esl question...odd situation

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by veg_guy, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. veg_guy

    veg_guy Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Hi,

    I could use some input regarding a situation I'm dealing with. I'm currently in the Philippines, working at a hospital with low-income kids. English is widely taught in schools in the Philippines but because these kids are lower-income, their educational opportunities are fewer than most kids. And English is their 2nd or perhaps 3rd language.

    In working with a group of kids, ages 9-12, here's what I've noticed:

    1) They can read English at a relatively high level. Fluency is poor but they have good pronunciation skills and strong decoding skills for unfamiliar words. Comprehension appears to be weak. For example, one girl correctly read the word "chin" but when I asked her where her chin was, she had no idea.

    2) Spelling skills are quite strong. Just as an example, one of the 12 year olds correctly spelled the word "orange", not a word that I would consider easy to spell.

    3) If you give them a word from their native language and then ask for the English word, most times they are correct.

    4) Now...here's what I find baffling and why I'm posting....despite being able to read English reasonably well, spell English, and translate words from their native language into English, they seem to have almost no conversational skills in English. Whenever I talk to them in English, they look at me like I'm speaking in Klingon. I assume this is related to the reading comprehension challenges.

    Any thoughts on what might be going on and what I can do to further their conversations skills? Thanks!
     
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  3. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I would have sentences used in conversation written on cards, and pass them out and have everyone share theirs after practicing. Then they can say their sentence to a neighbor. Then have them write down a reply to that sentence. One word answers do not count.

    ex: Do you have my Math book:
    possible reply: No, I do not know where it is.

    I have no idea if this is helpful- hopefully it is.

    Also, have you thought about having them practice more with vocabulary? Here we have word walls with vocabulary that students need to know. I would have pictures with the word in English and their main language (chin would be a good example).
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Try working on their fluency. Since their reading skills are strong, perhaps you can have them "buddy read" and then ask each other questions that can be answered from the text. You might want to start by modeling this as a class activity.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 10, 2008

    By the way, welcome back to A to Z, veg_guy.
     
  6. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I would consider letting them read comic books or graphic novels occasionally because the characters frequently speak back and forth to each other.
     

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