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ESL Philosophy Statement

Jessica LaFranca-Peterson
ESL Endorsement
Doane College
Fall 2015

One of the most important concepts I have learned throughout the course of my teaching
and studies is every student is an individual, with specific learning needs. There is not a onesize-fits-all model that can be used in the teaching of ESL students. Rather, effective teachers
must utilize and incorporate a variety of strategies in order for their students to acquire the
intricacies of a new language.
Emphasis on students culture, and creating a welcoming classroom environment is one
of the starting points to a successful learning experience. Teachers can do this by building on
students background knowledge and incorporating students previous learning into the current
curriculum. Students, as well as their parents, need to feel their culture is valued and
respected. Communication with parents, although difficult in times, ensures that teachers and
parents have similar goals in regards to the student. When time is spent on this, students are
more likely to feel comfortable sharing their ideas in the classroom, as well as taking risks in
their learning.
The acceptance and promotion of the students primary language (L1) can also have
distinct advantages. Our students come to us with different learning experiences. Students with
formal training in their L1 have been shown to acquire English at a much faster rate than peers
with little, to no, formal training. Time should be spent getting to know the students individual
strengths in order to identify areas and strategies for improvement. Encouraging ESL students
to use their primary language in the classroom should be promoted, rather than discouraged.
Learner-centered activities are essential to the ESL classroom because they provide
students with authentic purposes for learning. One way teachers can determine learner-

centered activities is through the use of questioning. Student input in determining the curriculum
leads to greater interest in the content, thus leading to a higher rate of language development. I
have spent time researching and developing lessons that are interactive and engaging.
Through the use of surveys before, during, and after lessons, I can ascertain what is most
enjoyable for students and how they learn best. This helps me to plan future lessons for small
and whole group reading and writing.
It is highly advantageous to provide ESL students with the proper supports in order for
them to be successful learners. In my teaching, I incorporate a variety of graphic organizers
both in reading and in writing. These organizers contain written directions, sentence stems, and
visuals. I begin my lessons with explicit instruction on how to utilize the organizers. After
modeling this with students, I allow them time to practice with partners before moving to
independent practice. I have found this to be effective in scaffolding students learning of a