The Multilingual Glossaries are available in 14 languages and accessible to all Wit & Wisdom® educators in the Teacher Resource Pack. In this month’s post, Implementation Leader Heidi Foley shares why multilingual learners (MLLs) need additional vocabulary support and how teachers can leverage the Multilingual Glossaries in effective Wit & Wisdom instruction.
The Value of Students’ Home Languages
Asset-focused educators realize that students come to school with far more valuable resources than notebooks, pencils, and backpacks: Students bring their unique life experiences and knowledge to the classroom. Teachers often invite students to use these resources when accessing background knowledge on a topic or making cross-curricular connections. Incorporating students’ assets into instruction makes content meaningful and can accelerate learning.
MLLs, who often need additional support in ELA classrooms, also come to school with valuable assets. Teachers can support MLLs by tapping into one of those assets—students’ home languages, which are powerful resources for learning grade-level content and achieving English proficiency.
Students who speak languages other than English can transfer skills and knowledge from their home language to build their English vocabulary (Genesee). Vocabulary is a key component of reading comprehension. Building students’ vocabulary matters because readers cannot understand what they read without knowing most of the words’ meanings (National Institute for Literacy). For MLLs, acquiring English vocabulary remains critical to their success as English readers.
The Wit & Wisdom Multilingual Glossaries offer students access to the lessons’ vocabulary words by providing high-quality translations into students’ home languages. The Multilingual Glossaries help students learn English, as well as strengthen and enhance students’ home languages with academic vocabulary. Via the Multilingual Glossaries, Wit & Wisdom instruction continues to build on students’ stored home language knowledge, supporting their vocabulary development.
MLLs’ vocabulary can grow in both languages when teachers provide opportunities to connect words in home languages to English counterparts, engage in explicit and deep vocabulary instruction, and use vocabulary in both English and home languages. Tools such as the Multilingual Glossaries add to the valuable resources students bring to the classroom.
How to Use Multilingual Glossaries
Below are some effective ways to use the Multilingual Glossaries as a flexible classroom tool.
- Preview vocabulary. Wit & Wisdom PrologueTM lessons for Grades 6–8 preview key content and language to help MLLs fully engage in Wit & Wisdom lessons; similarly, previewing important vocabulary words can offer effective support.
One possible preview routine includes introducing the word, its part of speech, and its definition in English and in the student’s home language. Then pair the word with an image and use the word in a sentence. K–5 teachers can preview new vocabulary with their students by playing vocabulary videos in the Language Supports section of the Multilingual Learner Resources.
- Combine the Multilingual Glossary and the Vocabulary Journal. Wit & Wisdom’s vocabulary instruction design helps students better comprehend complex texts, broadens and deepens their knowledge of words and word parts, and increases their ability to find the meaning of unknown words. Students can achieve these outcomes with explicit vocabulary instruction, which often requires students to use their Vocabulary Journals. Rather than replace Vocabulary Journals, the Multilingual Learner Glossaries intentionally support the journals’ use.
In the Deep Dive from Grade 3 Module 1 Lesson 13, students encounter three academic vocabulary words: fiction, nonfiction, and biography. In the Deep Dive’s Launch section, students record the words and their definitions in Vocabulary Journals.
MLLs might also access these words in the Multilingual Glossary. There, they can annotate the words for cognates and, with the support of an MLL specialist, deepen their understanding of the words in both languages.
In Wit & Wisdom, Deep Dive vocabulary instruction goes beyond recording words in the Vocabulary Journal. Deep Dive instruction builds students’ understanding of new vocabulary by exploring words and their parts. In this Deep Dive’s Learn section, all students apply their understanding of the vocabulary words by answering questions and examining morphemes. As MLLs continue to practice vocabulary words in Vocabulary Journals, writing, and discussion, they build their conceptual understanding of academic vocabulary.
- Share the Multilingual Glossary with students’ families. Educators can build relationships with students and their families by welcoming their knowledge, languages, and lived experiences into learning. At each module’s start, teachers should send home a Family Tip Sheet and the Multilingual Glossary in students’ home languages. Caregivers and students can then discuss module vocabulary, knowledge, questions, and texts in their home language to successfully prepare students for the module content.
Providing students and families with these materials in their home languages affirms what research shows: A student’s home language is an asset to learning!
In addition to some newly updated resources, the flexible Wit & Wisdom Multilingual Glossaries support MLLs as they deepen their understanding of grade-level content and develop English language skills. By tapping into students’ home languages, teachers can leverage that knowledge to enhance learning.
Genesee, Fred. “The Home Language: An English Language Learner’s Most Valuable Resource.” ¡Colorín colorado! https://www.colorincolorado.org/article/home-language-english-language-learners-most-valuable-resource.
National Institute for Literacy. Put Reading First, Kindergarten Through Grade 3: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read, third ed., 2006, http://witeng.link/0892.
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Heidi Foley is a Great Minds Implementation Leader for Humanities, supporting the western region of the United States. Heidi began working with Wit & Wisdom as a literacy coach in Baltimore City Public Schools as they implemented their new curriculum, which included Wit & Wisdom and Geodes. Prior to that, she served as an evaluator and coach for Washington DC Public Schools, a program specialist for Reading First across the state of New Mexico, and as faculty for teacher certification programs in California and Maryland. Heidi began her career in education in southern California, where she worked with a diverse student population of multi-language learners in grades K-6 for nearly 20 years.