The advice to the teacher with ESL students in the class is to structure lessons so that there is some time when students are working individually or in small groups.
This allows the student to ask questions or for help without being exposed to the attention and possible derision of the full class. It also allows the teacher to approach students suspected of struggling and discreetly offer help. The English Journal The best way that parents can help at home is to discuss with their child, in their own language, the work in progress. Additionally, you could reinforce the constant message we ESL teachers give students and parents about the importance of extensive reading in English - particularly of non-fiction texts.
As Cummins points out:. Towards a Critical Balance , Cummins, J. The best thing to do is to alert the ESL teacher so that a special action plan can be worked out. You may also wish to tell the parents what they can do to help. See my answer to the previous question. Before suggesting private tuition, it is recommended that you contact the ESL teacher. See the newsletter article about private tuition if you want to read the advice we give to ESL parents when they ask if this is necessary for their child.
If a student does poorly in one of your tests, it is helpful to analyse with her the possible reasons. These could be any of the following or a combination of them:.
The other reasons listed above, however, are more to do with language ability, and you may wish to adopt a flexible response in order to help the ESL student show what she has learned and understood. For example, you may wish to prepare an ESL version of the test. Alternatively, you could make sure you are on hand during the test to explain what the questions mean. Or you could allow the student to write part of an answer in her own language and then explain it to you or have it translated after the test.
ESL students usually need more time than their native-speaking peers to complete the test. It takes the pressure off them a little if they know they will have the chance to continue into break or finish off in the ESL lesson. Of course, it is very important that the language of the test questions and tasks is unambiguous, so the student can quickly understand what she has to do. Plagiarism is quite common among ESL students and can have many causes.
At the ESL placement interview the ESL teacher finds out this information and then sends it out to all concerned by e-mail. It is also helpful in class to seat ESL students with native-speakers who are sympathetic and encouraging. On a more general level, it is useful if the culture and history of the student can be incorporated into lessons. The ESL department has a very useful set of materials of the different countries of the world, called Culturegrams.
There is also another set in the school library. Cummins J Negotiating Identities: An excellent way of integrating ESL students into your class is via cooperative activities. Researchers have found that language learning takes place most effectively when learners are engaged in interesting tasks that allow plenty of meaningful interaction with sympathetic native speakers.
However, it is not enough to just put the ESL student with 2 or 3 others and hope for the best. If this happens, there is a danger that the ESL student will take on a peripheral role - or have it forced on her. Therefore, it is most beneficial if the group activity is so structured that the outcome is dependent on the contributions of ALL the group members. As an example, consider the topic of pollution.
First each member of each group chooses or is allocated a sub-topic. Those having the same sub-topic, say river pollution, meet together to discuss and research that sub-topic.
The students then return to their original groups where they report on what they learned in the sub-topic groups. Group members then discuss how to include this information in their final report or presentation. Using this method, the contribution of each group member is critical to the final outcome. To provide extra support to ESL students, you could arrange it so that they are given an easier sub-topic or task, or that the sub-topic group they go to contains a same nationality peer.
In summary, it can be said that pair or group work is important for ESL students because it gives them the chance to express their ideas and opinions or ask questions of the teacher or other group members on a smaller stage than in front of the whole class. It also gives the teacher a much better chance to offer individual and unobtrusive help. There is a more extensive discussion in the following article, which also contains a wealth of other useful information: I have a copy of this book in my room if you would like to borrow it.
In my room I have a comprehensive set of materials called Culturegrams. These contain information about every country in the world on topics such as: There is a further set of these materials in the library. Else Hamayan has devised an interesting graphic that makes it clear there is more to culture difference than the obvious elements of music, food and dress. It is rarely productive to try and cajole a reluctant beginner into answering questions in class.
There is a well-attested silent period that some ESL students go through in which they are not prepared to volunteer any spoken information. In most cases however these students are learning and will emerge from their silent cocoon some time later with a surprising ability to express themselves orally.
The issue is more complicated for silent students who are in their second or subsequent years at the school. They may in fact desire the opportunity to participate orally, but do not yet have the language processing skills to quickly understand the question and formulate their answer in English. They are disadvantaged therefore in classes with rapid teacher-student interchanges, particularly where the students are not called on but allowed to respond at will.
If teachers allow sufficient processing time, then ESL students may feel comfortable in raising their hand to answer. But in general this should be done only if it is believed that the student will have a correct answer, and not if he or she is generally shy or lacking in confidence. So, there is not one rule that fits all students.
Shy students will feel very stressed in class if they believe that the teacher may call on them at any time. Conversely, some students may feel the teacher has no confidence in them if they are never called on. There is a detailed answer to this question elsewhere on this site. In short, assessments, both formative and summative, will often need modifying in order to make them fair and reliable ways for ESL students to demonstrate knowledge and skills in your subject.
Other accommodations, such as allowing extra time to complete the assessment, may be necessary. Students whose English proficiency is as yet limited may need different assessments altogether than the rest of the class. ESL teachers can advise on the language demands of a given task, and suggest modifications and accommodations to make it a fairer and more accessible way for ESL students to demonstrate content knowledge and skills.
This is a complex issue, and closely related to the previous question: How should I assess my ESL students? In general, students who have reached a certain level of English proficiency at FIS this means students in ESL2, Advanced or Transitional classes should be assessed and graded according to the same criteria as the other students in the class.
This may mean that for some students their grades are low at first, but nevertheless it is important that ESL students, together with their parents and their ESL teacher get accurate feedback on the standards they are reaching in their mainstream classes. Such a grading policy also helps the ESL teacher to determine at the end of the year if the student is in need of further support in the following year.
It can be difficult to recommend that a child continues in ESL if his grades in the other subjects have been artificially inflated. Within the above guidelines, however, it is still possible to treat ESL students in a way that is appropriate to their particular status and needs.
Sympathetic is a useful term to describe this special treatment of ESL students in terms of grading and assessment. It means for example that students are given credit for demonstrating understanding even if their ability to express their understanding in clear and accurate English is limited.
It means that they are not graded down for grammar and spelling mistakes unless these are an integral and clearly stated part of the assignment. It means further that students have the chance to give an oral explanation of answers that they were not able to write down very clearly. It also means that they may be allowed the chance to redo homework or retake tests. It need not, since many of the strategies which are good for ESL students are good for the others, too.
This is a situation where the internal grouping of students takes on greater importance. It is generally helpful if ESL students can be paired or grouped with others from a different language background, although it can be useful if beginners can also have the chance to be helped in their own language.
In general, the advice is to teach to the native speakers in the class so that the cognitive demand on students is not compromised. There is an interesting discussion of the dangers of reducing the cognitive level in the classroom in Vol. Embarrassment and hygiene in the classroom Mackay, R. The ESL department holds a copy of this article if you wish to read it.
You may also wish to read my answer to parents who ask a similar question. Much of the work that is set in the mainstream whether to do in class or at home takes the ESL students much longer to accomplish than the native-English speakers. Of course, mainstream teachers are aware of this and may attempt to adapt the tasks that the ESL students have to do. This concern for ESL students is admirable, but it carries with it two dangers.
The first danger is that the cognitive demands of the task may be reduced, or that the task may be replaced by different, simpler task. ESL students can certainly be helped by making the language of tasks easier to understand, but they have the same cognitive abilities as the other students and should be required to use them in the completion of the same assignments.
The second danger is that the teacher ends up spending so long on regular adaptation of materials for ESL students that he or she does not have the time or energy to devote to preparing engaging and instructive lessons for the class as a whole. A solution to the dilemma of ensuring that ESL students are cognitively challenged but do not end up working twice or three times as long on an assignment as a native-speaker is to reduce the amount of work they have to do.
For example, instead of requiring them to do 20 word problems in mathematics unit, permit them to do Consider a mainstream English assignment as a further example - book review. Instead of requiring a word report, allow the less proficient ESL students to write words. Do not, on the other hand, permit them to write only about plot and not about theme or mood, since this reduces the cognitive challenge of the task. The ESL department is very happy to advise on the modification of materials to make them linguistically more accessible to ESL students.
How the liaison takes place is a matter for each subject teacher to determine in consultation with the ESL teacher. Some prefer to have a brief regular meeting to discuss work in progress and students of concern; while other find it easier to keep in contact by e-mail.
See the sheet of general information about how ESL teachers can help , containing a list of times that they are free to discuss with you or visit one of your classes. The decision about the initial placement of a student is made after the student has been interviewed by an ESL teacher who assesses the linguistic competence of the student in the major language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The reading test generally consists of a short story taken from the appropriate grade level literature anthology.
Placement changes can take place at any time, although they are generally not considered desirable in the last two months of the school year.
A majority of changes take place between one school year and the next. Some of the indicators of a learning disability that are exhibited by an English native speaker are also shown by ESL students in the first stage of their English language development. These indicators include difficulty in following oral instructions, poor eye tracking when reading, inconsistent spelling, limited attention span, avoidance of eye contact, etc. The crucial difference is that the problems experienced by the learning-disabled native speaker are for the most part permanent, whereas ESL students display such behaviours for a temporary period only.
There are significant variations in the duration of this temporary period for ESL students. It is important, therefore, that mainstream teachers are aware that a normal i. Such students should not be prematurely labelled as having a learning problem when in fact they simply have a temporary language or acculturation problem. If the child does indeed turn out to have learning problems, then some kind of additional support is offered. It is helpful for the ESL teacher to know, specifically, the types of task that cause the student problems and the kinds of atypical behaviour that the student exhibits.
For a further detailed discussion of the issue, refer to the following article, a copy of which is available in room The topic is given comprehensive coverage in this more recent work by Hamayan: Delivering a Continuum of Services. In all of the dealings with parents, it is important to modulate your language in such a way that it can be more easily understood. Of course this does mean not patronising them by speaking more loudly or excessively slowly, or using "baby language".
What it does mean is that you may have to repeat or rephrase the important parts of your message. You should also try to avoid most of the idioms and colloquialisms that are typical of natural everyday language between native speakers. Telling a parent that her daughter takes a long time to cotton on and that she needs to pull her socks up is likely to be met by a confused stare!
You should be aware too that much of the school jargon that we use without thinking about it will be inaccessible to ESL parents. For example, it is unrealistic to expect them to know what you mean when you talk about authentic assessment or Learning Center. More on school jargon. You also need to be careful with euphemisms.
While they may be appropriate and expected by native-English speaking parents, your message may not be understood by ESL parents.
To tell a Korean mother that her son does not take full advantage of the learning opportunities offered to him will probably not communicate effectively what you are trying to telling her. It is often better to say gently something like: Your son is a little bit lazy in lessons , and then give specific examples of how he could participate more. More on euphemisms You need be a little careful, however, since some parents may regard the difficulties their child is having as reflecting poorly on themselves and their family as a whole.
You should also know that many ESL parents will feel very uncomfortable if they think that other parents or students can hear what you are saying about their child. For this reason, you are strongly recommended to close the door of the room in which you are having the meeting or conference with the parents.
In general it is important that parents are not left feeling frustrated, confused or embarrassed after meeting with you. Making ESL parents feel valued and welcomed in our school and involving them in the education of their child is an essential aspect of helping the child to fulfil his or her potential. More on making language comprehensible: The shock can be caused by difficulties in adjusting to Germany and German culture.
It is more likely however to be the result of trying to cope with the demands of a very different school system from the one they have left behind. The effects of culture shock - or to be more precise, school shock - are described in some detail in my article to parents elsewhere on this site.
My intention here is to make mainstream teachers aware of some of the teaching practices at FIS that may be unfamiliar and stressful to ESL students. Of course it is not suggested that colleagues change their teaching methodologies to avoid all possibility of discomfiting ESL students. But an awareness of the points below will often be sufficient to prevent teachers drawing the wrong conclusions about the behaviour and attitude of the ESL students in their classes.
It can help to alleviate stress if ESL students feel that the teacher is knowledgeable about and sympathetic to their difficulties. Possible sources of school shock Students may be used to acquiring a large number of facts by rote; and unused to discovery learning, analysis or critical thinking as practised at FIS.
They may also perceive a wrong answer as causing the teacher to lose face and, for the same reason, feel uncomfortable with the idea of asking questions or for help. Students may not wish to share opinions or beliefs, regarding them as private. Students may be severely embarrassed if reprimanded or excessively praised in front of others. Students may be unused to mixed classes or being taught by teachers of the opposite sex. Students may find it difficult to come to terms with the open and friendly relations between teachers and students.
They may be uncomfortable with the amount of noise in the classroom. Students may be uncomfortable with some expectations regarding teacher-student behaviour e. Students may be from a very competitive school system and unused to working co-operatively with other students. Conversely, they may come from an educational background in which grades do not have the importance to students, parents and teachers that they do at our school. Students may believe that having fun in the classroom is incompatible with learning.
Of course not all ESL students come from countries whose educational culture is different in the ways listed above. And most of those who do will not experience more than a temporary discomfort on joining our school. What is common to all ESL students, however, and probably the main cause of school shock, is the huge mental effort required to work for more than 8 hours a day learning new content in a foreign language.
For this reason it is clear that students will benefit directly from any efforts by teachers to make the classroom language and homework tasks as comprehensible as possible. Ways to do this are described in the following articles:. Many ESL students are very motivated to learn English as quickly as possible.
They spend a lot of extra time at home doing language work of one type or another, and often their parents pay for private tuition. Unfortunately, in more than a few cases, this time and money could be better spent.
The single best thing that students can do at home to improve their English is to read extensively in the language. It is the best thing because it allows students to engage in an activity that most enjoy - particularly if they are able to choose their own reading material. There is also plenty of research evidence to show that learners of English who simultaneously maintain and develop their proficiency in the mother tongue do better in school.
For this reason parents can be advised on the benefits of their child reading good literature or non-fiction in their native language too. So if you are asked the question above, please advise students and parents on the considerable benefits of reading in both languages.
At the same time, however, it would be good to suggest that they contact the ESL teacher for more specific advice on the kinds and levels of reading in English that the child should be doing, because this will play a significant part in the success of any such program. Extensive reading and the development of language skills , Hafiz, F. The immediate concern is to help students do assignments that will satisfy them and their subject teachers. The long-term concern is to help the students learn enough English that they can function successfully in the mainstream without ESL support.
The amount of time that is devoted to each of these concerns depends on the particular group of students and the time of year.
So, for example, more time is spent on other subject work with beginning students than with more advanced students. Students generally become more independent as the year progresses, so more time is devoted to general language and skills development towards the end of the year than at the beginning. Beginning ESL students tend to lose their voice and their personality when they enter the mainstream classroom in the first few months at FIS.
They may believe themselves to be or even be made to feel stupid. For this reason we incorporate into our teaching activities that allow students to demonstrate their intelligence, their imagination and creativity, their linguistic knowledge of their own language and their personality.
Cummins ECIS-ESL Rome conference presentation has spoken convincingly of how the above can be done via cooperative work on what he calls identity texts. There are examples of identity texts in the Dual Language Showcase. Math is a subject, which is extremely useful and interesting, to some extent, as it teaches us to count quickly, develops our logic and analytical abilities. However, this school subject is an Achilles heel of many students, no matter where they study.
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