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ELLs “Are Sick of” Writing Their Immigration Story

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 03, 2008 1 min read
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When Maria Estela Brisk, a professor of teacher education at Boston College, observes writing lessons in elementary-school classrooms, it seems to her that children are usually writing personal narratives. She says that, for the sake of English-language learners in those classes (and probably for other students as well, I’m guessing), teachers need to help students experiment with other purposes for writing--and other kinds of texts.

“Children have told their story of immigration. They’re sick of it,” she said during an April 3 session on professional development at the annual conference of TESOL here in New York City, which I’m attending. “They need something else to talk about.”

I smiled at her observation because I, too, have visited an awful lot of classrooms where students were being asking to write personal narratives. And I’ve often seen postings of students’ immigration stories in English-as-a-second-language classes.

I get Ms. Brisk’s point that in education, one can overdo a good thing and wear out its potential as a learning tool. Having students write instructions, provide information through reports, or write persuasively are other options, she suggested.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.