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 A question to an experienced teacher... 
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Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:38 pm
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Location: Boone, NC
I had the chance to ask a teacher about her experiences teaching in a school where for some of the children English was not their first language and how she coped with it.

Me: How well were you prepared to teach students who speak English as a second language? How are you dealing with these kids and how much would being able to speak Spanish help you in your job?


Teacher: Working as a literacy teacher in an elementary school w/ a 30% ESL (English as a Second Language) population, I’ve found, for the most part, that the non-English speaking kids are excited to learn English and to learn to read. This is probably b/c of strong home support. Their parents encourage them to learn English quickly since the family needs the language skills their children are learning to help them get along.
Teaching the young ESL kids to read hasn't been a problem since so much of beginning reading is picture based. If the students have any literacy skills from having attended school in their home country, it is much easier for them to transfer that knowledge and learn to read in English. The biggest obstacle is that these kids often haven't had the experiences that other kids their age are expected to have had so their prior knowledge (upon which new learning is based) is limited. This is especially difficult for upper elementary ESL kids since they are only exempt from EOG testing for 2 years.
Although I remember very little Spanish from my high school days, the ESL kids enjoy it when I say something to them in Spanish or ask them to tell me the Spanish words for what we're studying. Knowing how to speak Spanish would be an added benefit when working w/ those children who come knowing no English, have had little school experience, and have limited basic knowledge. As a rule, the younger the children are the easier it is for them to learn to speak English. And, the more they can read in their native language the faster they'll learn to read in English.
Not speaking Spanish and teaching on an elementary level has not been a problem for me b/c our school has a very strong ESL program. I could imagine that it would be a valuable asset, however, for middle school or high school teachers teaching in the content areas.

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Daniel Thomas


Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:29 am
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Daniel, did the teacher suggest trying to teach ESL kids to read in spanish at first and then move to english?


Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:53 am
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