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Reading program benefits young english language learners

Thanks to a unique partnership between with Mount Royal University’s Department of Education, which integrates Calgary Reads’ programs directly into its curriculum, student teachers engage one-on-one with children, supporting early intervention with struggling readers. The Read with ELLs program brings student volunteers to schools to help English language learners in grades two and three expand their vocabulary and practice their reading skills using an intensive reading curriculum.

The Read with ELLs program gives struggling students the chance to have individualized time to read and to speak about their culture and languages in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Tanisha Quintyn, Mount Royal University, Student Volunteer

Tanisha is working with Awut and Sher, two students at St. Peter School, to perfect vocabulary words they can then add to their ‘word jars’. After 8 weeks, their jars are full of words and they are proud of their learning. They are engaged and animated as Tanisha reads aloud to them.

Tanisha believes this has been a powerful learning experience for her and for the young students. “I have enjoyed so many aspects of the program and I learned so much about teaching by working with my students every week. I think that the one on one time for the ELL students is essential, and makes them feel like their learning is important. Although teachers try to give individualized time to students in the classroom, sometimes it can’t always be achieved. The Read with ELLs program gives struggling students the chance to have individualized time to read and to speak about their culture and languages in a comfortable and welcoming environment.”

When asked about a favourite moment, Tanisha recalls a lesson when the students taught her a word in their first language, Dinka. “They taught me the word bäär, which means come. They told me how their mothers use this word when they want them to come to them. They even acted it out for me, putting their hands on their hips and acting “mother like.”

Upon completion of the eight week program, the students take home a collection of books that reinforce the program themes of identity and belonging.

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