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Kate Teague

WOW. That would be tough. I teach at an almost all Indo-canadian school- most of my class is non-english speaking when they start Kindergarten but by the time they get to Grade two they won't STOP talking! For them, it's cultural. The best thing I have done is get to know the culture that I am dealing with- I have hosted Korean students in the summers at my house and their culture is so different- I agree with the above poster- it is most likely shameful for them to hand in subpar work. I can't imagine trying to teach them Shakespeare- wow. That's a bit crazy if you ask me. They basic English. When we get new students in Grade 6 or 7, they are out with our ESL teachers (we have 5 in my elementary) for a good part of the day and they are not really expected to do the same work right away. Again as said above, my hat is off to you! That's atough hill to climb.

miss h

K and Jennifer's suggestions are really practical (coming from a former ESL teacher -- I did my 4-year undergrad in TESL, taught in Taiwan, and travelled throughout Asia). While it is so important to have an idea of where students are at, and in order to track their progress, these students are also not likely the same type of learner as your average North American student. Some thoughts about handling the process of assessment:

* talk to their ESL support - have they already done an assessment? What does it show? You might want to do a running record or some sort of similar test to show fluency now, and test again at a mid and end point to show a progression

* if you do proceed with assessment, make sure that students know you do not expect perfection - in the most non-confrontational, non-public way possible. Don't want to hand something in? No problem. Talk to them after class. Keep on (gently) explaining that we often measure the process, not just the product - they might come around!

* Use an abridged version of your class text, as well as a side-by-side copy (if you can find it). You might consider (particularly for a text like the Odyssey - easier to source due to its classic nature), keeping a graphic novel version of the text you are focusing on to appeal to different types of learners (not to replace the class text, but to ensure understanding)

* recognise that the students and parents are likely accustomed to a system that requires a LOT of memorisation. In the short term, strengths will likely be reflected in these areas - ie, memorising vocabulary, definitions. If students are provided with a mother tongue version of the text, they will likely focus hard on 'memorising' key points, and, if provided with a side by side translation, work hard at understanding vocabulary points and making connections between the two. The result will be technical fluency for the most part, but the contextual fluency will take longer. If given the appropriate tools (considering the amount of pressure they probably get at home) I think you will be surprised at how well they perform. And, hopefully they will be able to pick up the nuances from their peers!

Natalie F.

Teaching ESL/ELL students is a challenge, but a rewarding one I believe. In my experience, they are often very eager to learn, but the difficulty is finding out what level they are at and then how to adjust your lessons for them. I've found several ebooks at http://www.dedicatedteacher.com for ESL/ELL students that are very useful and have been a big help to me in my classes. They cover a variety of subjects, including writing, and have helped me tailor my lessons for the ESL/ELL students in my class. Keep up the great blog!

Lila

I admire the way that you take the time to make sure that your students can be successful in your classroom. Having new students in your classroom is a challenge, especially if they don't speak English. They have a whole culture that we are not familiar with. Your student's culture could play a role in not wanting to show you his work. Taking time to learn about his culture may help you. I would also encourage you to make a home visit or contact the student's family so that you can get to know more about his background.

Lila

I admire the way that you take the time to make sure that your students can be successful in your classroom. Having new students in your classroom is a challenge, especially if they don't speak English. They have a whole culture that we are not familiar with. Your student's culture could play a role in not wanting to show you his work. Taking time to learn about his culture may help you. I would also encourage you to make a home visit or contact the student's family so that you can get to know more about his background.

Ian Davidson

Hi:

I just found your blog and love it, keep up the great work!

Ian

Chet Swearingen

I wonder how I would do with an exchange student!

teacher resources

there is a great program in asia called the MBN program it allows you to meet other delegants from your country and cater to their needs.

lbw

I took on an Anglo moniker as a kid because the teachers just kept mispronouncing my name. I remember feeling really embarrassed for both them and myself. I was the only ethnic kid in the school/area though and this was a long time ago - back before the age of ethnic diversity. Having said that I recently found out that a kid in my class changed his surname so that he would fit in! Now I think that's a pretty big deal. The whole family changed their name by deed poll.

Ellisha

I really did enjoy reading your blog. I can tell from your writing style that you are indeed an english teacher. I have also had students in my class who are ESOL. Your situation made me consider the question...Do you wish to teach them how to speak the language , or rather are you trying to teach them to have a love of literature? If it is the latter, then can you find at least portions of the text in their native language? That may allow you to see what they are truly capable of without the language barrier.

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