20. What is the best way to try to communicate directions to a non-English speaking student?

One of the most effective techniques to communicate with non-English speaking students, or with students who may be within the Pre-Production stage of Language Acquisition, is demonstrating for the student what we are trying to communicate while we convey the information orally. For example: If a new student arrives to your class not knowing a word of English, tell him/her what to do, one set of instructions at a time, speaking clearly, slowly and succinctly, WHILE YOU OR ANOTHER STUDENT DEMONSTRATES exactly what to do!!! Tell the student, "Please, sit down here." Demonstrate for the student by sitting in the correct place. Tell the student, "Copy the words on the board." Demonstrate by beginning to write the words on the student’s paper.

Demonstrations are the only way to teach and learn very complex skills and concepts. Surgeons, lawyers, dentists and most other professionals learn to perform the very skilled practices of their professions through demonstrations. We forget many times that, as infants and young children, we only learned through demonstrations that our parents, older siblings, relatives and friends provided for us. In fact, our learning was measured by our proficiency in demonstrating for others what we had learned through demonstrations.

In my opinion, we can only learn to teach and learn the practices we employ in "teaching" through demonstrations. Knowledge, concepts, key ideas are the bases for demonstrations. But if we cannot perceive the key concepts, ideas and knowledge in the demonstrations, we do not understand the concepts or the ideas or the knowledge.

Eventually, you can assign one or several students in your class the task of demonstrating, while orally communicating, all the required directions and tasks needed to function in your classroom. A student could become the "new student" monitor or helper. At all times during teaching and interacting with students, for new students in particular, non-English speaking or English speaking new students to your class, however, be ready to demonstrate!!!!




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.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net