165. I am currently enrolled in the Alternative Licensing Dept. in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am so sorry I missed your presentation on March 2nd. I teach 11th grade English. I have three questions for you concerning a student in my classroom. She is from China and speaks very little English and uses a translator constantly. Her written English skills are also very limited. I have started to used modified tests for her, treating her as if she had some sort of disability. I did attempt to explain what I was doing so she would not feel stigmatized, and she seemed grateful for the assistance. However, she still has difficulty in understanding me.
Question 1. Can I do anything else to support her in standard tests?
In many ways you are right in thinking that not knowing English may be similar to a
disability. I often say that a child who
cannot understand the teacher,
cannot understand instruction or
cannot understand what is going on in the classroom
because the language of instruction and the teacher's language are different from the native or primary language that the child speaks and understands to perfection, that child is, for all practical purposes blind, mute, and deaf. Blind because (s)he cannot know where to look or what to observe to understand the teacher's language of instruction, mute because (s)he cannot respond to what the teacher is saying or asking, and deaf because whatever language (s)he hears is just like noise to (h)is/er ears. Thus, in testing such a child, you must provide for (h)is/er blindness, deafness and lack of language to respond. I would ask "Why test such a child?" And if you MUST test, "Why not test through the languge that enables the child to SEE, HEAR and RESPOND orally or through (h)is/er writing system? Usually, standardized tests provide some guidelines or suggestions as to what to modify in the testing situation: They may recommend to extend the testing time, provide dictionaries, provide the test instructions orally instead of through print only, and provide a translator so that all tests questions AND the student's reponses can be given and can be heard in the language the student understands and speaks best. You may even provide practice for the type of questions asked, and responses required in the test. Consult your test booklet for specific suggested modifications. And consult Dr. Andre L. Guerrero for specific state guidelines concerning length of stay in the USA BEFORE state mandated testing can begin.
Question 2. I have given her a copy of a textbook I used to use in teaching remedial students in college. I asked her to work through the book and bring me some of the work and I could give her credit for doing the work. She has not done this but I think she's using the book as her written skills have improved a little. Should I continue to ask her to bring the work to me? She is passing the class with a C at the moment.
Well, I can observe two important details from your description: (1) This young Chinese lady is willing to persist and try very hard. And (2) This young student is very eager to learn English. I can also observe your wonderful sense of responsibility for this young person's learning. You also keep trying to help her. I am going to assume, as it has been the case on may previous occasions, that this 11th grader from China brings with her a vast amount of content area and general knowledge in Chinese. All this knowledge helps her immensely in learning English. Positive "transfer of learning" from Chinese into English helps her understand more than she can possibly demonstrate through active production of speech or writing in English. Because English and Chinese use such different writing systems --and have such different grammatical systems and sound systems-- this young student needs some time just to learn to print English symbols --the Roman alphabet we use to write English. You may wish to let her use a computer to write, rather than writing by hand. It may be easier to type than to write. Her extremely high motivation seems to be sufficient to teach herself using the book you have given her. You may wish to devote some time every class to work one-on-one with her, or you may need to request a "live" translator (I am assuming that the "translator" you mention in your introductory statement is an electronic translator). The reason I say a "live" translator is that in a dictionary or an electronic translator you cannot determine which one of the many meanings words have the teacher is implying in (h)is/er message. A "real live" translator could help. However, the best help should be provided by an English-As-A-Second language TEACHER who can provide language acquisition and development lessons BEFORE the student attends your class. The ESL teacher and YOU need to develop coordinated lessons so that the student "Previews" the language of YOUR lesson in the ESL class BEFORE the student attends your class.
Question 3. How much should I call on this student to answer questions when I'm not sure she is understanding what is going on in the classroom, especially when we are going over work and I'm firing off questions to the students? Should I leave her out of this or attempt to ask her an easy question?
You should get the ESL teacher to prepare this students for YOUR class. The ESL teacher and you need to work together. Remember: NO student should be in a class where the student cannot understand the language of instruction, cannot understand what the teacher is saying. This does NOT mean that the student should not take content area courses until the student masters English. What it means is that ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE classes MUST be provided BEFORE the student attends YOUR class so that (s)he can master the language of the lesson BEFORE listening to you teach the lesson and BEFORE being required to actively participate in the class. Thus, YOU must bring this need to the attention of your administrators. There MUST be an English-As-A-Second Language teacher that helps this Chinese student along with YOU. AND you must contact Dr. Andre L. Guerrero who may be of GREAT HELP to you and your district in meeting the needs of this Chinese and ALL OTHER non- or limited-English-Proficient students.
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)
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