2021 Maurice Hillman Essay Contest - April 2021

Teaching Science to English Language Learners: Building on Students’ Strengths

Can a student’s cultural background support learning in science? Or is concentrating on the specialized vocabulary of science the best way to help English language learners learn science? This book addresses these and other pressing questions you face when working with students whose linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as well as their languages, are different from your own.

Teaching Science to English Language Learners combines research findings with classroom vignettes and the perspectives of teachers. The chapter authors strive to support your efforts to see diversity as a resource—rather than as an obstacle—in the science classroom. Among their topics:

• Building on what students know and recognizing students’ strengths
• Teaching vocabulary for learning
• Supporting the development of academic language
• Challenges associated with learning a second language
• Types of programs for teaching English language learners
• Using students’ cultural resources

Mastering the principles outlined in the book will give any teacher a broad base of knowledge from which to draw. But the book also urges you to think deeply about the roles of diversity. It offers valuable information for reflecting on, experimenting with, and adapting your instructional practices. As the authors note, “the vision of science teaching and learning put forward in this volume is one in which English language learners have as much to teach their fellow students as they have to learn from them.”

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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