Students learn strategies to teach English language learners

Twenty-four University of Wisconsin-Platteville undergraduate students and three Master of Science in English Education students from China recently learned strategies to teach English language learners at a World-class Instructional Design and Assessment workshop, “Differentiation for Linguistically Diverse Students,” at UW-Platteville. The workshop was sponsored by CESA III, a state agency that provides professional development and other support services to meet the unique needs of schools and children in southwestern Wisconsin.

The purpose of the workshop was to build participants’ knowledge and skills in working with students with diverse needs. Through a variety of engaging activities led by WIDA trainer Marlow Barton, participants learned how to design instruction to support students in their classes who speak a language other than English at home. Highlights included opportunities to engage in case studies, collaborate with peers and learn strategies to support students learning English.

“I learned skills at the workshop that are applicable to my future profession and will make me a better teacher,” said Dalton Miles, a senior English education major at UW-Platteville who is now student teaching at James Madison Academic Campus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I feel better prepared to teach students with linguistic diversity, and I will instantly be able to apply this training to the classroom.”

The collaborative workshop was planned and implemented by Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth, associate professor of education at UW-Platteville; Dr. Edina Haslauer, assistant professor of education at UW-Plattevillle; and Valerie Shaw, Title III coordinator of CESA III and teacher of English as a Second Language at Platteville School District.

“Professional development opportunities are essential for teachers in order to help them to best meet students’ needs,” said Hollingsworth. “I am thrilled that our students could attend this wonderful workshop right here on campus. It was easily accessible for the participants and gave them a glimpse of what professional learning workshops look like.”

“I am very glad that two of my TESOL licensure minor students and three of my Chinese graduate students had the opportunity to attend this wonderful workshop,” said Dr. Yuanyuan Hu, professor of English, program coordinator for the MSEE China program and instructor in the undergraduate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program at UW-Platteville.

Hu noted that the two undergraduate TESOL students are completing their Practicum in TESOL in Darlington Community Schools this semester, for which they are working with English language learners every week.

“Attending the workshop allowed the TESOL students to enhance their knowledge and skills as well as reflect on their experiences in relation to English language learners,” said Hu. “The workshop was also very eye-opening to the three Chinese graduate students, who are in-service English teachers in China and who chose to spend the spring 2019 semester on our campus. It was the first professional workshop they have attended in the United States and it reinforced their understanding of the importance of meeting the needs of diverse learners in their own classroom in China.”

Funding support for the workshop was provided by UW-Platteville’s School of Education.