Native American Language Rentention: How can educators help preserve indigenous languages and better accommodate Native Americans?
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English language learners (ELL) are becoming increasingly prevalent in the American classroom. Students are coming into the school systems with little to no knowledge of the English language. These ELL students thus must begin learning the English language while attempting to complete their coursework completely, effectively, end efficiently. With recent requirements proposed by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ELL students are required to pass standardized tests and meet learning standards proposed by the NCLB. Although some supports and resources are provided for ELL students, these students still struggle to keep-up with curriculum, with language being the main reason they fall behind. As a future educator, I would like to teach in New Mexico. I was born in New Mexico and lived there for about ten years before moving to Illinois. In order to become a better teacher and prepare myself for teaching in New Mexico, I think it is extremely important to understand the language needs of my student population. Although there are high populations of Latino students there are also high populations of Native American students in New Mexican schools. For the purposes of my research, I will be mainly focusing on the Native American population and concerns with Native American language and ELL students. Studying Native American ELL students is extremely important. For the purposes of this paper I will mainly focusing on language retention. I want to be able to understand the complexities that come with teaching Native American ELL students who both have a desire to learn as well as a desire to retain their language. According to my Native American history professor, Dr. Nicholas, Native Americans view education as empowerment, but also value their langugae. Unfortunately, in the American education system, maintaining one's first language is difficult. To understand the complexities of Native American language rentention I will also be researching first and second language attrition, as well as language maintenance. I will apporach this as a research paper with the intent to discuss the implications in the classroom. The implications will include methods in the classroom for teaching ELL students, specifically those whoe first language is a Native American language, strategies teachers can use to help ELL students succeed, and idea for future research. I would also like to discuss actions administrators and schools themselves can take to help ELL students achieve success in the classroom.