What might be a good suggestion for the following situation:I have some students who came from oversees long ago. They still have problems understanding English conversation and  communicating...

What might be a good suggestion for the following situation:

I have some students who came from oversees long ago. They still have problems understanding English conversation and  communicating with local people.

Asked on by mubin2712

6 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Use your dining room table as a classroom.  Invite everyone over for meals, and have conversations about whatever you want.  You can talk about celebrities, movies, current events or the sights of the host city.  This way, everyone gets practice in a safe and fun way.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The pattern discussed above has been happening for centuries.  Humans follow the path pf least resistance, and they tend to gravitate towards what is comfortable.  For non-native speakers of any language, their first language is most comfortable.

So one way to help is to set up comfortable situations where English is the only language spoken.  Pair them up with students (at lunch, perhaps? After school? Tutoring programs? Sports?) who will practice the language with them.  You could also offer to let them teach the other student their native language too.

In my overseas exchange program, I had an "intercambio" who would teach me local Spanish in Sevilla, and I taught her English.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The problem I see is that perhaps that group of students has a tendency to stick together amongst themselves (which is quite normal and expected) and have found in sticking together that comfort zone that does not help us move forward at times. Especially at that age group.

As a EFL team, here are some ideas for interventions:

1. Separate the students by levels of interest rather than by language ability.  Ensure that no more than 4 students are in the same classroom. Schedule their lessons separately, as well as their lunches.

2. Assign mentors to each student. At that age students feel embarrassed to ask for help. Provide them with it.

3.Offer extra curricular activities for EFL students without mentioning the EFL component. Offer cool activities such as crafting, cooking, dancing. When EFL students go with  their mentors they will have a chance to share and do interactive team building language practice without even noticing.

4. Always provide differentiated instruction and base your teaching strategies on skills and data-based monitoring.

Hope this helps!

  Let me underscore this post as noting that students do, indeed, flock to those similar to them.  For instance, there is a young man who has been in the United States for two years, yet he speaks very little English and cannot read or write at a literate level.  Why?  For a year, he lived in Boston in an ethnic area where stores, churches, clinics all have speakers of his language.  Now as a college freshman, he groups with his same ethnic group again and simply uses an electronic translator or a friend for doing his schoolwork.

The suggestions of both posters before this one are excellent for getting students out of that comfort zone.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You say these people came from overseas "long ago."  So are these adults?  Or teens, or what?

In my opinion, only immersion can help.  If these are teens, perhaps you can arrange for them to spend time in groups where they are the only speaker of a foreign language.  Do your best to make sure that the other people are kind people so that you can encourage your students not to be ashamed.  The only way to speak a language better is to try and try and not be afraid to sound dumb.

So try to set up situations where they must speak to native speakers and try to minimize the chance that they will be humiliated.

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The problem I see is that perhaps that group of students has a tendency to stick together amongst themselves (which is quite normal and expected) and have found in sticking together that comfort zone that does not help us move forward at times. Especially at that age group.

As a EFL team, here are some ideas for interventions:

1. Separate the students by levels of interest rather than by language ability.  Ensure that no more than 4 students are in the same classroom. Schedule their lessons separately, as well as their lunches.

2. Assign mentors to each student. At that age students feel embarrassed to ask for help. Provide them with it.

3.Offer extra curricular activities for EFL students without mentioning the EFL component. Offer cool activities such as crafting, cooking, dancing. When EFL students go with  their mentors they will have a chance to share and do interactive team building language practice without even noticing.

4. Always provide differentiated instruction and base your teaching strategies on skills and data-based monitoring.

Hope this helps!

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is a difficult question to answer given the lack of details of the full situation.  I taught at one high school that had a very large ESL program.  The native language of the majority of its students was either Spanish or Urdu.  I found in teaching and meeting with several of these ESL students, that those who had the easiest time learning English were the ones who did their best to branch away from their comfort zones and really forced themselves to get to know and talk to students who did not speak their language.

Because of the sheer number of students in the ESL program who all spoke the same native languages, several students went through four years of high school and still had very minimal English skills in speaking and reading.  Most had a high comprehension in listening.

All this is to say, my best advice is to put these students in (perhaps slightly uncomfortable) social situations where they are alone in the knowledge of their native language.  If there is no one available to translate, they will be forced to learn English and likely will at a much quicker rate.  If the social situation is one that is comfortable in every other way beyond the language barrier, and you can introduce these students to native English speakers who have other things in common with them, hopefully they will make emotional or other connections that encourage them to overcome the language barrier.

I frequently used to joke to students who were reluctant to leave their language comfort zones that they should just start dating someone who did not speak their language.  Though it sounds funny, I have several foreign language teacher friends who claim this is the way they ended up fully immersing themselves in their second languages.

We’ve answered 318,957 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question