Students become English teachers to area children

October 31, 2012

By Steven Johnson ’13

Teacher education students will venture into the classrooms at Peoria’s Harrison Community Learning Center to help students, whose native tongue is not English, learn the language.

The collaboration between Bradley and Harrison School started last year when Dr. Helja Antola Crowe, a professor in the Teacher Education department, had one of her Bradley student teachers placed at the school. Working with Harrison School, Dr. Antola Crowe set up a partnership where Bradley students would work with students learning the English language over several days throughout the semester.

“The purpose of this is to have our teaching candidates practice what they need to know, but also to see how kids respond to what they have planned,” Dr. Antola Crowe said.

Students in Dr. Antola Crowe’s class ETE 235, an English language learning course, are using the exercise to discover how to connect with children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The Bradley student teachers will work one-on-one, or in small groups, with Harrison students at their school during the school day.

“These might be children whose native languages are Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, French or something else,” Dr. Antola Crowe said. “We have been studying, in theory, how do we actually connect with our learners when a teacher does not know the language that the child is more proficient in. What could we do to help them learn it the best way?”

Over the last couple of months, Dr. Crowe and her students have been practicing different strategies involving active engagement, which is one of the most important things to do with young students who are learning to speak English for the first time.

“We have been focusing on language development, literacy development and then content instruction,” Dr. Antola Crowe said. “All the different groups are also using some technology and, in the new Westlake Hall, it is wonderful to practice because we have smart boards in every classroom.”