Talking infrequently

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by Nicolette Brata, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. Nicolette Brata

    Nicolette Brata Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2006

    I.Y. (girl, 4 years old) seems to enjoy school and is always willing to try activities initiated by her teacher or peers. She is an ESL student, but her involvement and ability to follow instructions shows that she understands the language. Her fist language is Indonesian, the language of the country she lives in and spoken by many of her peers and by all her teachers (as a first or second language). She performs well in what she undertakes. She shares and listens, and seems to occupy her time constructively.
    At the beginning of the school year she didn’t express any interest or enthusiasm for the activities in and around the class, but she would just follow in a ‘silent mode’. Although I could see she enjoyed songs, she wouldn’t join in singing. This was not a physical problem: we heard her speak (and know she does at home) and she can follow instructions without help of others (models). It seems to be that she is unwilling to speak, although there are a few other ESL students in the class, who mainly express themselves in Indonesian.
    10 Months later … holiday, but she is still in my mind. I tried many strategies (e.g. encourage and reinforce talking without forcing; praise; granting spoken wishes only; using activities of her interest; increasing peer interaction; structure situations to encourage talking, modeling and ensuring her it is okay to make mistakes or to use Indonesian etc.) to support her oral development. By the end of the year she would communicate in Indonesian with peers and she would join English songs (whole class activity) . She performed a dance and sang some songs on stage and was overall a happy girl, which she would express with a smile (I can’t remember I ever heard her laugh).
    However, in small groups, whole class or teacher-student one-on-one situations (with me in Indonesian or with an Indonesian assistant teacher) she would use nonverbal communication only. Many of her work stayed undocumented because we couldn’t get a comment out of her.
    I don’t feel I failed, because I made some progress, but I wonder what else I could have done to support her? How can I support my colleague who will continue to work with her? Are you a ‘talking infrequently’ expert? Do you have any successful strategies to share?
     
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  3. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2006

    I don't have any advice, but I had a similar situation when I was student teaching. I taught 2nd grade, and had one little girl in my class who was spending her first year here in the States... she had lived in Mexico previously, and her parents spoke Spanish at home. This little girl was transplanted to a place where, not only does she not know anyone, but she doesn't know anything they're saying, either! She received ESL services (she was in a pair with a boy from our class who often translated for her to make sure she understood instructions in class) daily, but didn't speak in there, either, even in Spanish. She was VERY reluctant to talk to anyone in our classroom, student or teacher... although she often wrote things in English, and she would very occasionally whisper something ever so softly.

    We elected to just accept this as normal, knowing that many ESL kids have an adjustment period (think about it... if you were suddenly transplanted to a strange country where everyone spoke differently, you might be quiet for a while too so you didn't sound stupid!)... we saved her until close to the end for our "star of the week," who gets to bring in items from home to show off. I suggested to her that she might want to write down what she wanted to say first... it was only one sentance and ever-so-soft, but the entire class applauded for her when she showed off her pastel bear.

    We were doing a lesson on Venn diagrams where the kids (in pairs of trios) interviewed each other and then wrote about their similarities and differences. We REALLY wanted every kid to participate, so my CT took her aside and asked her who she'd be OK talking to. We paired her with that student, and allowed them to do their interviews in the hallway so it was quieter. It took a LONG time, but she did finally orally answer the questions.

    Sometimes we just have to remember that it's OK, and they'll speak when they feel comfortable. The few times she said something to me, I'll never forget those moments... and when she gave me a letter when I left that said "You help me talk good." my heart melted. ;)
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2006

    There can be a lot of different stories behind a kid not wanting to talk, just as there are many different ways to learn. Nicolette, it sounds like you did pretty much everything that could have been done without knowing more about the girl's home life and psyche. You've probably laid a good foundation for her.

    As to your little girl, clarnet: oh, my: isn't that among the moments we teach for?
     
  5. Nicolette Brata

    Nicolette Brata Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2006

    Thanks Clarnet73, I like the idea of asking her with whom she would like to work in a group. I can advice my colleague to do this when she forms her center work teams. It must be a wonderful moment to experience that first sentence in English ... she'll be next door and I hope she will share that moment with me too.
    Thank you and TeacherGroupie too for your marvelous supportive words!
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Money's nice, but the real pay in teaching is getting to bask in the glow when a kid (or grownup, believe me) suddenly really grasps what you've been teaching. Sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes you just have to hope and to look for signs of the beginning of a breakthrough that will be completed by someone else.
     
  7. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I had a little guy who didn't talk for about six months aside from saying his name and the word "NO" he was a bit younger. An ESL situation (Spanish) He just Turned four but he had just turned three when he started. After a few months passed he was REFUSING to speak in Spanish and talking up a storm in ENGLISH.... for some kids it just takes time to adjust to new situations.
     
  8. Nicolette Brata

    Nicolette Brata Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    Late rewards

    Maybe I have been worried about nothing, but because it was the very first time it happen this way with a student in my class, I just wanted to make sure I did everything I could.
    Thank you for sharing your experience 'Chicagoturtle' and yes 'Teachergroupie' I do agree money can't pay those super special 'wow' moments of a teacher!
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 16, 2006

    I wouldn't say you've been worried about nothing... what I would say is that sometimes you have to let go. That's not an easy place to be, Nicolette, and I'm sorry.
     
  10. Nicolette Brata

    Nicolette Brata Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2006

    correction

    Thank you for the correction. 'Worried about nothing' refered to my teaching methods, not to the student, because until she starts speaking she will continue to be 'a worry', for her new teacher and for me as a team member!
    I agree, I need to let her go to the next teacher. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate her first conversation next school year.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2006

    My son didn't speak out loud at school until he ws near the end of grade 2. Although he spoke at home and with his friends (so we knew that he didn't have any speech delays) he was painfully shy. With the help of some incredibly patient and supportive teachers he was finally able to begin to communicate verbally at school. He is now an honours student going into grade 11 and remembers very clearly what his Kindergarten and Grade 2 teachers did to help him.
     
  12. Nicolette Brata

    Nicolette Brata Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2006

    Thank you for sharing your experience MrsC. My guesses with I.Y. went in the same direction as your example (painfully shy). Patience seems to be the keyword here!
     

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