Teaching Immigrant and Refugee students

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by pennyandme, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. pennyandme

    pennyandme Rookie

    Jul 17, 2017
    Likes Received:

    Jul 24, 2017

    I've recently been hired in a new district where I'll be working with mostly immigrant and refugee students. Many of the students speak very little English. Most of them are newcomers, so some have little schooling experience and the experience they do have has been interrupted. I want to get off on the right foot with my new kiddos, while creating a calm and nurturing environment where they feel safe. I have to admit that I'm not quite sure what to expect, as I don't have much experience with a classroom that is primarily ELL outside of some subbing gigs.

    Do any of you have any suggestions for a solid start to the school year? What should I expect and what have your experiences been?

    Edit: I will be teaching 4th graders, if that helps narrow things down a bit! I will have them all day, but there will be an ESL teacher coming in to do English lessons with them in the afternoon.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Jul 19, 2014
    Likes Received:

    Jul 24, 2017

    If you haven't visited the Free Links thread, you might want to. These are ESL links that I pretty much knew where they were, so I pulled them out. It sounds like you will have SIFEs, so if you want to do some research, that will be the term to use to research your type of ESL student. Yes, I am an ESL teacher, as is my son, so although I don't get to use the ESL certificate very much, the master's degree is still stuck in my brain. Hope this helps. When you know a little more about the regions and ages, if you share, there are others on the forum who can give more help. I am sure that you must know about some of the tried and true sites, but they are listed in these links anyway. Best of luck!
      • mastersinesl.com/leading-sources/
    pennyandme likes this.
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Jul 24, 2017

    When I student taught, one of my classes were newcomer, refugee students. Most of these kids are traumatized from the disruptions that occurred in their lives (mine were from Iraq, they witnessed / experienced bombing, kidnapping for ransom, death, violence, hunger, etc.).
    Very important to have structures and procedures in place, for everything. A lot of these kids don't know how to behave in a school. especially since they're from a very different part of the world, and their experiences were very different, and because they had so little schooling.
    A safe and loving environment is a must, but that also means consistent and strict. I've seen classrooms that were a chaos because the teacher didn't enforce everything, and classrooms where it was wonderful. The kids in these two classrooms had very different experience and progresses of learning.

    If you can find a way to communicate with the parents, that is huge1 If you don't speak the students' first language, find a secretary or another teacher that will help you make phone calls home, or send notes to have signed. I did that and it had a huge impact!

    Finally, even if you speak the students' first language, you don't use it with them.
  5. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

    Apr 14, 2006
    Likes Received:

    Aug 1, 2017

    Calm environment, yes. Routines are a must. Firm but kind managerial style from you is necessary. Understand that trauma does not always equal behavior problems. I have known siblings coming from the same abusive household that have not reacted the same way at school. One child acted out-hiding, rages, throwing things, etc. His sister was the most loving cheerful child imaginable, and his younger brother didn't take part in class much for the first month or so of school. Some children are resistant to learning the language or show attachment issues. I just don't want you to hear the word "trauma" and think your life will be a whirlwind of behavior issues.

    Academically, my advice is meet the kids where they are as much as possible. Do you work with small groups at all? If the child doesn't know letters and sounds in English don't expect them to be able to operate at the same level as your native speakers, but DO involve them in lessons. Find kids who would make great helpers and partner them up with your newcomers. You don't have to do everything yourself. Have the partners help with flashcards or play language games with them, read books together, etc. If your classroom has access to iPads there are many wonderful apps to help with language and math development as well. I don't recommend students be on the devices too much, but it is nice to give them relevant practice at their level while you are working other reading groups or teaching math that is far beyond their abilities. There are a number of different teaching techniques that are very helpful to students I'd suggest such as use of graphic organizers, scaffolding lessons as needed, etc. Check out the book Word Nerds for vocabulary activities you can use across the curriculum with all students in your class. And never be afraid to ask for help.

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