Show Me The Picture
My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s my TESOL Tuesday Teaching Tip:
TESOL Teaching Tip #1 – Use Pictures
One of the thing teachers are often surprised of with English Language Learners is how they can understand some difficult vocabulary, but then not know what a grape is. Remember that when English Language Learners are learning, they are not always understanding every word, so often there is basic, or non school vocabulary that they are missing. For example, I recently completed a Muslim Holiday Center Packet with my students. One of the activities was for them to draw a picture of words that were important to Ramadan. All of my kids could draw a picture of sunrise and sunset and pray and fast. The word that stumped them – date (as in the fruit you eat when you break your fast.) Now, if these students lived somewhere else, I would say maybe they don’t know what a date is, but this is Morocco, dates are a very common snack here. So, I went and did a google image search, showed my students a picture of a date, and all of a sudden, they understood.
This is the reason I say use pictures, use lots and lots of pictures as often as you can. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a google search, use www.askkids.com or have a ready supply of books, magazines or picture cards ready to explain those words that are often unexplainable. Showing a picture can get you through some of those simple words and on to more important topics, while allowing your English Language Learners to gain new vocabulary in the process. Don’t forget to come back for TESOL Teaching Tip #10 – where we will talk about how culture can also affect some of how these pictures are viewed by your students.