English was the third language my student, who primarily spoke Dutch, would learn by second grade. She knew how to read in Dutch, but it was laborious and slow. She didn’t enjoy reading, so she wasn’t enthusiastic when it was time for her to learn how to speak and read in English.

The problem was, I was her English language development teacher and I don’t speak Dutch.

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When educators approach this type of obstacle, they first have to get to know their student. I invited my student’s mom to come to a meeting where we talked about her past experiences in school, and we came up with a personalized plan so we could target what she needed. I knew immediately that she would be a successful English learner, because once you’ve acquired a second language, learning another is not going to be as hard.

About the Author:

Carol Behel teaches English language development at Weeden Elementary School in Florence and won Alabama’s Teacher of the Year in 2019.