- Creating a positive environment for English language learners (ELLs) through practices like peer mentoring can help them feel more engaged in their education, educators Serena Sachar and Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar write in Edutopia.
- Understanding and becoming familiar with a student’s background and culture can show children that teachers and other classmates respect their heritage, and these details can also be woven into lessons to engage them more in their own learning. By assigning an ELL peer mentor to a new student, this child has an opportunity to establish his or her first real connection in class or make a new friend.
- Parents should also be encouraged to get involved. Teachers can additionally set up home visits, but before doing so, they should make sure they understand the specific cultural norms for the family to avoid any potential misunderstandings or miscommunications.
Curriculum administrators can put a number of steps in play for ELLs to ensure there are opportunities for students to not just expand their language skills, but also to feel more connected to their peers. Assigning mentors has long been seen as a way to fold new students into a school or help a children transition from one grade to another. Having a mentor can be a profoundly positive experience, both for beginning teachers and students looking for role models in a career they hope to pursue.
Freshman peer-mentoring programs can also boost academic success and improve graduation rates. Mentoring is also another way to help reinforce social and emotional learning (SEL) skills in classes. Children who participate in peer mentoring can “…facilitate the personal, social, and academic growth of both mentors and mentees,” according to a report, “Building Effective Peer Mentoring Programs in Schools.”
ELL children who serve as mentees and mentors can learn about different cultures, heritages and backgrounds from each other. By understanding the unique paths and reasons that brought the other to the same place — their school — they can also develop compassion and empathy, weaving these into the communication skills they're developing as well.