Sandy Lord, ESL Teacher, Linguistics, Language Development
Sandy Lord, Elementary ESL Teacher, MA Applied Linguistics

In my time as an elementary English Learners teacher in Massachusetts public schools I've been privileged to work with children and families from over a dozen countries speaking more than twenty languages. Even at the elementary level, these students bring a wealth of social, cultural and linguistic knowledge that is constantly impressive; they also bring a strong desire to question and know more. However, their English language skills range from non-existant through nearly fluent. As such, their ability to fully and accurately communicate in the American classroom is a true challenge. 

My curriculum, CIRCLE-ELD, embraces the opportunity to develop native-like English language skills by focusing on the power of speaking and listening. The Massachusetts English Learners standards, WIDA, observes "For ELLs especially, oral language is foundational to literacy development." (bold mine) Others, including both linguists and academic specialists, emphasize that oral language development has a strong and important impact on the development of all 4 domains of language - listening and speaking, and writing and reading.

That suggests I need to focus on getting my students speaking and listening as much as possible. Every day, each of my student's main goal and focus is on using oral language for the entirety of our class. Even while students concentrate during daily literacy activities and invigorate their bodies and minds during our daily warm up they are encouraged to speak and to listen.

The results are strong. My students become confident, competent, and joyous users of English, with of course much variability among them. These young people, part of the next group of citizens to carry on our traditions of perseverance, ingenuity, and democracy, need the right tool to help them integrate into American life while also maintaining their cultural and linguistic background. CIRCLE-ELD is the tool I have created to meet that need. 

The curriculum and all materials are free, ready-to-use, and always expanding for English Learners, their families, teachers, and schools, inside Massachusetts and beyond.