activities. Additionally, Beth discusses the benefits of summer school programs, educational technology, and reading in any language. Tune in for practical tips to help ELLs prevent the summer slide and thrive all summer long.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the Equipping ELLs podcast, where we delve into the unique challenges and opportunities in the world of teaching English Language Learners. Today, we're tackling a critical issue that many of our students face over the summer break—yes, you guessed it—the summer slide. But we're not just talking about any solutions; we’re going beyond the usual workbook to explore more dynamic ways to keep our ELLs engaged and learning. So, let's dive right in!

First off, what exactly is the summer slide? It’s that tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year, over their summer break. And for ELL students, this can mean sliding backwards in their language acquisition, which is something we definitely want to prevent. Now, while workbooks are a common go-to, they're not our only tool. Let’s talk about some alternatives that can really make a difference.

Our first stop is right in your local community. Engaging with community events can be a fantastic way for ELLs to practice language skills in a real-world setting. Think about libraries that host summer reading programs or cultural festivals that celebrate different ethnicities. These not only help in language development but also in building a sense of community and cultural understanding.

These type of free programs and activities might not be known to the families of your ELLs, so it might be as simple as researching a few opportunities happening during the summer and sending that information to your parents at the end of the year.

A few things could be the summer reading program at the library, classes at the community center, museums and the hours they are open, activities through the park and recs program. Just a simple list sent in their native language can help open doors for your students to continue to stay connected this summer.

Moving on, let's chat about summer school programs. Many districts offer a mix of learning and fun activities for a set amount of weeks during the summer, which keeps things engaging for students. They get to practice English in a structured yet relaxed environment, and make new friends along the way. Do the parents of your students know if this is available? Do they have to apply? Again, just sharing the information is extremely helpful for parents to be able to decide what is best for their children this summer so don't be afraid to share multiple times.

Technology can also play a pivotal role. There are several apps out there designed to help with language learning and are friendly for non-English speakers too. Apps like Duolingo, Duolingo ABCs or BBC Learning English or even simpler ones that focus on vocabulary and basic grammar can be great. Parents, setting these up on your device at home can provide an enjoyable way for your child to learn and practice English, even on the go.

And let’s not forget about reading. Encouraging reading at home is crucial, and it doesn’t always have to be in English. Reading in any language fosters a love for reading and maintains literacy skills. Parents, you can read together, share stories, or visit your local library to check out books in your native language. This keeps the brain active, and yes, it really supports English language learning indirectly too.

Lastly, why not mix in some English media? Children love screens, so let’s make the most of it. Guided viewing of English TV shows, educational YouTube channels, or even English-language video games can be quite beneficial. The key here is balance and making sure the content is appropriate and educational. Parents, watching or playing together can also give you a chance to discuss the content, enhancing understanding and language use. You can mix learning English with learning content through Youtube channels like SciShow Kids, Mark Rober, Khan Academy Kids, Storyline Online, Blippi, and National Geographic Kids.

And there you have it—several vibrant strategies to help your ELLs not only prevent the summer slide but actually enjoy their learning journey over the break. It’s all about making learning interactive, engaging, and part of everyday life. For more tips and resources, check out the links in our episode description. And don’t forget to share your own experiences and suggestions with us on our social media pages. We love hearing from you!

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time for another insightful episode.

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