Making Space for Native Languages in Newcomer Classrooms

Efrain Tovar

Making Space for Native Languages in Newcomer Classrooms

Efraín Tovar
1995 BA in Liberal Studies
2006 MA in Educational Technology
English Development Teacher at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Selma, CA

At Abraham Lincoln Middle School, in Selma, California, English language development teacher Efraín Tovar creates a vibrant classroom community for newcomers, immigrant students who have limited English proficiency. In Efraín’s class, students come from a wide range of countries—Mexico, Yemen, India, Egypt, Guatemala, and beyond—and he uses this diversity not only to create a safe and welcoming space for learning, but also to further develop and personalize each student’s English language learning curriculum. Efraín is an advocate for translanguaging, the practice of encouraging students to use all their linguistic resources to learn academic content and ultimately to be able to move fluently between two or more languages. 

To learn more about the research mentioned in the video, see this 2023 EdSource article exploring why bilingual students do better on tests than native English speakers, or explore this 2011 study about English language learners and academic achievement.

Video originally published online on the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

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Sena Ali

Sena Ali