Help! Student speaks NO English (Arabic)

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by hipteachergirl, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. hipteachergirl

    hipteachergirl Companion

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Hi ladies! I haven't posted on here in forever. My first year didn't leave me much time. I'm at a new school, in a new grade, and was only hired 2 weeks ago. Needless to say, it didn't leave much time for planning. :)

    I have a student in my class who speaks Arabic and NO English. Her family seemed to speak English fairly well, but I am under the impression that she is possibly a niece or something (not a daughter). She recently came here from Iraq. My school has a very large population of ELL students. Last year, we had 27 languages spoken.

    I have NO idea what to do with the little girl. The ELL teacher is shared between 2 schools, so she isn't there often. She gave me an English/Arabic dictionary and a picture dictionary for the girl. The ELL teacher said she would be in to meet with me sometime later this week. So what do I do in the mean time? As far as I can tell, she doesn't know our alphabet at all. Obviously, I speak no Arabic. Luck has it, there are no students in my class who do either. I would love to spend a ton of time working with her, but I also have the rest of the class.

    I am really at a loss. I bought a set of ABC flashcards that she and I can begin working on while the rest of the kiddos are doing silent reading. Does anyone have any websites or anything that could help? I'm just a little overwhelmed here!
     
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  3. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Don't do what a teacher did when I had observations. She just sat the kid in the corner and said there was nothing she could do! I couldn't even make that story up if I tried.

    I would give her some things to do to make her feel welcome. This website:
    http://en.childrenslibrary.org/
    They have books online in Arabic that she can read (hopefully she can read in Arabic!).

    I also Googled "Arabic and Lesson", and came up with a lot of lessons. "Arabic and Worksheet" also provided a TON of hits. This site proved to be very promising:
    http://www.happychild.org.uk/freeway/arabic/indexoverview.htm

    If you had 27 languages at your school, I'm willing to bet that your community is diverse. Check out the public library to see if they have books in Arabic. The library in my area that has a large Middle Eastern population has a HUGE section of books in Arabic.

    Yes, she needs to learn English. But this is the first week of school, and she will be overwhelmed as it is. Providing her some comfort in Arabic will certainly help her adjust.
     
  4. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Sorry when I sound naive, but your district should be providing you with a lot of resources. There are a lot of good ESL sites out their with basic worksheets which may help.

    Good luck! Our county is in the middle of getting 30,000 people from the middle east in 2 years. The first wave bought large houses and whole apartment complexes in preparation for this influx.

    Do you have a reading teacher who could help as well?
     
  5. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2009

    I have a really large amount of ELL students every year. I'd suggest getting some K or 1st grade reading materials and starting her on that. Do you have a listening center? She could start with really easy books and you could pair her up with different responsible students to point to the words as the story is read.
    In my experience, you have to keep the student busy. They're not stupid and probably know a lot about many of the subjects, just can't communicate their knowledge. Make sure she has something to do at all times, because if not she will start to get frustrated. Then she may start causing problems. Many ELL students will excel in math because lots of other countries have harder math programs than we do here. If you notice this, then make sure to call on her to do examples on the board, etc. because then the other kids will also understand how smart she is.
    It would also help if you labeled the room with picture/word cards.
     
  6. SportsFanTr

    SportsFanTr Companion

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    Aug 24, 2009

    Sounds like you are doing the right things so far hipteacher. I actually work at a Muslim private school where most of the kids speak Arabic, English, and/or Ordu. You can PM me if you want and I will do what I can to help, also could get you in touch with one of our Arabic teachers. One key word for you: hamam = bathroom (that was the first word I learned at this school) =D

    As everyone else said, just be real patient with her, work on the alphabet. I recommend getting her on www.starfall.com if possible - its a bit young, but not too much so for a 4th grade girl. Also enchantedlearning has some vocabulary sheets in Arabic/English you may be able to use.
     
  7. SportsFanTr

    SportsFanTr Companion

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    Aug 24, 2009

    Just thought of something else, Ramadan started Saturday and most kids around 4th grade start trying to fast (at least at my school anyways). Try to be considerate of this that she may be fasting and if so can't drink water or eat anything, this can make the day really long for the kids - especailly at a public school where everyone else is eating. You may want to build in some lessons on Ramadan/Muslim culture if possible and this would be the perfect month to do so and make her feel involved.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 24, 2009

    The children's publisher Usborne might have a helpful picture dictionary.
     
  9. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2009

    Just a thought...do you have a local community college, jr. college, or university? Could you call the arabic language department and ask if any students would like to put in some volunteer hours?
     
  10. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    It sounds like you just need to keep being patient! I read somewhere (I think on this website) that when children don't know the language, they take a year just to listen and process- not speaking- and then may begin to start speaking after the year.
    However, I really like dr. gator's idea! Someone in the community might be able to do it also....
     
  11. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2009

    I'm sort of in the same boat. I have a Turkish girl in my math and homeroom classes who doesn't speak English. Luckily, we have a lot of Turkish teachers and her mom is also a teacher in our school, so she's not without a translator if she really needs one. I'm just not sure how to make sure she's understanding our math lessons. I wish she spoke Spanish because I took 5 years of Spanish in high school and college, but I don't know a single word in Turkish!
     
  12. 4inteacher

    4inteacher Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2009

    It's possible that even though she is in the 4th grade that reading in Arabic may be quite difficult for her. All written Arabic is the same (not in dialects), therefore reading and writing in Arabic-speaking countries is quite lower than what we're used to in Western countries. The typical Middle Eastern Arabic-speaking schools are based on memorization. (I've lived in two Middle Eastern countries and found this to be the norm.) The teacher speaks, the kids repeat. It's a pretty backwards way of learning but, there have been improvements in different countries.

    I teach at an American school in an Arabic-speaking country, which basically means we use an American curriculum and teach all the subjects in English. We have a lot of students who start out at our school in Kindergarten, but we often get students who have transferred from Arabic-speaking schools and have a difficult time transitioning from the memorization model of learning, and a lot of them can not read or write in Arabic. Our students take Arabic language 5 times a week and, surprisingly, most of them struggle in it.

    So I would check with her parents/relatives first to see on what level she is in reading in Arabic.

    Also, if she's from Iraq, it's possible that she doesn't speak much Arabic if she's Assyrian or Kurdish. Might want to find that out if you haven't already.

    And to echo what someone else said, the month of Ramadan has just begun, so be sensitive to the fact that she might be fasting if she is Muslim, BUT just because she's from a Middle Eastern country does not necessarily mean she is Muslim. There's a fairly decent Christian population in Iraq as well as some other faith practices.

    Keep in mind if you do any listening activities for her in Arabic that there are many many many different dialects in Arabic and you will rarely find something for her to listen to in her own dialect. Most Arabic materials are Modern Standard Arabic or Egyptian Arabic. MSA would be closer to Iraqi Arabic but still might be difficult for her since she's so young. It just depends on what kind of schooling she had in Iraq.

    What a blessing to have an Iraqi student in your classroom! I absolutely love Arabic culture and I'm sure she'll bring some wonderful things to your classroom environment!
     
  13. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2009

    Partner her up with a different student each day. Kids learn from their peers. Even if they don't speak the same language, I bet your 4th graders would love to model the different activities they are doing and use gestures, etc to try to have the young lady participate with them.

    I just went to a SIOP (Sheltered Instructional Observation Protocol) training this week which is designed for teachers who teach English language learners. One thing they stressed is making sure each lesson has a clear content and language objective. The content is the knowledge the children will learn and the language is the way the child will express and work with this knowledge. You should state this to your students before you begin the lesson and also write it on the board. This can provide focus for your ELL's and makes them less anxious and more centered in the learning. It sounds like the child in your class may not even be ready for this yet, but she will catch on.

    An example would be:

    Content objective: Today you job is identify the parts of a flower.
    Language objective: You will describe the parts of a flower to your partner. Or you will draw and label the parts of a flower.



    Use LOTS of visuals and demonstrate and model what you want the children to do in your lessons. Both of these techniques will help all of your students.
     
  14. meeko32198

    meeko32198 Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2009

    Similar situation...

    I have two students from Iraq in my fourth grade student teaching classroom with similar language barriers. For the first week I tried to have them work with other students, but the other students often got frustrated and gave up. I'm so happy that some of you posted these websites.

    Right now I have 10 ELLs in my class of 25 kids. There is a large Somali population, a girl from Burundi, and the two from Iraq. It is difficult but the more you work with them and see them succeed it makes it worth it. :)
     
  15. TeachinHicks

    TeachinHicks Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2009

    www.babblefish.com is a good website to use to translate things for her too.

    I used it my first year when I had a student who spoke no english. He spoke spanish and I had several other students who could help me and him to translate too. I used this site to help him at least keep up with some vocabulary and give him some stuff to keep up on.
     

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