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Re: [teacherartexchange] frustration -- ESL student


From: Rebecca Burch (mamallama_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Sep 01 2007 - 00:16:24 PDT

That's awesome, Sharon. I love that assignment. I think I will try it, too.

Yes, I do have tremendous respect for these kids, too. The little
girl in my class is part of a missionary program that helps to educate
children in Guatemala and send them back there to try to better the
economic opportunities in that country. So she's staying with a host
family who she doesn't even know... that has to be scary! She's only
in the 9th grade, and has only started learning English over the
summer. Bless her heart, she is as sweet as can be, but the language
barrier is really killing me.

I think I am going to start asking the parent volunteer group if
anyone could volunteer to be a translator, at least until the two of
us start learning words and ways to communicate art concepts.
Meanwhile, I"m taking a crash course in Spanish.

Thanks for the advice!

On 8/31/07, Sharon <> wrote:
> I teach at a very small private boarding/day school (150 students) with a
> very large international student population. We do have an ESL program, but
> today was just the 2nd day of class for us so these kids have a long way to
> go yet.
> As is typical, there's a lot of fluctuation in my rosters the first week or
> so. This is my 9th year at the school, so I'm pretty good at just rolling
> with the craziness until everything gets balanced out. I ultimately
> average 8-10 students per period and each period usually has a mix of kids
> in grades 8-12 and mixed levels (with different projects/curricula!) of Art
> 1, Art 2, Advanced Art, Honors Art and Graphic Design. (Nutso, at least
> initially!)
> Yesterday in one (currently very small) class of 5 students, I had FIVE
> NATIONALITIES represented, and varying degrees of English competency!! My
> biggest challenge is going to be figuring out how to pronounce their names!
> I have such "American" ears... It's very hard for me to "hear" how to make
> some of the sounds in their names.
> I knew that today's exercise was going to be a challenge for some of the
> kids, but I went ahead with it anyhow. From "memory," I had them draw a
> piece of popcorn, a pretzel and a circle. They then had to make the circle
> into an M&M candy. Well of course even if some of the international kids
> knew what popcorn was, they didn't know the English WORD for "popcorn"--or
> pretzel, so they had no idea what I was asking them to draw. To my
> surprise, several DID know what M&Ms were--lol. But after drawing from
> memory, I GAVE all of them popcorn, pretzels & M&Ms and had them make an
> arrangement of at least one of each and draw from observation.
> The point I was trying to make with this exercise is that your mind is
> pretty good about storing images, but it's easier/better to draw from
> observation. (In a couple of weeks I'll go into this in more depth with
> right brain/left brain function and how these stored images can interfere
> with your ability to draw well.)
> In retrospect, to make sure that everyone got the concept, I probably should
> have had them do something they were more likely to know in English (like
> draw a "shoe" from memory, your "hand" from memory, etc.) but all was
> forgiven once they had something to look at AND that they could eat when
> they were finished. :-)
> While it's often a challenge for international kids to grasp everything that
> the other students do, I have INCREDIBLE admiration for them. What courage
> it must take for them to leave their families, friends and familiar culture
> to travel halfway around the world in pursuit of a quality education. Most
> are willing to work very, very hard to succeed. They deserve the very best
> that I can give them and I love teaching in our small but very global school
> community. :-)
> *****************
> Sharon
> ---
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