Teachers are a vital part of any community - as they pass on knowledge to children and teens, while preparing them to be successful adults who are imporant contributors to society. Part caregiver, part educator, teachers are also responsible for cultivating the minds of the nation's children - a role that influences where the next generation will take the world. One aspect of the position that has changed in recent decades is the number of non-native English speakers who have entered American classrooms. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of school-age children who spoke a language besides English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million from 1980 to 2009.
This influx of new cultures and languages has driven the demand for teachers who specialize in English Language Learning. By specializing in English Language Learners with your Early Education degree, you will help solidify the future of non-native children in a positive learning environment. Here are some of the signs that you may want to consider this specialization:
First and foremost, English Language Learner degree candidates must display a natural skill and understanding with of the way different languages operates. This knowledge includes the logic behind language, linguistics, sentence structure, and word definitions. Furthermore, these teachers must be able to communicate across language barriers to students the new and complex English language. While the majority of English Language Learners entering American schools come from Hispanic backgrounds, there are a variety of different languages that are becoming commonplace in the classroom - Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish to name a few. Language teachers must be prepared to educate children from a wide variety backgrounds.
Children in English Language Learner programs require more than just knowledge of a new language - their education also necessitates understanding a different culture. As such, teachers must possess great cultural sensitivity and awareness in helping students adjust to the intricacies and cultural norms that they will encounter everyday in the U.S. While doing this, English Language Learner teachers must also help educate their students about other students' cultures found in the classroom. Such early knowledge can help promote a sense of equality and sensitivity between students that will extend into their lives outside of school for the rest of their lives.
If you find these abilities concurrent with your educational pursuits, then you might want to consider specializing in English Language Learners as a part of your Early Childhood Education degree.