Debunking the Myths of English Language Learners
It is critical to dispel common misconceptions about the educational system to create a more effective support system for students. The future of education is dependent on looking back at past failures and not only learning from them to move forward but also to rise to higher levels of achievement. Several myths are prevalent in English Language classrooms and are often accepted as standard practice.
Identifying these myths will assist us in meeting the needs of our students and in providing them with better service.
Myth #1: Students are unable to communicate in their native language in the classroom.
Even though this rule is outdated and has numerous negative consequences for students, there are still many teachers who adhere to it in their classrooms. Students are more likely to use English for communicative purposes in social situations if they can use their first language among peers who also speak the same language as them. Another reason for allowing students to use their first language in the classroom is to ensure that they fully comprehend the instructions. It is in this way that the student is better able to concentrate on the task at hand rather than being distracted by the task of attempting to comprehend the instructions.
(myth #2). When students are speaking English, they need to be corrected
When a student is speaking, it is common for teachers to feel tempted to correct their grammar or pronunciation. However, it is preferable to allow the students to speak freely without interfering with their speech with the act of correcting. Correcting students’ work frequently lowers their self-esteem and diminishes their ability to exercise agency and voice in the classroom. Students will eventually be able to recognize grammar and sentence structure patterns on their own with enough practice in oral communication over time and with lots of practice. Between now and then, teachers should assist students when they are speaking by offering assistance when the student requests it. If corrective strategies in the classroom are required, they should be carried out in a private setting with kindness and consideration.
Myth #3: All English language learners are descended from immigrant families.
Many language learners are not immigrants, but rather are native-born citizens of the United States. Some language learners are also international students who are in the country for some time to further their studies. For us to effectively meet the needs of our learners and create a safe learning environment for them, it is critical to be mindful of and sympathetic to their backgrounds.
Myth #4: To learn English, students must assimilate into the culture of North America.
Assimilation is the process of changing or acquiring certain characteristics of a social group. Many teachers are under the impression that for students to be successful in language acquisition, they must first adopt and assimilate into the culture of North America. Always remember that the two processes run in complete isolation from one another.
Independent of whether or not they assimilate to North American cultural practises, students can and do learn the language. Understanding that the two processes are unrelated will assist teachers in being supportive of students’ learning of the new culture, including its practises and ideologies, as they progress through their schooling. In this way, teachers can serve as a support system for students as they navigate new cultural understandings and attempt to make sense of what is often a confusing and overwhelming process.
Myth #5: All English language learners come from similar backgrounds, have similar cultures, and have similar socio-economic statuses.
Although this may appear to be an obvious myth, it is common for teachers to unconsciously regard English language learners as a group of students rather than as individuals. It is critical to shift this mindset and shift the focus away from an individualistic perspective to one that is focused on the student. English language learners are frequently so dissimilar from one another that they are unable to relate to their peers even though they are both English language learners. Reminding ourselves that our language learners do not share the same culture, religion, socio-economic background, race, or other characteristics as we do allows us to see them as the unique individuals that they are and to appreciate them as such. Knowing who students allow you to connect with them on a deeper level, which is the only way to reach their minds and hearts.