Dialog's Afterschool and Weekend Programs can complement the language instruction provided to students during the regular school day by offering extra time for both direct language instruction and practicing oral language skills. Dialog's Programs outside of the school day are also less restricted by curriculum and testing requirements than school-day classes, which means they have more flexibility to tailor programs to the language and learning needs of individual students. Dialog Afterschool and Weekend programs can offer ELL students:
- A low-pressure environment to practice communicating in English while playing games or engaging in hands-on activities without the worry of being graded;
- Lower student-to-teacher ratio;
- More parent and community involvement and engagement as parents are less intimidated by the informal structure of afterschool and instructors can act as brokers between families and school teachers;
- A chance to build confidence in a stress-free environment with students in similar circumstances;
- Homework help to support academic achievement;
- Additional time for learner-centered direct language instruction;
- A chance to learn more about American culture and share students' backgrounds by participating in cultural events (music, theater, holiday celebrations); and
- Direct language instruction that does not require students to be pulled out of academic content lessons.
While English language students often do not get much opportunity to practice using oral language during the school day, Dialog's Afterschool and Weekend Programs offer varied opportunities for children to talk with peers and adults, one-on-one and in groups, while engaging in a variety of low-pressure activities. As students develop relationships within the afterschool community, they are able to feel more comfortable trying out new language skills without fear of judgment. These oral language skills lay a foundation for literacy development and help support academic achievement. Opportunities to practice English language skills are particularly valuable to students who speak Russian exclusively at home.
Dialog events help our students to connect with school and learning in a way that they may not normally if only presented with academics in a structured and pressured environment. For example, musical and dramatic performances give children a chance to showcase their developing talents in a supportive, family-friendly community environment.