Tuesday, April 24, 2012

we are citizens of the world

English as a second language or English language learners are sprinkled through most classrooms these days. While I was brushing my teeth and thinking about Spanish syntactical phrases, yes, this happens more than I want to admit, and I realized that I cannot teach grammar for the rest of my life. wow. If I could teach art and culture then I would be fine, but there are too many standards for grammar. I blame all of these thoughts and feelings on the new kids I am tutoring. For the sake of privacy, I will only use letters to represent the kids. But I feel like sharing their stories with you.

M & K- from Bangkok,Thailand. entrance level 3 eighth and ninth grade.
D- born in Mexico, lived in California. entrance level 3 (thought it would be 4) reform school.
T- from Banusha, Ethiopia. entrance level 1 in third grade.

Today, M was working on vocabulary lists and I was astonished that the teacher game M definitions with harder words than the actual definition. I mean, who uses Totalitarianism regime in an eighth grade definition for the term suppress? M has a very strong background in schooling, as well as her brother K but I don't get to work with him as much. Their English was lacking when they arrived but they were considered top students when they were living in Thailand. M is reading an Agatha Christie novel and spends hours every night looking up words and highlight and defining; M is a model student and what ESL teachers refer to as the 'dream student.'

D should not be in the ESL program.  The teacher I work with told me she was so glad that I think that (she clearly agrees with me) and he should be in structured Reading classes, not ESL specific. One of my biggest frustrations I find is the ignorance people have for ESL students. These students do not have reading problems, they do not have hindrances for learning, their only obstacle is the linguistic barrier. ESL students are not LD, RM or any branch of Special Education students. Anyway, D is from a juvenile reform school for teenage boys. the reason he is at public school can be attributed to hard working and a good track record while he was at his juvenile school. D has a difficult attitude toward school that makes working with him a struggle. Often, D is distracted by the females in his class, or the tutors/student teachers and it will be a learning experience how to deal with a student who is violently, vocally stubborn.

T. T is the most precious student I ever met. she loves talking about her culture, friends and family in Ethiopia.  I got to see pictures of her family members and she talked a lot about her favorite food, injera.

proper injera has bubbles, like so.
She told me she wants to eat it every single second of every single day. Today we talked about Miss. Boss "e" and when you add 'e' to the end of some words, she takes over and changes the full pronunciation of the word.  T has become bilingual and fluent in English in one year. April 22nd marked her anniversary of being a cute little American girl.

These children are so precious and I cannot imagine working in any other classroom setting.  Kids in normal classrooms will learn in spite of you.  The children that are the hardest to teach are the ones who need you the most.

don't let schooling interfere with your education,

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