To teach a content area story that is not that suitable for ESL students in a mixed class, what will you do with the ESL students
You are an elementary language arts teacher. A portion of your kids are ESL. You start a content area story that is not suitable for ESL kids. In this situation, what you are going to do?
- Teach them only vocabulary words
- Put them in the corner of the class with an ESL tech.
- Teach them in the same way you are teaching regular kid
- Teach them something different
- Something else.
I would choose 3: Teach them the same way I would teach a regular kid provided that I am giving as many opportunities for visual illustrations that will help the children correlate the sounds to symbols and images.
ESL is about teaching in content, therefore, the isolated teaching of vocabulary words in an unacceptable practice, and one which has been banned from good ESL programs. Teaching them something different would be a ridiculous idea because the content area story itself IS something different. Finally, the ESL tech will not help the kids in any way with the language acquisition process, which happens naturally and incidentally. If anything, the ESL tech is more of an obstacle than a resource at times.
This is a challenging question to answer as there are many factors to consider--what ESL level is the student at? What age is the student? What content is being taught? For example is this an ESL level 1 student in an English 12 classroom facing All Quiet on the Western Front or an ESL level 3 student in an English 8 classroom reading The Outsiders?
So the answer to your question could range from 4. Teach them something different (in the case of the English 12 classroom and a level 1 ESL student) to 3. Teach them in the same way you are teaching regular kid but with support in the form of starting with vocabulary words that link to the text and visuals to support concepts (this would work in the case of the English 8 classroom and the level 3 ESL student). What should guide the decision is what would best meet the student's needs and what would give them a sense of accomplishment. Students would not learn if they experienced only failure in the process.
In all honesty, I think that much of this question is dependent on where one is in their teaching career. I think that there is a pragmatic consideration that has to be taken into account regarding situations such as this one. While there might be a desire to teach the kids something different, I think that one of the considerations that has to be taken is if one is tenured or of they actually have the chance to break out of such a situation. If we are operating in a setting where there is no pragmatic consideration for what a teacher needs to do or what they could only do, then one could implement any of the strategies to an extent. The teacher could work with an ESL specialist in delivering content as well technical proficiency of language difficulties. Yet, I think that needing to work within a specific context is going to be critical in effectively answering this particular question.
This is dependent really upon the level of language acquisition each student has reached. I have found that grouping my students in reading situations has worked well for my ESL students. Try to implement as many visuals as you possibly can and keep the pace slower if possible. If your school has side-by-sides, these are very useful - these would be the exact book, but in their primary language. Lists of cognates are helpful for the students to have with them at all times during class. If you have a student who speaks the student's primary language as well as english, there is also peer tutoring. I often will get my english speaking students started on their reading and then work with the individual ESL student, or group of ESL students, to provide them with additional support.
Stress the important vocabulary - if the are newcomers to the country, certainly limit your testing to vocabulary but provide pictures/picture dictionary/translator with the vocabulary. DO NOT put them in the corner of the class - this can hinder the affective part of their progression in the new culture and they NEED to feel included by YOU. They need to be taught just like the rest of the kids in your class if your school has determined that you will have inclusion or mainstreamed ESL kids, but they just need additional supports - visual aids, audio aids, translation devices, picture dictionaries, etc.