127. How can I assess that a student really does have a language barrier and isn't just using the system?  What do I do with a Hispanic student who refuses to use the help provided because they want an easier grade?  How do I address a male Hispanic student who will speak in his native tongue whenever a female student walks past him in class? I don't know if what he is saying is rude or not but feel that it probably is.

Well, you could make INFORMAL observations of the student's conversations with other English-speaking students. Maybe you could have a debate in your class and place the student in a small group of English-speaking students. Observing how (s)he interacts with others would give you a good idea of the student's English fluency.

You could ask the student to help you in a task -- for example, finding specific reference books in the library. As you direct the task, you can observe the student's level of understanding of English and (h)is/er level of English fluency as (s)he responds to your instructions.

You could provide opportunities for the student to "teach" the class, or "help" English-speakers with an assignment that only (s)he can do. Or you could just have a nice "talk" with the student about a non-threatening topic: Sports, Music, (h)is/er favorite movie, favorite performer, favorite food, etc.

I think ALL students tend to underestimate their capabilities in order to get into "easy" classes. Teachers who know the student from previous courses or grade levels might help you decide (h)is/er level of English fluency.

Above all, keep on raising your level of expectation: Teach lots of vocabulary every day and hold the student responsible the next day for mastery of all the words. So, if (s)he knows little today, tomorrow YOU hold (h)is/er responsible for mastering today's vocabulary.

I have found that Hispanic parents are most cooperative when you call them and, through a translator, if needed, you explain what you are trying to do and why you are trying to provide additional help. I have never had a parent who refuses help.

Could it be that the student/the parents do NOT understand what this help is all about? Could it be the student/the parents may NOT be able to accept the help at the time or on the day that it is provided? Have YOU, the teacher, met with the student/the parents to discuss and inform all parties concerned about the additional help that is available to the student?

You need to have the parents, other teachers, your administrators, etc., discuss the POTENTIAL for success that this student has. How would the additional help be used? Who will be responsible for the help? Ask the student's parents or guardians visit with you. Show the student's work, explain (h)is/er needs, have the parents help you work out a plan. I believe you will see different results.

You may not be aware of a very popular and very interesting cultural behavior prevalent among ALL Hispanic males, a behavior that most Hispanic females just totally ignore. It is called the "piropo." A "piropo" (pronounced /peer--poh/) is an expression of admiration, or just a funny expression, that a male bestows upon a female as they pass each other on the streets of all Hispanic countries. This may sound totally ridiculous to you --and it probably is totally ridiculous behavior-- but Hispanic males say truly nice or funny, or just simple little things to totally unknown females in the streets. As a young lady --and even as a grown-up woman with my husband walking a few steps behind me on a narrow sidewalk in Spain, I would hear young men telling me things that I learned to totally ignore.

Now, in your specific case, I have no idea what the student may be saying. You may wish to talk to the student, tell him that you now know about "piropos," and that you understand that what he may be saying may be quite nice or funny or just silly. You may wish to indicate that "piropos" are not part of your customs, and that you would appreciate his stopping this behavior.

You may even find a book on "piropos." They are quite funny, and you will probably observe them in Hispanic TV programs or in Hispanic films. I believe that if you just ignore this behavior, and explain to everyone that back home where the student comes from all females ignore this behavior, you may be able to extinguish this behavior without other consequences.  But you need to understand that the behavior is quite prevalent among Hispanic males in their respective countries. And it is quite innocent and no one EVER pays any attention to what it is being said.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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