Number 1: Paper chains
Paper chains are easy and cheap. Here are two ways to use them.
For Correction: Start with a paper chain of 10 links (or however may you choose.) If a student is speaking in any other language than English during class, you remove one chain. This continues every day for a week. If there are any links left on the chain at the end of the week, the students earn 10 minutes of free time, a game of UNO (or any other incentive that works for your students.) This method works because of the positive peer pressure of earning a reward as a group.
For Positive Reinforcement: Start with 10 strips of paper. Every time the class makes it through a class speaking only English, you can add a link to the chain. Once you get to 10 links on the chain, the class earns 10 minutes of free time! Again, positive peer pressure makes this a powerful tool.
Number 2: R E S P E C T
Start with the word RESPECT, each letter written on a separate piece of paper. I use magnetic paper so I can stick them on my marker board. Explain to the class that speaking in English shows respect: respect to the other people in the room who cannot understand them, respect to the teacher and what s/he is trying to accomplish, and respect to their parents who have put them in this school in part in order to learn English.
For Correction: The entire word is attached to the board at the front of the room. Any time a student speaks in a language other than English, one letter is removed. This continues for an entire week. If there are any letters left, the students earn free time, game time, 10 minutes of funny Youtube videos...whatever floats their boat.
For Positive Reinforcement: Every time the class makes it through a class speaking only English, you can add a letter to the board. Once you get the entire word RESPECT on the board, the class earns 10 minutes of free time!
Kids are quick to pick up on the fact that they could speak in their native tongue until the end of the week being careful not to exceed the limit. In order to keep this from happening, I have added the following rule:
If there is only 1 chain left or letter left (whichever method I am using at the time,) they earn 5 minutes of free time, but if they have more than 1 left their prize is doubled.
Even better than free time...I have found the best incentive is my prize jar. In my jar there are an equal number of "great prizes" and duds. I have 24 slips of paper folded in a jar. 12 have a variety of prizes (free time, game time, homework pass, etc.) the other 12 have the words "tough luck" written on them. If the class has the entire word RESPECT on the board they can draw from the jar 2 times on Friday. If they have only one letter left, they can draw 1 time. If they have no letters, they get no draws. The more opportunities they have to draw a prize, the higher their chances of getting something good!
1. WHO'S IT FOR?
Chapel speakers direct their messages almost entirely to the students in the room who are very familiar with the Bible and Christianity. Our international students are just learning how to navigate a Bible. Their Bible knowledge is almost non-existent, so understanding a sermon built on that kind of prior knowledge is impossible.
2. WHAT LANGUAGE IS THAT?
There is a whole Christian-lingo. People who aren't Christians or haven't been a Christian for very long easily get lost with the catch phrases used in sermons. When my international students hear someone talking about being "on fire," "washed in the Savior's blood," and hearing the Spirit "talk" to me, at best they are confused and at worst they are FREAKED OUT!
3. SPEED OF LIGHT SPEAKING
In order to keep the attention of a group of high school students on a Thursday morning most chapel speakers are fast talkers. They are up-beat, energetic and fun, but that speed of speech makes it challenging for English language learners to keep up.
4. WHY IS EVERYONE LAUGHING?
Chapel speakers also keep teens engaged by using humor and slang. It requires significant language acquisition to keep up with a speed-talking-joke telling chapel speaker! Our international students give up pretty quickly.
What do we do?
Every time we have chapel (well, ok, almost every time) I spend some time deconstructing the experience with my international students. Here are few questions I try to cover:
I'm going to give this a try...I hope its not annoying.
I'm trying out Boost Insider this week. I've been researching a lot of ways to make a little money on a blog page and this seems like a good option. Instead of taking any ad a company generates, with Boost Insider I am able to choose the ads I am interested in personally or something my readers might find useful. I'll keep you posted and let you know how it goes or you can give it a try and report back!
These are affiliate links to the bilingual Bibles I have used in my classroom. I have found that Korean and Vietnamese bilingual Bibles are much more difficult to find or afford. I have instead purchased single-language Bibles in both languages or OT and NT editions. At this point I have found the best prices on Amazon.
I love the close relationships I have with my international students. I purposefully created an environment in which they felt safe, could ask vulnerable questions and occasionally freak out. For the last two days, however, those freak-outs have completely circumvented my teaching.
I have one student who is being bullied by other students from her native country, I have another student who is panicking about getting into an American university, another student thinks her host family is trying to make a buck off of her, another student who despises her host sister...it has come to the point that I dread hearing the desperate call of my students!
I'm a classic co-dependent and NOT helping everyone is torture, but helping everyone is bleeding me dry! I feel so unprofessional!
Our first international student was plugged into a mainstream Bible class designed for his grade level. It was a disaster. The kid had no idea which end was up. The teacher, who understandably, taught the class for the experience level of the majority and this left our international student in a daze.
By second semester we had a second international student and I began designing an introduction to Christianity specifically for E.L.L.s. They were so relieved. They could understand the content, ask questions without feeling stupid, and were in a "safe" environment with other non-Christian kids.
Our school has continued the class and added an introduction to world religions. The aim is to allow our international students 2 years of ELL Bible classes before we try plunking them into our mainstream classes (although one of my students asked if she could do Intro to Christianity a second time. For her it was a good choice.)
I had a beautiful EFL lesson plan ready to go: vocabulary, reading samples, practice activities, conversational practice...
Somehow, I can't explain how, there was a coup. They refused to do the lesson. All they wanted to do was learn how to write in cursive! It looks so much more beautiful than print, they all argued.
From a practical standpoint, I believe there is a lot of value in teaching ELLs cursive. Many teachers still write in cursive, or a half-breed of cursive and print. This can be almost impossible for my students to read. (All caps is also a great challenge.)
So I threw out the lesson for the day and we learned cursive. (A moment of silence, please, for the death of my beautiful lesson plan.)
My first day as an online blogger!
I have been teaching foreign language for 12 years. In the last three I have developed and International Student Program at my private school in St. Petersburg, FL.
I hope to share my day to day experiences and connect with some of you out there.