Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Virtual Classrooms for ESL Students

You can only push a kid so fast and so hard. I teach a challenging course in my Computer Education course. With no set curriculum, I can look at what classroom teachers around the school are doing, and try to compliment that in my classroom. But what about the International Ed. students and ESL students in my courses? Czech, Hungarian, Korean, Mainland China; these kids are from all over the globe, but they are still kids like those in my classroom. When things become too difficult, when the water rises over their heads, they drown. Just like anyone else.

I have used shown my students how to use google translate. That worked well, but for many 11 year old and 12 year old students, they don't always advocate for themselves. If I don't open google translate for them, they don't consistently go there to ensure they understand the lesson.

To better help the ESL students in my class, I found a bit of code from the google translate tools page. It allows me to embed google translate into my lessons. This, plus the written detail, and screencasts or other visuals help a kid to understand what the lesson is all about. Even if I screencast in english (sorry, my Icelandic is a bit rusty) the visual example of a screencast about a lesson is very helpful.

And it is not just the students that benefit. In an informal poll of my students, grade 8 students ask their parents for help with their school work 2-5 times a week. What about ESL students? Often their parents do not know english as well as the student does. Parents are smart, and love their children, and want to help. By putting a translate button on the page, criteria, due dates, and screencasts or other visuals about the lesson, parents can look at the lesson and then support their kids learning at home.

To that end, if you would like to read this post in another language, I have put the google translate button on the right hand side of my page.


A votre sante !




gholden said...

Hi. I have virtual classrooms set up and will have French restaurants, transportations centres, etc., etc. ready to go for the end of the month. In these spaces a teacher can/will meet with their class and work through the classic phrases with them. The key advantage is both the authenticity of the environment (virtual though it may be), and the company of "othersa" that can participate and help where necessary. I am looking for a pretty fluent French class to participate with my English students. Any students who are fluent in Cantonese and getting by in English who would like to participate could contact me at NIDES (

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