Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Helping Your ESL students

This year I will be teaching all the students in my school. 780+ students. I only get 7.5 weeks with the grade 6 and 7 students. A student teacher dropped by my class yesterday, visiting from another teacher's classroom, and she made a great observation. During my introduction to the class, she picked out an ESL student who has some real difficulties with the english language. She had trouble understanding what I was saying. How could she do her work?

I went to Google Translate. I then cut and paste my assignment into the text box and translated my assignment from English to Simplified Chinese. My student could read it! That and pairing her with another student who speaks Cantonese (not Mandarin which would have been ideal) will enable her to do her work.

I bet ESL students could use this site, or one of the many other sites like it in conjunction with a netbook to do their work in class. They still will be learning english. It just supports their learning while they are learning a new language.

Don't most of us as teachers type our work up on computers already? Stop hitting print so often I say, and start giving our ESL kids the digital copies to work with.


Anton said...

Thanks for this insightful post.
I attended an American High school as a ESL student, and I ended up translating a lot of the content and notes into German so I could fully understand the concept.

Having digital copies of the materials would have been very helpful and allowed me to learn and work faster and efficiently.

So, thank you for addressing this issue and offering some simple solutions.

Anton Bollen

James Gill said...

Thank you for your thoughtful words Anton. My hope is that we begin to use digital textbooks soon, so that we can take advantage of translation. Copyright protection seems to be a tricky thing to work out. Some of my educator friends are contemplating the use of creating teacher/student wiki's to REPLACE textbooks!

With today's technology, you could have written your thoughts in German (while learning english) and translated them so that you could contribute your knowledge to the classroom wiki / textbook!