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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mainstream Teachers Hurting ELL Progress


At Ancient Digger we talk about a multitude of subjects including but not limited to archaeology and anthropology. My goal, however, is to promote education via all subjects and within different social contexts. At the present I am not directly involved with archaeology, but high school TESOL students in the field of linguistics. I'm a jack of all social trades so to speak.

These days many schools are integrating the two teacher classroom approach where TESOL is concerned. Community colleges throughout Florida have brought in TESOL teachers and subject specific professors to work together in an environment that is non threatening to second language learners. This is not the case in the many secondary schools and high schools.

I wanted to voice a concern about mainstream teachers and how they are approaching L2s in their teaching methods here in Central Florida. I'm working with several students from China, France, Turkey, Mexico, and Japan and the issues I'm hearing about in certain classes are a matter of great concern.

One of my students who speaks Cantonese explained to me that during a math test his instructor informed him that could not clarify a term because he didn't have the time. Keep in mind that this is an AP Calculus class with students at the ELL Level 1-3 and also mainstream native students. Imagine a teacher telling a native speaker that he/she has no time to clarify a term, not a concept, but a vocabulary word.

In this scenario, the words presented in the test were never previously introduced in the ELL's language class, nor did the teacher expose the student to the term in the math class prior to the exam. The questions that thee student missed used this word three times in the test, and within a very lengthy word problem. Double the confusion!

My question is, if you are a mainstream teacher and you are aware that you have ELLs in your class, how do approach these language varieties and levels of L2 proficiency?

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