Help for ESL Students

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacher304, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. teacher304

    teacher304 Companion

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    Nov 16, 2014

    I am looking for some advice. In a regents level 9th grade Social Studies class I have four ELL students who are reluctant to speak English. Two students do not speak any English and the other two struggle with writing. All of the students are native Spanish speakers, but I do not speak much Spanish myself. Any advice on how to better help the four ESL students.

    It is a class of 25 students of varying levels (some with IEPs, some gifted and many in the middle). I have two students who are very comfortable speaking both English and Spanish and have paired them up with the ELL students, but it often seems like translating has resulted in the translators falling behind in the lesson. Any ideas and strategies on how to better reach the ELL students would be helpful.
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 17, 2014

    One thing I am doing is giving the students a copy of my notes in Spanish. Via Google translate which is not ideal, but that's all I have. Students are expected to copy notes in English, as much as they can, since their test will be in English.

    A coworker is working herself into the ground translating everything for her ESL students. I will not follow her lead.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    Interesting. ELLs can be more work because of the differentiation, but the bottom line is that instruction should be in English. I would also imagine that they are getting ESL instruction. Many content teachers send work that they would like the ESL teachers to work on with the students. Asking or expecting the more advanced ELLs to translate for the less advanced ELLs is not a good situation. You need to find out what resources can be used with your ELLs, and find out if the ESL teacher will help you differintiate. The two students who don't speak English may have receptive skills, and simply be in the quiet phase. You really need to reach out to the ESL instructor.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    STOP TRANSLATING.

    Seriously.

    The goal is to help these students learn English, and they will never do that if everything is translated for them. Furthermore, their Spanish literacy skills may be lacking, so having access to written Spanish materials might be pointless. Furthermore, online translators are TERRIBLE. I give this example all the time: "I can fly." Online translators often kick back "Yo lata mosca." Yo = I, lata = can, but like a soup can, and mosca = fly, like the buzzing insect. While the individual words might translate, the idea most certainly does not.

    ETA: Offering the opportunity for students to translate for themselves using a Spanish-English dictionary is fine. Translating for them is not fine.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I recommend taking a look at Dave's ESL Cafe (google it). Lots of great resources there.
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Nov 17, 2014

    Is there an esl instructor? I have a student in a similar situation, but have no esl support. He really struggles. I don't translate content, but sometimes I translate assignment directions.
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    If this teacher has four students in her class, I am betting that there is an ESL teacher. If there is not, because of a waiver being obtained, then this teacher will have more work on her hands, but the advice to go to Dave's ESL cafe is excellent. The bottom line is that instruction needs to be in English, and if the student wants to use a Spanish/English dictionary, that is fine. The OP needs to educate himself about the silent period, the delays of writing skills that lag long after the verbal skills emerge, and the tendency for students to acquire BICS, as opposed to CALP. We hear them talking to friends in BICS, but they are no where as fluent with the use of academic language.
     
  9. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2014

    If i do translate I make them look atboth their language and English. I use spanishdict.com
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I give them the dual language dictionary, the correct spelling for the English word, and let them practice looking up the word in the dictionary. What Spanish I could use does nothing for my Korean, Indian, or Russian students, so I make sure I have the dictionaries and teach them how to use them.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 18, 2014

    Unfortunately, it is not an option. I'm already catching flak for saying that I won't create Spanish versions of my quizzes, labs and tests. Since I do not have the time, ability or energy to translate materials myself or get someone to do it for me, I'm stuck with Google translate. My students will have their own English notes (at least they will be told to take them) to compare and can do their own translations if something doesn't make sense.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2014

    Who is telling you that you must create Spanish versions of quizzes, labs, and tests?
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 18, 2014

    The ESL department, which is fully supported by admin. We're told that the accommodations determined by the ESL department are to followed just as with an IEP or 504.

    They haven't said yet that I HAVE to create those, just that they expect me to. It is what others in my department do and the expectation is that I will also. I've been told that they expect me to test only on content, not their ability to speak English, so my content should be accessible in the students' own language. So I must provide instruction to students (not all ESL students, just some) in their native language. I've also been told that the department realizes that the state final exams they'll take in classes will be in English and the kids will fail them, but as long as they pass the ones we write in Spanish, the school will move them to the next level.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2014

    Wow. I guess you've got to do what you've got to do. For the record, I think that their approach is the wrong one. I can't believe that they don't use something like SIOP/HQSI.
     
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2014

    What state are you in? You are describing bilingual education, but you would need a certification for that. If I were you, I would check out the rules and regulations on this situation with your state DOE. They are the final authority on these things. I agree that the test is on content, which means wide latitude on what you can expect and accept as far as fluency and accuracy are concerned. Seriously, you need to check this out with the State DOE for clarification - it sounds very flawed. :dizzy:
     
  16. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Nov 18, 2014

    I agree that google translate can be problematic, but I think notes that are translated accurately could be beneficial for English Language Learners who are literate in their home language. We want ELLs to learn content as well as language. Especially for students who are new to English, if the content is presented in a language that they do not know, then the content is not accessible at all. Notes that are translated will help students access the content, at least at first until they become comfortable with English. Students can rely on their home language, and also draw connections between their home language and English since they have access to English notes as well. Ideally, students will transition to only needing notes in English.

    I have never understood or believed in the idea that students will automatically learn English if they are given no supports and I have never seen this work. Allowing them access to their home language will often help them access the content. I have had students come into my class with very little English and I try to get materials translated as much as possible because I don't see how they can learn without it. Students are also being exposed to English in academic texts and conversations, but they have the support of their home language to access the content.

    It also definitely depends on the student, but I don't think translating for students is always a negative, and I have seen translating help so many students.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2014

    If the ELLs are given the English text, the students should be doing the translating. As pointed out before, you can use a bilingual dictionary, or attempt to use a translation program on the computer. The act of translating for themselves exposes them to English, and lets them get the support they need from the L1. Most content teachers, such as this OP, are not fluent in other languages, so now you are compounding the problem. Differentiate, simplify, support, accept that the writing will be hard to understand, give them the opportunity to use valuable tools, but having someone who is not fluent translating for them makes no sense to me. The ELL can translate for themselves. No one is taking away the support of their L1, but the responsibility to use it to learn the L2 lies with the native speaker. I know that seems harsh, but really, how is getting quirky translation from a teacher who doesn't speak or use the student's L1 better than having the student learn to use references for themselves? Empower the ELLs and make them independent learners. If there is no ESL teacher or instruction in this school, it sounds like they have acquired a waiver based on numbers, and now they are just trying to cover themselves and not get called out for failing to provide necessary services.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 19, 2014

    Any direction on how I'd check this out? I am no where near a bilingual teacher!
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 19, 2014

    In my case, we definitely have an ESL department at school, with at least two certified teachers. Should I instead be giving them a copy of my notes, in English, and say "translate it for the kids yourself or they can do it on their own?"
     
  20. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Nov 19, 2014

    I agreed that google translate is not beneficial but if there is a translation that is accurate, I would use it if my student needed it. I am bilingual, and I know that translating is not as easy as looking up words and writing the meaning down. I am speaking about students who are entering the classroom with little to no English. If students are fluent in conversational English but are struggling with academic English, I would not provide translations but use visuals, discuss reading strategies, etc.

    Again, if a student enters the classroom with little to no English, I provide a translation. There is someone at my school for this.Students who know more English wouldn't be getting a translation.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Nov 19, 2014

    I don't translate for my ESL students (one speaks Arabic, the other speaks Uzbek), but I provide audio for many of my reading passages for those who are stronger with verbal communication. I also make sure our ESL teachers have access to all of the material in the classroom. However, I have found that the Uzbek speaker has not been attending her ESL intervention classes, so there's only so much I can do for her at this point.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 19, 2014

    I don't think anyone here has suggested that these students should receive no supports. Not translating is not the same as not supporting. Translation is not the only support, and in my opinion it is the weakest support. There are so many other excellent and far more beneficial supports than translating.

    Again, when the student translates for him- or herself, that's perfectly fine. But, no, I don't believe that the teacher should be providing translations. There are several reasons for this, namely that many students are not literate in their native language and that many students don't speak the majority native language. How fair is it to your kid who speaks Arikara when you provide every other kid (let's say they're all Spanish-speakers, which is fairly likely in many places) in the class with translated notes? Are you going to provide notes in Arikara? Unless you are a native speaker of Arikara, good luck finding a translator.

    Providing translations to students is not the only way to allow access to their native languages. Not translating is not the same as denying access. Students should always be encouraged to make connections among the content, English, and their native languages. They should not, however, be given translations as a crutch, especially when the goal is sheltered instruction.

    tl;dr I don't think that translation is effective, at least not nearly as effective as many people seem to think that it is. My opinion on this is based on years of experience as a foreign language teacher who is also certified in TESL.
     
  23. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 19, 2014

    :agreed:
     

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