I was unable to find an introductory curriculum which presents Christianity to English language learners. (Many teachers and administrators that I have talked to have told me the same thing. ) I decided to go ahead and write one. Running a class designed specifically for the students’ language needs and content area needs has made a world of difference. I designed a program for our school that runs as a two-year format: The first-year international students will take an Introduction to Christianity class and the second year they take Introduction to World Religions.
In addition to language and content area help, this class provides the students a safe place to ask questions, make comments and even present arguments without feeling embarrassed by the presence of seasoned Bible students. Once they finish this two-year program, they are ready to join the mainstream classes.
If you’re interested in my curriculum, you can find an Introduction to Christianity on my website here and on Teachers Pay Teachers. It is a 5-unit course. Each unit is self-contained which means you do not have to do them in order and can choose whichever unit within the course that works for your class.
I am very interested in what your schools are doing for Bible class for your international students. Please share your stories in the comments below!
L.A. for ELLs can address two areas: writing and literature. The rules we have in our country for academic writing are often very different in comparison to my students’ countries of origin. Issues of paragraph formation, formatting and plagiarism can be major hurdles for our international student to overcome. A class designed to address this from their point of view is an enormous boon.
In addition to academic writing skills, I use my L.A. for ELLs class to introduce my students to American literature at a reading level conducive to their English language proficiency. (Often, I use Great Illustrated Classics for the pieces of literature that contain an older form of English.)
I teach two years of L.A. for ELLs before I mainstream our international students (if they are on a four-year track.) This provides a strong foundation for them before they work alongside their American classmates. I am very interested to know what you do at your school. Please describe the academic track for your international students in the comments below!
The needs of international learners must be addressed.
This is a big topic and will need more than one blog post to address the issues surrounding an international student program in a private high school setting, but let me get started!
Our international students have academic, social, physical and emotional needs that should be addressed by the organization assisting their time in the U.S.A. That may be an international-study company and the school working together or it may be the school alone.
Some schools partner with organizations that work with the student, family and host family to meet the physical and emotional needs of the student. The school then has the responsibility to address the academic and social life of the student. I’m going to address that scenario briefly in this blog and more extensively in the next two.
One of the main reasons a student comes to the U.S.A. to study in high school is, of course, to improve their English. That being the case, an EFL class is a necessity. English as a Foreign Language will provide the required foreign-language credit required of a student. (I would not recommend placing a Chinese student in a Spanish, French, German, etc. class unless their English is at an advanced level.) This class will provide the support an English language learner needs not only through content instruction, but also through creating an environment in which the student is surrounded by other ELLs. The need for direct instruction, scaffolded lessons, and socially-safe conversational practice is addressed in an EFL class.
I would love to know what kind of curriculum your school uses for your EFL classes and your experiences. Please comment below!
A grammar lesson full of interest, energy and laughter is a joy to a teacher's heart.
You might be teaching about dependent and independent clauses/complex vs. compound sentences…whatever, but sentence #2 will definitely grab the attention of the students.
Sentence #2 could easily turn into an entire series of practice sentences (While Susan was reading her texts, Ralph came and sat next to her. Susan, ignoring Ralph, continued to look at her phone. Taking a deep breath, Ralph opened his mouth to say hello.) Trust me, they will remember Ralph and Susan all year.
Another way to increase interest is to use the students’ names in your sentences of romantic relationships. I created a scenario in which we used sentences about one of my students falling in love and marrying a girl named Betty. We used the Betty story line all year.
The following year students continued the Betty-drama on their own. I couldn’t get them to stop-Betty kept popping up in the sentences my students wrote! I was thrilled! A grammar lesson full of interest, energy and laughter is a joy to a teacher’s heart.
A side note: Violence is also a way to add interest. I don’t condone violence normally, but we’re talking about Looney Tunes-type violence. Inevitably, if my students are writing complex sentences about my student and Betty, Betty will push my student off a mountain. Usually we can “resurrect” my student in another sentence and all is well until he runs over Betty with a garbage truck. I think you get the idea.
My advice: Skip the examples in the books and worksheets and make your own. Give the students a prompt and see what happens. The intrigue of love is guaranteed to alter the interest level your students have in reading, writing, listening and speaking in the target language.
Today I’m providing a tool: the Blends Foldable Bookmark
You can download and customize this book mark for free. The link is provided at the bottom of the page or in the box above.
During a guided reading time, create a blends list. If you create the list with students as you read (rather than prepare the lists ahead of time,) they begin to notice words on their own.
First, as you are reading, point out words to add to a blend list (don’t do too many lists at one time as this can make reading cumbersome and students lose the overall meaning of the text in their search for blends.)
Then, continue pointing out words as the reading continues until they start noticing them independently. It’s a good idea not to interrupt reading in the middle of a sentence. Allow the reader to finish a paragraph or page before stopping to point out blend-words.
The Blends Foldable Bookmark can be kept in the reading book for students to review and practice. After a book is complete, have the students attach their book mark to an interactive journal or take a picture and add it to an electronic notebook.
Of course, not all students exhibit these behaviors, however, keep them in mind. Talk with the student’s friends, host families and even other teachers to help them understand what this transition may look like in an international student.
A few weeks ago, I posted a description of a normal day in class. I promised a follow-up. After a few family emergencies that pushed my personal deadline way out of wack, I’m back to tell you how I pull a crazy class back together.
A little flashback to my previous post:
Working with international kids means that a lot of my time is spent fielding questions about day-to-day life issues. A Q.& A. session with students can quickly eat up all my instruction time. I feel burdened to help these kids navigate their lives here in America. I want to answer their random questions, but I also want to teach content. So, how do I address the needs and questions of the students while also maintaining my educational goals? Here are a few methods I use:
These methods show the students that I am not ignoring their concerns, but I am still in control of my own classroom. Students know they will be heard and their questions will be answered, but I have a purpose and I have a job to love them through education and to prepare them for their future.
Let me paint a picture…
A classroom flooded with light from a huge, wall-length window. Not a single desk, only tables to encourage collaboration rather than isolation. And students looking at me with anticipation in their eyes, waiting for the kernels of wisdom I will bestow upon them.
Sigh. Nice dream.
I do have a big window and I do have a classroom full of tables (which I love,) but my students are less like appreciative apostles and more like hungry mosquitos. They come buzzing into the classroom full of questions, emergencies, and conundrums.
I’ve taught both American students and international students and they can all be high need. My heart goes out to the international students more so because I know how anxiety ridden life can be in a foreign country. You never quite feel like you know what’s happening or what’s about to happen. What if you misheard a teacher? What if some health record has expired? What if you have a toothache, but you don’t want to be a bother at your host home. What if you need to buy a plane ticket to travel half-way across the world, the rates are about to shoot up, and you don’t know the school calendar?
I believe strongly that English language learners of all nationalities need special help. They have a lot to negotiate in their daily life without the comfort of linguistic mastery. These students need someone at school that can answer questions about daily life. They need someone they trust. I love being that person, but it makes it very difficult to teach them dependent clauses, transitional phrases or the Great Gatsby.
So, back to the beginning. What is my classroom really like? A small group of Asian kids sitting around a table vying for my attention, answers, promises and resources. I’m trying to prepare them for academic success and they have practical needs with which they trust me. It feels like a constant stream of emergencies are pouring out of them at all times.
I feel strongly that half of my job is to serve as their guidance counselor, to help them learn to navigate the world of the American school system (some schools have the resources to employ both, but not mine.) These kids don’t have their parents with them. They have been sent to the other side of the world as young teenagers, and they need someone to help.
The question then arises: How can I teach them academic content? It is possible to corral the conundrums of the students, help them find solutions to problems AND make it through my lesson plan.
In my next post, I’ll give you some tips and tools that I use to make that happen.
A lifetime ago I taught preschool. Half a lifetime ago I taught in elementary, and I’ve also taught middle school. I’ve worked with English speaking high schoolers and now I’m working with English learning high schoolers. All of them respond to this classroom management technique every time I do it.
That’s it! There’s a few spins you can throw, but it’s never complicated. Here’s how and when I use it.
When I want a class (again, ANY age ANY language) to quiet down, I’ll hold up three fingers and count down out loud.
When I want a class to get out materials, hand in papers, or any other short transition, I count down from 10.
When I give students a slightly more complicated task (for example, getting into small groups,) I’ll count down from 30.
I even count down when a student says they must absolutely or-they’re-going-to-die go to the bathroom. I’ll tell them they have 60 seconds once they cross the threshold. It works!
You can add rewards or restrictions based on their success if you want (if they are ready by the time the countdown is complete, they earn a marble/bingo chip/penny OR if they aren’t ready they lose a …something.)
It may seem too easy, but it can quiet a class, create fast transitions, get students on task, even save your sanity when your subbing.
Stop talking, stop warning, stop thinking of creative programs to focus the attention of your students-it’s all wasting valuable teaching time! Count down and your done.
I was trying to teach a unit on directions. We were supposed to be learning location words, prepositions, learning to give and receive locations. My kids were NOT interested. This class loves to be together. They love to talk, joke, chat and tease. They love to get off topic, create drama and laugh. Have you every had one of those classes? I needed to be strategic in my lesson plan.
The first two days I gave it the direct approach: pull out your books, open to page blah blah blah… It was as exciting as it sounds. Disrespectfully (and yet a little understandably) they tuned me out. I knew what I had to do.
There are three keys to make a lesson grab the attention and imagination of a chatty class: add personalization, risk, and reward.
Here’s how it worked for us:
I wanted to teach them how to give and receive directions. The map in the book held no interest to them so we made our own map.
1. Personalization: I gave each of the students their own house which we added to our “town.” All the kids were given jobs and places of employment which we also added to the picture. Their attention level shot up. Now we have a shoe store, a gas station, a bank, and a department store. I asked them to name their businesses. Now the lesson was becoming personal.
2. Risk: I told them that someone was going to make more money…Soon they were asking for more vocabulary words so they could navigate the map, throw up road construction to sabotage each other’s businesses, make more money, build larger houses, and take over the town. Now there was risk.
3. Reward: They student with the most money or biggest house or the last man standing, won. Each lesson might have a different reward. It isn’t necessary to have an actual, physical prize. There’s nothing like the thrill of the win to encourage learning. Now we have reward.
Students learn best what is relevant. Making a lesson personal, risky and rewarding will create intrinsic motivation and they might even forget they’re learning! Use your imagination.
I would love to hear your experiences. How have you adjusted a lesson to make it personal to your students?