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Language Learning and the Summer Slide

Language learning and the summer slide

With the summer holidays fast approaching now might be a good time to put in place some strategies to support your students to maintain or even grow their level of English over the holiday period. Many of our ELLs' speak another language at home and don’t necessarily have many opportunities to use English during the school holidays.  

One suggestion is to talk with your students about the importance of continuing to use English over the holidays and then to brainstorm how they could do this. Make sure they develop ideas to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing of English.  Maybe send a copy of their ideas home to parents/caregivers with a letter from you which contains you messages about language maintenance. You could attach links to some useful online tools/games // sites and encourage library membership.Try out some of these digital tools in class over the coming weeks so your students become familiar with them. If they are not already members of your local library consider a class visit and help them and their family to fill out membership forms.You may also need to assist them with navigating local transport options.

Another idea might be to encourage your students to have play dates over the holidays with someone who speaks a different first language than themselves.  Practice the language forms they would need to be able to invite someone over and telephone etiquette etc.They may need space to exchange phone numbers/email addresses etc. Even going to a movie is a chance to listen to English being spoken with strong visual support.  

Last year I wrote on this same topic you can read it in the archives under summer slide.

Below I share some more readings most of these are American and reading them makes me very grateful that our summer break is only for 6 weeks.

1.       Summer reading: a strategic approach The National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools

2.       The summer slide and summer reading research The National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. This page summarises the research both here in New Zealand and overseas and has links to the research reports. This report states:

Although there is limited New Zealand research, what has been done supports international research. It shows that:

·         the consequences are cumulative and long lasting

·         the slide can have a powerful influence on reading scores throughout high-school and beyond

·         low-income children fall further behind than their classmates.

·         the loss is less pronounced or absent in students who have access to books and holiday learning experiences such as travel, museum visits etc.

3.       TeachMeetNZ Fuatino Leaupepe-Tuala sharing Summer Slide and Holiday Readingon You Tube

4.       Summer Slide, ELLs, and the Common Core, By Diane Staehr Fenner on Colorin Colarado  This post is packed full of links, tips and resources. It makes a good starting point for exploring this topic a little further.

5.       The not-so-secret ELL summer slide problem that no one has quantified By Susan Gonzalezon Chalkbeat Colarado published: August 7, 2015.

6.       Avoiding the Summer Slide in Reading and Writing, by Heather Wolpert-Gawron  posted JUNE 10, 2014 on Edutopia.

7.       10 Tips for Language Learners to Avoid the Summer Slide Posted on June 16, 2015 by Rosetta Stone Enterprise and Education.

8.       The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide” June 26, 2011, by  Larry Ferlazzo.

9.       How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide” May 30, 2012 by Larry Ferlazzo.

10.   FROM SUMMER SLIDE…TO READING PRIDE!  July 31, 2013 Language Lizard by Lizzie Pinard.

11.   Resources to Prevent Summer Slide: Virtual Field Trips, DIY Projects and Summer Reading JUNE 4, 2013, Matt Davis on Edutopia.

12.   Stop the Summer Slide and Brain Drain Florida Education Association. This blog has age appropriate links to sites as well as tips to stop the slide.

13.   Summer Reading Loss by: Maryann Mraz, Timothy V. Rasinski on Reading Rockets.

14.   Ideas for English-Language Learners | Celebrating the End of the School Year By LARRY FERLAZZO and KATHERINE SCHULTEN  MAY 2, 2013 3:07 PM on The Learning Network.

I am also sharing another reading on supporting Syrian refugees that I have discovered.

Syrian Refugee Research 

§  The Educational and Mental Health Needs of Syrian Refugee Children By Selcuk R. Sirin and Lauren Rogers-Sirin Migration Policy Institute. 

Summer safety

We also need to be thinking about summer safety tips for our students. The last few weeks of school can be a good time for teaching about keeping themselves safe over the holiday period. I know in my last school we always taught water safety tips at this time of year as many of them went fishing and swimming but were unaware of the danger that our beaches pose. The following post is American but it will prompt you to think about what should be taught and it is easy to convert to our New Zealand situation.

§  10 Summer Safety Tips for English Learners Posted on 5 June 2015 by Judie Haynes TESOL International Association


1)      Is the summer slump a reality for our students? Does this apply to all our students or are there some groups of students who would benefit from further support e.g. English language learners? What evidence do we have?

2)      If so, what can I put in place to support my students to practice and use English over the Christmas holidays?

3)      How will I communicate with parents/caregivers about this?

4)      Can I build in a way to provide feedback and to monitor what our students do during the holidays?

5)      How will we monitor the effectiveness of the intervention?

6)      For our English language learners what will it be important for them to know to keep them safe during the holiday period? How confident am I that they understand these messages? How can I find this information out/ how can I support them to stay safe?