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Open Educational Resources for Bilingual Learners

Open educational resources or OERs are essential components of any bilingual teaching toolkit. Armed with resources in learning materials, professional development, and workshops, you can plan your course of instruction.

In a few steps, OERs help you seek relevant and trustworthy materials for your class. Since OERs are such a valuable tool for teachers, how do you find platforms that will serve your students and save you time?

Benefits of Open Educational Resources

First of all, open educational resources are free sites or databases. Although these resources are free, educators still need to consider copyright and license policies.

While these resources are for educational purposes, you still need to be aware of how the author wants you to apply them in the classroom. Of course, you do have some flexibility to incorporate OERs into lessons and curriculum.

However, read the author or creator policies before posting them onto a classroom website, online presentation, or video. There are benefits to using OERs.

For instance, teachers within your grade level add lessons or materials that have success in their classroom. One of the main advantages of OERs is that you might have many sources from different teachers about the same subject.

Which one works for you depends on what level of learning you want to bring into the classroom or at home? Could you need to differentiate instruction or provide different projects to accommodate special-need students?

Perhaps, that’s one part of OER that would not help in this case. Not every student will learn at the same pace. So, consider which types of OER you need to help your students reach their maximum potential. 

OER for Bilingual Teaching

As fundamental as reading itself, you and your students need a bilingual dictionary.

While there are many sources online, choose dictionaries that have multiple language variations. For instance, the Translate-Examples site has a well-organized database.

You can translate between languages in Russian, Czech, Norwegian, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Swedish, Croatian, Finnish, and Danish. Also, use common phrases in the search tool to avoid typing the entire sentence or phrase.

Expand your professional development with Spanish or bilingual literature.

  • The Español Abierto organization from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, consists of plenty of Spanish resources.
  • Get lost in a numerous catalog of Spanish literature for students for grades 6-12.
  • They have a vast amount of teaching materials, grammar, and cultural sources.
  • Worthwhile sections to check are the Spanish in Texas if you teach Texas history or literature as well as the Spanish cultural section.
  • Another website from the University of Austin is the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning.
  • The COERLL is an OER platform with licenses for world language teachers in K-12 and higher education.
  • You can find materials from elementary to college.
  • You might find it useful to do a tutorial on how to find sources there in the Intro to OER at the site.

Expand Online Professional Development

Other areas to explore are the Language Learning Materials, Language Tools, Teaching Methods, and the Open Education sections. While looking for materials for your students is essential, many OER platforms also have professional development courses.

If you need to refresh instructional skills or learn new ones, the Humboldt State University Library has a wide variety of tools.

Explore the extensive collection of textbooks, teacher classes for professional development, edX, Future Learn, OpenLearn, and Coursera classes. They also have a special education section.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more accredited choices, take a look at the Accredited Schools Online (ASO) options. Again, make sure to look for your specific teaching needs.

The ASO has a variety of ESL/ELL resources for parents, students, and teachers. There’s an excellent collection of writing and speaking tips for students as well as support information for parents.

In addition to categorizing materials for teachers, many OERs also have reading sources for students.

open educational resources

Bilingual Children Reading Resources

Within many open educational resources, children’s literature is often the highlight in these platforms. You can find grade level or Lexile level books in English at just about any platform.

However, there aren’t too many bilingual English and Spanish books. So, with a few fortunate websites, you can still encourage children to read in dual languages.

  • For instance, the LibriVox is a free public domain audiobook catalog website.
  • Powered by volunteers to read aloud books, the catalog has books in more than 40 languages.
  • You can search for children’s fiction, nonfiction, and other genres.
  • If you need additional options for older students, the Project Gutenberg has an extensive selection.
  • You might get lost in the wide variety of Spanish literature of famous authors and poets.
  • Another database for audiobooks is Starfall.
  • This simple website offers a range of grade-level books that students can read from any computer screen.
  • However, books are only available in English.  

Bilingual Preschool Open Educational Resources

For preschool students, the Open Educational Resources Commons is an ideal site to begin. This database of information has a collection of grade-level materials from books to articles.

For example, use the search bar tool to look for preschool literacy. You’ll find sources by educational standards, subject area, education level, material type, conditions to use (copyright agreements), and content source.

  • Other keyword searches to try are ESL, early childhood education, Spanish, and ELL.
  • Also, the Common Sense Media platform has plenty of resources.
  • Once you narrow your search for preschoolers, select items vital for your needs.
  • Avoid distractions while searching on this site by using the search tool for articles, videos, and helpful tips to send materials to parents.
  • However, you must be a registered user to access the content.

This platform has also developed a specific site for parents and teachers to plan a daily routine of remote teaching.

The Wide Open School offers content at all grade levels. Select the Elementary section, and you’ll see materials for daily schedule, ELL support, reading/writing, math, exercise, arts/music, social studies, science, and field trips.

Online Textbooks and Integrations

While these platforms have useful sources, you might need textbooks or more comprehensive content.

  • For instance, the New America Making Connections PreK-12 OER in Practice has a full collection of resources in K-12 grades in all subject areas.
  • However, you need to look carefully for resource type by supplemental or comprehensive as well as license information.
  • When you need digital formats of textbooks, the Ck-12 foundation has plenty of choices.
  • Most of the FlexBooks are available in most subject areas.
  • Also, many of the material integrates well with Google Classroom.
  • So, if you’re using a virtual classroom, you might find it helpful to incorporate videos, simulations, and lessons from Ck-12.
  • The platform also offers a measurement evaluation tool called Braingenie.
  • This assessment tool can help you monitor the progress of students in specific areas.

Another useful Google Classroom integration and OER tool for bilingual teachers is PBS Learning Media. Depending on your local area, PBS or public broadcasting service may be available in different formats.

That is, your local PBS television broadcast ties in with PBS Learning Media. So, some PBS Kids shows may not appear on your channel or website.

However, you can efficiently use this platform for Spanish learning materials like videos, interactive games, and kids’ shows. 

Open educational resources are a magnificent collaboration between teachers of all grade levels. However, you might need to take time to evaluate your choices and license information to stay in compliance.

Select trustworthy sites and platforms that will enrich the learning in the classroom and at home. 

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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