Civics for English Learners with online tutors

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor believes that civic education is the key to motivating children to remain active in making a difference.

Civics has recently received a great deal of attention, with many people racing to retain and apply fundamental principles as history unfolds around them. Despite this surge in civic consciousness, many social studies instructors express difficulty with teaching civics in the present political context.

English online tutors of social studies can arrange classrooms in which students feel secure discussing current events and debating themes that many consider contentious. Civic education equips pupils with the competencies and dispositions required in a democracy, such as a feeling of civic responsibility, critical thinking, and initiative. iCivics is devoted to providing all students, especially English language learners, with interesting, high-quality, and effective civic learning resources. 

English language learners comprise an increasing portion of the U.S. public school population, with about 1 in 10 pupils designated as English language learners. This population is incredibly varied, speaking over 400 languages across urban, suburban, exurban, and rural school districts, with Spanish being the most prevalent. The majority of English language learners are students of color who may encounter systematic racism both within and outside of the classroom. How do we teach this student population about civics in a way that will have an impact? How can we assist them in acquiring the information and skills necessary to prosper in America?

English proficiency correlates with academic achievement and plays a crucial role in training students to be knowledgeable and engaged. With just 1% displaying competency, ELs/MLs had the lowest civic awareness scores of all populations examined. In reality, four out of five ELs lack even "basic" civics knowledge. Therefore, English language learners and all students require access to high-quality civic education.

"We will not be able to prepare global citizens if they cannot discuss or think critically. And the argument must be open and respectful." Dr. Socorro Herrera, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Tutors require resources that promote civic involvement and skills in a way that is engaging, culturally appropriate, and adapted to the needs of all students, including English Language Learners and Multilingual Students. Game-based learning is an excellent method for meeting this demand. Experiential learning is a joyful and engaging method of instruction for pupils. 

 While playing, they learn about civic institutions and governance. They may also make mistakes and attempt again. All of this helps students develop the self-assurance and critical-thinking abilities necessary to participate in class debates.

"If we accomplish this well, not only will our ELs/MLs have access to study the language, but they will also have the necessary space to evaluate the inner workings of America.” Dr. Katherine Barko-Alva, Assistant Professor of the ESL/Bilingual Education program, explains, "In my own formation as an immigrant, this was the case." She continued, "To come here and have a lesson where students can examine the distinctions and consequences of those behaviors. How effective is that? I appreciate culturally and linguistically varied biography-based training for this reason.”

According to Larry Ferlazzo, English and Social Studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School, "I believe that civics education should be an integral element of the lessons we teach English Language Learners" (and, of course, for all students).  In their native countries, political involvement has not always been a safe or viable option. Schools in the United States have long seen one of their jobs as cultivating responsible citizens; thus, we must provide our English Language Learners with the information and skills necessary to become "active citizens"—to understand not just how our political system functions, but also how to utilize their influence to make that system and our communities better.  It is one thing to be able to pass a civics or citizenship exam, but I believe that as educators, we must also provide our students with the ability to utilize this knowledge to effect social change."

Where can educators discover techniques and recommendations for teaching civics to English language learners?  The experts have compiled the following free materials and platforms to help you get started:

iCivics provides nine games with EL/ML supports, including Extension Packs containing game-specific extra activities and hints.

Confianza features dozens of free blogs for content teachers, tutors English (online), coaches, and leaders on helping multilingual learners and their families.

LiveXP allows for communication on numerous themes. For instance, in sessions with a tutor English online, you can address topics such as citizenship. You can select a suitable teacher using the website's sorting criteria and a trial lesson.

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