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Extended Day and English Language Learning: A Natural Pair

Afterschool is a perfect setting for boosting language learning for English language learners, and for all kids. The very things that make afterschool terrific—kids playing and working together, lots of hands-on activities, a caring, inclusive community with good peer and adult relationships—these are the same elements for building language skills. Language learning happens when children feel safe to try out those new words and sounds, without fear of being criticized. Fluency and vocabulary grow with free flowing talking around shared activities, tasks, and interests. Use extended day and afterschool time to provide lots of language-rich games and activities to promote talking and to build relationships at the same time, such as committees and community service projects. Offer choices among individual, pair, and small group activities. Encourage creative expression and presentations; support ‘active listening’ among the audiences. Talking and listening skills underlie literacy—so talk it up in your program!