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 Lost in the Language Battle 
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During my practicum experience this semester, I had a student in the class that spoke only Spanish. During class, he would sit around doing nothing or he would get on the computer and play games. Other than that, he was not active in the actual learning part of the classroom. If you had a kid in your class that spoke only another language, what would you as a teacher do in order to help that kid?


Tue Apr 19, 2005 9:27 pm
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Wow! This is a good question. I would do what I could to learn the other language and about the student's culture. I would also speak to a resource teacher and my administrators about getting a possible translator in the classroom and about getting someone to work with him one-on-one to work on his English skills. Other than that, I don't really know what else I would do.


Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:39 pm
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If I had a student in my classroom that spoke another language only I would first of all enroll him in a ELL program at the school. If there were not one I would do everything I could to get one at my school. I would also learn a few common words of the language so I could at least communicate with him using common words. I had a camp kid that was deaf mute and learning a few common words in sign language helped me communicate with this child over the summer. Another thing I would do would be to teach the other students in my classroom the words that I learn so they can also communicate with the student who speaks another language. I would do my best to make the child feel comfortable and welcome in my classroom.

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Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:15 pm
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If i had a student with a language barrier, I would definitely first contact the ESL program at the school. After that while we were trying to to get along in the classroom and creat an envoiroment where we communicate,an interesting Idead i heard of was trying to use some symbols from sign language. Even making up a few key hand signals would help improve communication till both of you could meet on a middle ground of communication.


Thu Apr 21, 2005 2:32 pm
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As strange as this may sound, I think as teachers we should all know basic Spanish as a part of our license. We may not even use it everywhere we teach, but chances are we will run into at least one student who speaks very little English. Also, I have been told that knowing Spanish is a huge plus for employers and you’ll find a job quicker. For myself I know no Spanish at all, so I wonder how would I ask the child any questions, or understand the child if he says he is sick or if he needs permission to use the bathroom?

My older sister and her family live in San Diego, and she often comments that Caucasians are by far the minority in her son’s school, and that most teachers must be bilingual in the younger grades to accommodate the large Hispanic population there.


Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:42 pm
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I hope in the next few years our school systems will have dealt with this, but it has not been uncommon lately. Many of our schools don't have programs for kids such as this. We even have ESL teachers who don't speak foriegn languages. In a way that makes sense because they can't speak every language. In the situation you described, the best bet may be to team the student up with another student who can help translate. The kids in early grades learn language fast; this is a bigger issue with our older students.


Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:28 pm
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I would think, but I'm not at all sure, that this would fit into a student's IEP. If it doesn't then I think that it should. That would mean that hopefully would be lots of people at the school (and hopefully the parents) involved in helping this kid the the individualized instruction that he would need. A student in one of the classes that I have observed spoke very little english (she was from China) and for some reason couldn't work with the ESL person (maybe she was an exchange student or something, I can't remember). In the classroom, the teacher sat her beside someone really patient and helpful and went to her after she gave any directions to see if she needed assistance. I guess you just have to be patient and look for as much material as you can find that will help your student succeed despite the initial language barrier.


Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:17 pm
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I remember when I was in elementary school I had some Hispanic students in my class that sat in the back of the room and colored during class. I speak some Spanish so I hope that I could help Spanish speaking students. This is such a tough question and teachers have large classes so it is difficult to give these students the one on one time they deserve. It would be cool to find someone that spoke both languages that would volunteer their time to help.


Sun Apr 24, 2005 6:04 pm
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This is something that has been burdening me for quite sometime now. I really want to learn spanish because of the rapidly growing population in our country and our schools. I think it is our duty as teachers to learn a language that is so fast growing in our country. If i had a student like this I would first learn about the child's culture and research the learning and educational methods of that culture so that I could understand the child more. I would then try and learn a little of the language to be able to communicate a decent amount with them. I would also try and get as many resources as I could like texts in their language, a resource teacher that could communicate with the child and be a translator. It is so important that we be able to talk to all of our students. It is our duty and obligation as teachers.


Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:36 pm
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