Series: First Five Early Childhood Education

Building Language Through Thematic Learning
Lesson Objective: Learn about community workers in a dual language program
Pre-K / ELA / ELL

Thought starters

  1. What is a teacher-based dual language model How does each center help students develop understanding of both content and language?
  2. What are the benefits of learning similar content in two languages?
In addition I want to say, that thematic learning approach is very helpful for young students. It can improve their critical thinking and widen their outlook. Because they learn in such kind of lesson all what surround them and real life eaxamples. In such lessons children are not feeling to be bored, on the contrary they are interested and active.
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I really enjoyed watchnig this video. The method teacher uses is very helpful as well as effective. In this lesson children learn many kind of professions and say who they want to be in the future. The teacher not only say about some kind of profession, she also shows children how the people of these professions are looked showing them cards and posters. In my opinion it is very efficient way in teaching vocabulary as well as speaking. Most children are visual learners, so, they can easily full their vocabulary stock using such kind of cards and pictures.
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I like the way the education coordinator exlanin the imortance of keepiing the home language . Being a person who spoke English all my life this really was something I had to work to rap my head around.
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Thematic learning helps children learn several concepts. The themes help the children learn vocabulary. Thematic learning is done in two languages, the home language of the students and then in English. Teaching the children in their home language helps them to hold onto it and the English sessions are meant to help them learn and effectively communicate in English. The teacher creates rapport with the students by using an interactive session in which the different disciplines that the children learn are focused towards one definite concept. The children are able to identify what they want to become in future and the teacher uses appropriate props to facilitate their knowledge and vocabulary about this. The teacher shows respect to the students by allowing each child participate in the active class, and she uses the children’s native language in the afternoon sessions to teach. This makes the children learn the value of their native languages and learn to hold unto them. Thematic learning in this class is therefore not only used to improve the children’s vocabulary and thinking, but also in improving their native languages.
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Thematic learning helps children learn many concepts. Thematic learning- takes place when different disciplines are all centered- towards one definite concept. I enjoyed this video, and will use this site for more of my educational resources!
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  • Building Language Through Thematic Learning
    Program Transcript

    Catalan (Interview): My name is Eloisa Catalan. I teach preschool, three to five years

    Building Language Through Thematic Learning
    Program Transcript

    Catalan (Interview): My name is Eloisa Catalan. I teach preschool, three to five years old, and we're here at Mission Neighborhood Center in San Francisco.

    Hawley (Interview): I'm Rebecca Hawley. I'm the developmental early childhood education coach, and a lot of my time is spent with the teachers, coaching them, mentoring them and helping them in their own professional development. In the Mission Center, we work with a very specific dual language learning model, so the one we developed was called the teacher-based model, so we're very intentional about how we place teachers based on their language.

    Catalan: So when you grow up Dominic, what do you want to be?

    Hawley (Interview): We'll have one very strong english model.

    Catalan: He said, I want to be a doctor. Why do you want to be a doctor? Because I want to help people who are sick.

    Cuellar: [Spanish]

    Hawley (Interview): And one teacher who's very competent, where their primary language is Spanish.

    Catalan: What do you want to be when you grow up?

    Catalan (Interview): Our lesson plan for this week is all about community helpers. We have themes each week so that they will learn vocabulary.

    Catalan: Why do you want to be a teacher?

    Student: Because I want to show them how to draw, a cat.

    Catalan (Interview): The more we expose the vocabulary, the more they get used to it.

    Student: I want to be a mermaid.

    Catalan: You want to be a mermaid? Let me see if I have a mermaid right here. Hmmm…

    Catalan (Interview): So children participate in two languages. In the morning, English. And in the afternoon, we use Spanish.

    Cuellar: What do you want to be when you grow up?

    Student: A a baker

    Cuellar: What a baker?

    Student: Because I like cookies.

    Cuellar: Oh, …

    Hawley (Interview): It's important for children to hold onto their home language, and build on that as they're incorporating another one.

    Cuellar: DeMarco, what do you want to be when you grow up?

    Student: Policia!

    Hawley: Research shows that if they're very strong in their home language, that acts as a catalyst for learning a second language…Thematic learning is really a way that children can get the experience of a concept woven throughout the day in different areas or what we call different learning centers.

    Teacher: What are those? Are those police cars or fire trucks?

    Student: Fire trucks.

    Catalan (Interview): One of the setups that we use is the collage. By bringing collage in activities, we have different pictures of the community helpers.

    Teacher: You can choose any job. What do you want to be when you grow up? You can choose a doctor, a police man. A nurse, scientist. You choose.

    Catalan (Interview): And for our dramatic play, we have different kinds of costumes.

    Catalan: There you go. Now go! Fire away! Woo woo!

    Hawley (Interview): Pretty much in every area of the classroom, there was a theme that was connected to community helpers. It went many different directions depending on the child. It may just be through language development during dramatic play or an arts project, but we incorporate early literacy literally into everything that we do throughout the day.

    Teacher: DeMarco, see if you can write your name. Over here, over here, or anywhere that you want to.

    DeMarco: D…

    Teacher: D…

    Hawley (Interview): Our goals for early literacy is not that kids are going to go to kindergarten and reading and that's our expectation. Really, our goals for early literacy is children have a love for book exploration and have the beginnings of the foundations for reading. Children learn in a variety of ways and we consistently want to leave the door open and go with the child's lead. Even if it's something completely different from what we think. You never know. We may learn something from that. They may be right. We could be wrong.


Eloisa Catalan
Rebecca Hawley


TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration




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