Saturday, April 23, 2011


This week I taught newcomer ESL at OHS for four days. It was really interesting and exciting and a new challenge. My day went like this:

Per 1/2 - Language arts block with all the students.
Per 3 - Prep
Per 4- ESL Math with half the students.
Per 5 - ESL Math with the other half of the students.
Per 6 - Duty
Per 7 - Language support with all the students. (Computer reading programs, reading time, conversation practice, HW help, etc.)

At OHS, they have the ESL kids divided into two sections - those who had school in their country of origin and those who didn't. I had the kids who didn't, which makes life even more interesting.
One thing I learned really quickly is that these students are not reflected in mass-produced ESL curriculum. One passage that we read was entitled "My English Class" and listed all the people in the narrator's class. They were from Mexico, Puerto Rico, China, Japan, and France. My kids? They were from Somalia, Chad, Kenya, Burma, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It's really hard explaining to kids who just learned the English alphabet in September (or more recently, since immigration plans don't really take into account our school year) that the "J" sound is totally different if they are reading about "Juan." Another bizarre thing was that while the curriculum did include a nice variety of foreign names, all the "American" names were old-fashioned ones like Frank, Loretta, Patty, or Margaret. Really, how often will today's generation need to stumble over "Margaret" rather than "Jessica?" Also, I totally skipped the reading lesson that wanted them to try and decipher cursive. That's just cruel.
The last period of my last day there, I gave them a little break - we watched shorts from "Shaun the Sheep" by Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit guy) and I made a little handout to answer questions using this week's vocabulary and sentence structure. Nick Park's stuff is awesome for this because there is no dialogue - all the plot is shown with action and expression. It makes everything very universal. Here's one that we watched:

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