Saturday, August 20, 2011

ELL Students

For the first time in my teaching career I have several ELL students in my classroom. I'll admit that I really have no idea what to do for them. Two know how to speak English fairly well (enough to "get by"), but the rest only know a couple phrases. The phrases include "I don't speak English" and "I know little English". Comforting! Not.

I've been doing some research as I have been able to, but I haven't found anything that is really satisfying. Most places say to give visual vocabulary: word, picture, definition. This is something I already do, and it doesn't strike me as much "good ELL teaching" as it does just "good teaching". Other resources say to model everything. Uh, duh. And then other resources say to shorten the assignments and requirements for the ELL students. I'm not sure how that is helpful, but maybe?

The thing that really bothers me is that several times I've been told "they won't count against your AYP scores". Well, that's great...but it doesn't change the fact that I want these kids to learn Algebra I.

So for now, I am spending time translating my vocabulary into several different languages thanks to Google Translate. I am making the students write the English version, but they have their own language side-by-side so they at least know what they are writing. I think that will serve two purposes. One, they will grow their technical English vocabulary. Two, they will be able to answer the problems I give them in class because they will know words like "simplify", "evaluate", "sum", "subtract", etc... For now, I am not doing anything with the assignments. They are staying 100% English. The only work I am translating is the vocabulary.

I really wish there was some more helpful information out there about teaching ELL students. At the end of the day, they are still students in my classroom and I still want them to learn Algebra I. Even if they don't count against my AYP.

1 comment:

  1. That's great work. Those kinds of kids are challenging. I teach deaf students and English isn't their first language, American Sign Language (ASL) is. Teaching them English vocabulary is tough enough and ASL doesn't have any print to go alongside English! Wish Google Translate could do ASL. :)