Wednesday, December 08, 2010

World Languages

It is interesting to observe the evolution of our way of talking about non-English language in a school setting. While I do not know the official explanation of the move from the acronym ESL (English as a Second Language) to ELL (English Language Learning), it is apparent that certain assumptions have been removed from the designation. Indeed, people may well be learning their third or fourth language when they are learning English! The new acronym seems to acknowledge and embrace a wide world of cultures and languages, and certainly here in Brookline ELL teachers work with learners from a very wide range of native languages.

Here at Lawrence our primary "second language" has been Japanese, a fact that has provided a very rich and interesting texture to our school and our school days. Now, through the change in designation, our awareness has been raised and sharpened about the varied opportunities an English-speaking school has to welcome new English language speakers. While our collection of books in Japanese far outnumbers that in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean or French, we are trying to add when possible. A beginning this year has been to freshen our collection of biligual picture dictionaries, which have proved to be very welcome by both teachers and learners.