Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yo No Habla Espanol

I have a confession to make...

I have no idea how to help students that do not speak English. I was not ever trained to help them. I have not (as of today) ever had a student in my classroom that could not speak English so I have not ever looked into learning more about how to help students who are not English speaking students. It is not that I'm not aware of the increasing population of Spanish speaking students in our area, it just has not effected me... YET!

I was basically kicked out of my Spanish II class in high school and barely passed (I got a 69.5) so you can imagine, I'm scared! I am, what I consider, a highly qualified teacher, but I have had zero, zilch, nada training in how to teach children who do not speak English.

I guess I know my next Individual Growth Plan goal... but seriously, what does this say about the education teachers are receiving in undergrad? Are undergrad programs changing to meet the needs of the population of children in our classrooms today? I'm not just speaking about ELL students, but all students: developmentally delayed, autistic, ADD, AG, 21st century learners, etc. The hardest part of our job is differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all the students in our classroom and last I checked my classroom is getting more and more diverse and the needs of my students vary greatly.

It is impossible for one person (me) to be an expert in all the areas I need to be an expert in to meet the needs of all my students. Thankfully, we're not alone. Collaboration is the most important part of my job and it truly takes a team of people (myself, other educators and parents) to provide the support needed for students, as well as for teachers, so all can be successful and positively impact the learning of all students.

11 comments:

April Washington said...

I totally agree that there should be some sort of class on teaching English Language Learners in Undergrad. At ASU we took a class about culture differences, but not much was dicussed about language. I'm not judging you for not speaking Spanish, you are a HIGHLY qualified teacher, and the fact that you realize that you don't know shows that you know more than you think, know what I mean?

April Woody said...

Blair,
I so agree with you that so many teachers have little or like me, no training in another language. I have have dual language students in the middle school setting and can't imagine having a middle school student that knew how to speak no language. I have not taken a foreign language since my
8th grade year and have 2 BS degrees and 2 different teaching license, but never been required to take another language. I feel that their should be more of an emphasis put on this in order to better oreoare teacher for our growing diverse world.

laylablue said...

Yes! something to prepare us for teaching ELL...
there might have been something offered at my college (from where I am about to graduate) (age34)
anyway, it was not somthing that would have fit into my schedule...nor was it required...blah blah blah..
our family's answer?
we will be purchasing Rosetta Stone materials, cdrom, etc so that we can learn spanish this summer...

laylablue said...

on a similar note,
i am currently tutoring 2 girls who were recently adopted from the ukraine (ages 9,11)
additionally i am tutoring 2 gr. 5 boys who really don't have an independent reading level :(
many times i find myself using the same strategies for all 4 kids...
certainly i try to tailor the activity to their personal interest or learning style, but i have this idea that i can approach them in a very similar manner.
do you have thoughts on this?

Megan Barker said...

"Are undergrad programs changing to meet the needs of the population of children in our classrooms today?" Great point! Are education programs like teachers who don't make the effort to change their lessons year to year? We have all these studies on emerging problems in literacy and teaching that teachers are expected to integrate into their classrooms, yet education programs don't seem to be preparing the teachers for these challenges. Of course, I never went through an education program, so I don't know, but I feel like successful college programs should be equipped to prepare their future teachers for the issues that will be facing them.

Maestro said...

Here in CA they make us go through some kind of training to deal with EL students. Not so much bilingual instruction as much as it is strategies that should work with students with language issues.

I'm sure you've heard of the SDAIE strategies, no?

Anonymous said...

I taught English as a second language for 4 years at NYU's American Language Institute. I took one English as a second/foreign language methods class at the Univ. of Michigan and it did prepare me, but not fully. I learned greatly from other teachers there who had ESL M.A. degrees. The point is that you don't need to speak Spanish to help a non-English speaking student. There should be some classes available at your colleges of education to get you going. Forget the cultural diversity gig. You need technical training and probably can get it this summer. Good Luck
Sue

kate said...

I just read your blog for the first time and as a requirement for one of my classes in graduate school, I am supposed to comment on an educational blog. Since I find your thoughts very similar to my own, I thought I would comment. :) It's always nice to know other people are out there! This can be an incredibly lonely profession, so thank you for putting it out there!

I also wanted to comment on this blog post, because I am facing a summer school situation in which I am teaching in a bilingual classroom and I even have to have a Spanish word wall in which I don't even know the site words! Often our undergraduate training has little to do with the variety of kids we see in the classroom and then we scramble to find the resources to help them! I just downloaded podcasts on Itunes to help me get a basic understanding of the language! Just in my short time teaching, I have seen a huge change in the students and standards required for the kids let alone the technology. Maybe all undergraduate training should be on differentiating for different types of learners??? I find myself constantly trying to change things around to meet those needs...you are right, it's impossible to be an expert in all areas. However, keeping an open mind and having these types of communication tools help tremendously!

It's nice to have blogs like this and free resources out there to share the information! Thank you and I look forward to reading your blog more!

Anonymous said...

You should have been taught this in a multicultural education class in college, think back...

hey2teacher said...

AMEN! I too struggle with teaching students that have a language barrier and who have severe learning problems. I teach at a pariochial school so we do not have the resources to help some of these severe learning disabled children. My heart aches because I am sometimes at a loss on what to do. I like your blog!

Anonymous said...

I believe you meant "affected" rather than "effected" in your original post. It's a bit sad for a teacher to mistake the two.