Vania is a student attending Seneca Elementary School, in Ms. Hile’s fourth grade classroom. Vania loves hanging out with her friends, drawing and creating stories. She is extremely talented and is always willing to learn new topics in her class. The only problem Vania faced on a day-to-day basis, before she was exposed to Project Moving Forward, was the fact that she could not speak, read or understand the English language. At first glance Vania appears shy, but once you get to know her she is quite energetic and humorous. The University of California, Riverside tutors, including myself, helped Vania learn English by implementing the RULE of 3. Through this systematic approach for learning vocabulary and language, Vania was able to succeed in her classroom. She was also able to build her confidence, and learn English at a faster rate.
The RULE of 3 or RAP utilizes vocabulary enhancement strategies to improve students’ word knowledge and reading comprehension. The approach has students REHEARSE, ANALYZE and then PRODUCE vocabulary words. For the first or REHEARSE part of the process, the teacher says the vocabulary words aloud and shows visuals for the words’ multiple meanings. Students discuss the meanings of each word. They then “spell and say” the words. The REHEARSE part of the systematic vocabulary building process is significant because it builds background knowledge for each word’s meaning. Students discuss the meanings of words. The next step is ANALYZE. Students analyze the structural components of the words. Finally, students creatively produce the meanings of the words they have learned through their own pictures, definitions or sentences. After implementing all three steps, students know what the words mean. The new vocabulary words are added to their knowledge base.
Vania was hesitant at first to learn by using the RULE of 3. It took some time at first for to get to know each other. Once she realized I was there to help her, she opened up and was ready to learn. Vania is an intrinsic motivational learner because she seeks out knowledge herself. At the start of every lesson she would tell me, “What can I learn today?” Every time I worked with Vania on the Stoplight comprehension passages I followed the RULE of 3 methodology. Since Vania is an English learner I did have to translate from English to Spanish for certain vocabulary words. Whenever she seemed discouraged, I made her stand up and shake it out. In this way, she could relieve some of her stress. I gave Vania constant praise for every single improvement she made. I also gave her little gifts like pencils and stickers.
One time Vania came up with a story for her classroom. Her creative story written in Spanish was about a magical mermaid and her mythical friends. Using the RAP approach and my help with translating, Vania was able to write the story in English and recite it in front of me. The following day she recited the story in front of all her classmates. She was ecstatic and felt confident after that day to continue speaking in English to her peers and her teacher.
Conversations are critical to help English learners understand the language better. New words are confusing for many English learners. Conversations help English learners master the English language. I spoke English the majority of the time with Vania. I only code-switched when she looked confused. I asked her many questions. I wanted to get to know her and her family. In fact, her family, after realizing how well she was learning English, all started to watch videos to learn English too. I found this out by communicating with her and making her feel like she was in a safe environment. I also encouraged Vania to read every single day. I did this because when I was in elementary school I learned English by reading books and watching television. Project Moving Forward would of course have helped me learn English at a faster rate, but luckily for Vania she has tutors who are willing to dedicate hours of their day to help in any way.
Thanks to Project Moving Forward and Dr. Navarrette, students at Seneca Elementary School are succeeding academically and improving not only in their test scores but also in their ability to communicate with others. Our program is building the students’ confidence and it trickles down to other students and family members who learn from them. Vania is now doing wonderfully well in her classroom and talking in English to her teachers and friends. Vania is only one story of the many who have succeeded due to the success of Project Moving Forward. I look forward to changing more lives with this amazing program.