No English At All

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HistoryVA, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 21, 2013

    My block 1 US History class (sophmores) is clearly going to be my biggest challenge this year. Every time I teach it, I'm exhausted by the end of the 90 minutes. It's my largest class (30) and has within it:

    8 young men who struggled with behavioral issues throughout last year. 6 are respectful, just hard to handle, but 2 very confrontational

    4 young ladies who seem to hate each other and apparently spend the period silently threatening to beat each other up

    and the real subject of this post, 5 young ladies who don't speak a. single. word. of. English. It's not broken, it's not "developing", it's non-existent. They've been thrown to the wolves (other than 1 block of ESL, they're in all regular classes) and I'm not sure what to do with them.

    They're not receiving traditional grades (and they're clearly not going to pass the standardized test anyway, so no need to worry about standards) so I'm trying to come up with ways to teach them SOMETHING without adding to their stress. Having been an immigrant, I can't imagine how overwhelming their daily life is, but my classes are generally very rigorous- I never even have SPed students, so I'm struggling to get down to their language level.

    In addition, because my class is so large and I have to keep all of the loud, behaviorally challenged students on-task, I don't have as much time to spend with the ESL kids as I would like.

    Does anyone have any experience working with Level 1 ESL students within a traditional classroom? Or know of any online resources? I want to start giving them modified graphic organizers and class works, but when I just created one for an ESL student in my WHII class (luckily, I only have 1 in that class), it just looked so childish... I guess I'm concerned that if it's too young-seeming, it'll be insulting to them?

    Any input would be appreciated! :)
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I have taught a couple students who also knew not a word of English. It was horrible...I just felt awful for them. :(

    I was given zero resources and I find that to be unacceptable (especially because the language wasn't Spanish, which would have been a bit easier for me to deal with on my own). I'm not suggesting what I did was right, but I often allowed them to work on math in my language arts class. Now, being more experienced and tentured, I'd throw a big enough fit to get the district to help me help the students.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I've never run into this problem as a classroom teacher, but during my field placements, I was in a classroom where a young lady came into the classroom... literally her first day in the country, from Turkey. Luckily, there was another girl in the classroom that spoke fluent Turkish, who helped translate for the new girl. Do any students in your room speak the same language as your new students?
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 22, 2013

    What are the home languages? Are the students literate in their home language(s)?
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I've been there a few times. I was vocal enough about it to have the child removed. Good luck - I know it has to be tough.
     
  7. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 22, 2013

    All 5 girls speak Spanish (thank goodness for small victories) so I'm working (slooooowwwww district) on getting some Spanish materials. They do seem to be at the proper level of literacy for their language, but extremely lacking in social studies knowledge. One girl is from El Salvador and did not know what World War II was (A spanish teacher asked the girls some questions). The only history she'd ever been taught in school was El Salvadorian history.

    There's no one in the class who's fluent in both languages. We do have a history teacher who speaks fluent Spanish (wrong history though), so I did let them write an assignment in Spanish last class and he'll take a look at it. I can't ask him to grade their work daily, though.

    As far as having the girls removed, that would just put them in the same situation in someone else's class and while I adore my colleagues, I also know that none of them will put forth as much as effort to help the girls. So, it's better we all just stick together. It wouldn't be as overwhelming if they weren't also in my largest and most behaviorally difficult class.

    I'm starting to make some assignments that are very basic language and lots of pictures. I just hope it doesn't come across as dismissive or patronizing.
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I didn't mean to imply that I tossed my students out because I didn't want them. But I couldn't serve them. There was no way they'd be able to pass my class, much less the standardized test at the end. They were removed from my class and given an elective. One that didn't require complex thought and have a lot of vocabulary.

    Sometimes when students join our school they are placed in classes according to their age, not their ability. In high school @@. So a student with no formal education could be placed in an Algebra II class simply because they are the age of a junior. It is maddening.
     
  9. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Oh I didn't mean to imply that you implied that... or whatnot. :p It's actually the exact same situation here. They're in my class because they're sophmores, full stop. All sophmores go to US History. I can't serve them, there's no way they'd pass my class (which is the only relief I have that I don't have to fail them, but give them a special score) and there's no way they can pass my standardized test. My class is high level in vocabulary and writing.

    The only difference is that my school doesn't offer any other option. There's no social studies elective (save WHI and Psych, which are senior-level courses) and special ed students are in co-taught classes, but they'd be just as unprepared to help them.

    My district, over the last 5 years, has seen a MAJOR upswing in Hispanic immigration and was completely unprepared resource/planwise. And now, sadly, we're down to this. Hopefully my fussing about resources will give us some materials for down the line.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 22, 2013

    When students are literate in the home language, a bilingual visual dictionary can be very helpful. Oxford used to sell a pretty good series (Spanish-English, Arabic-English, French-English, etc.) that that was pretty good and pretty reasonably priced.

    DK's Eyewitness books are highly visual and, while kid-friendly, don't tend to read like they're written down: I recommend them to English-speaking adults, and they cover a good many historical topics.
     
  11. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Does your ESL teacher have time to help you modify assignments or even work directly with some students during your class? Not sure how that works in every school. At mine, the ESL teacher teaches two periods and then does consultation/in-class support the rest of the day. Hopefully you have a similar arrangement at your school!
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Wow, what a challenge you have been given.

    For part of your US History time, videos with subtitles in their language could be helpful. There are some very good ones on Youtube and also in public libraries. Since you have several languages, you may want to get a few computers with headphones in order to have a few languages going at once.

    Also, books on tape/CD in their language could help. Some of these might be able to be found on the internet.

    Also, using written assignments on the internet and having Google to translate them. Google can put the information in nearly any language. Then you can print it out or have them read it online.

    I realize these "solutions" aren't without problems. I don't think you'll find a perfect solution, but those mentioned above might help non-English speakers to learn some US History. That is a good thing.
     
  13. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I had a girl last year who spoke no English. She spoke only Chinese. I struggled because we gave some partner tests in the class, and she couldn't communicate. I usually put her in groups of 3, but still. She was graded pass/fail, which was good. It was a math class so she could do some problems, but it was also geometry so she couldn't handle the proofs or all of the vocabulary.

    They originally had a bilingual girl in class with her who spoke Chinese and English, but this bilingual girl's schedule changed her out of my class. I felt bad as they really didn't tell me any ways to help her other than to grade her pass/fail and to modify assignments "as I saw fit". The ESL teacher has to serve all 4 elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school so she was of little use to me when contacted. She also teaches classes in addition to supporting teachers.

    I struggled and my class was smaller than yours (24), and minimal behavior challenges so I can't imagine what you're going through.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I don't suppose there's any way the district could provide a Spanish speaking translator, possibly with headsets???

    Any chance you could get Donors Choose to fund the electronics? And maybe get a Spanish speaking volunteer cleared to do it?
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I'd like to add that I was told to not really worry about trying too hard (basically) because the students' families had weekend education in their language.
     
  16. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Thank you everyone for the suggestions! I'm def going to look into these.

    Unfortunately, we share our ESL teacher with 2 other schools, so he's stretched pretty thin. I think he'd love to help, but we have about 20 Level 1 ESL students (not to mention the Level 2-6s) just in MY school. I can't imagine how busy he is.

    The videos with subtitles and electronic translators are great ideas- I'm going to try to find some now. I could let the girls watch those videos while I'm giving lecture to the other kids, then try to work with them while the rest are completing an assignment.

    Thanks again!
     
  17. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Sit the girls next to students who are helper students and are patient. Give the girls lots of positive reinforcement and try to explain things to them slowly. Allow them to use dictionaries, but stay away from direct translations- especially internet translations. They're almost unintelligible. I like to do vocab boxes where there's: "vocab word" "vocab word translated into native language" "vocab word definition (in English)" "picture". This will help them build vocabulary for your class.

    Also, even though they say they've never heard of WW2 I bet they know a lot about the USA. I know very "simple" people here in CR who are just as up to date on US politics as I am. And you better bet they watch tons of US tv shows! I think they'll do just fine. They'll be slower, but they'll make it.
     

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