Mr. Tanaka works to empower his students while appreciating the experiences that may affect them socially, emotionally and academically. He reinforces to his ELLs students that they are not "English deficit", but are becoming bilingual, and will be twice as valuable in college and job markets once they master English.
One way he creates these student bonds is by learning about their native cultures and languages. Mr. Tanaka spent the past three summers as a Fulbright scholar traveling to Punjab, Bangladesh, Calcutta, and Costa Rica to take language classes in Punjabi, Bengali, and Spanish. His students' faces light up when he speaks their native tongues. His ability to speak conversational Spanish has enabled him to develop stronger relationships with parents, and lower the anxiety of newcomers. “When students feel that their teacher cares about their culture and language, then a trusting relationship can be built with them,” Mr. Tanaka explains. This bond is the foundation of my students' ability to become active learners who are responsible for their academic success.”
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