ESL Math

So this past Friday I had to observe more classes so I’ll have 25 hours by the end of the semester. I finally got to observe an ESL class, and it was not what I expected at all.

First I saw a class that was supposed to be mixed ESL and IEP kids (kids with learning disabilities), but it was just the IEP kids because the ESL kids were at some activity thing. The IEP kids were way more motivated to learn about stuff than the mainstream kids I had observed in weeks prior. When they found out I was a college student they were asking me what college was like, if I dormed and how long they would need to go to college to do various types of professions. They had TONS of questions about everything. They also wanted to know if a tsunami could happen here and they were hanging on my every word when I was explaining how tsunamis happen and why tsunamis and earthquakes can happen together. Then I started talking to them about Pangaea and how India is a sub continent and they thought it was cool. They said I should teach social studies.. then I told them this was Earth Science, not social studies and that I learned almost none of what I told them in school. I learned most of it from watching Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Thirteen.

Now I’m left wondering why the IEP kids are more motivated to learn than the mainstream kids… I honestly have no idea.

The next class I got to see was an ESL math class. Most of the kids were from South American and Arab/Middle Eastern countries.  These kids were also very motivated to learn. 95% of the class would raise their hands when the teacher asked a question. And many of them were very polite and respectful to me. When the teacher gave them work to do, they all did it and worked together. Many of them worked with other kids that spoke their language, but there were children that spoke different languages working together in English.

When I went around helping the kids I could easily see which ones were new and which ones had been here for a while. All of the lessons are in English, but the teacher makes sure to always give them vocabulary, visual examples and structured ways of doing things so it’s easier for them. In fact a lot of what she did would make learning for *everyone* easier in a mainstream classroom. I have no idea how anyone could teach math without first giving the class vocabulary. I think if more students knew the definition of “variable” and if that definition was stressed more often, they’d more easily understand basic algebraic concepts.

Also, since it was a seventh grade class many of them still looked very young. And their accents were adorable!

Next week I’m observing a math class that’s a mix of IEP and mainstream kids.


In other news I filled out my student teaching forms. I am so excited for next year!!!!!


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I once watched a documentary about how students from other countries viewed education completely differently from the US. Mostly, it was about Indian college students. They work so much harder than we do, and take it very seriously – whereas the American college students were depicted to be lazy and preferred to party all the time. It’s kind of sad that we as a country are given so many opportunities that others would kill for, and basically are ingrateful for it.

    I think it applies the same way to kids with learning disabilities. Since they feel like they’re not as privileged, they end up becoming more passionate about learning. I’m no sociologist, though. 😛 But from international students I’ve met on my campus, they have the same mindset.

    Observing these classes sound like so much fun! When I imagine myself with children, I don’t think I’d have the patience to explain things because I’d assume they’d be rowdy and uncooperative. But the kids you work with sound really nice. 🙂

    • 2

      improperintegirl said,

      I think part of that has to do with colleges being so plentiful in America. My high school physics teacher was from India, he said that when you applied to school over there, there were 500+ people applying for every available seat. If we had the same situation in America I think our college students would be more hard working.

      And not all learning disability kids are poor, my little sister has an IEP. What I saw with her is that she was smart enough to do well in math, she just wasn’t motivated and would get frustrated and impatient that it would take her so long to get things. Then this year she just got motivated and started studying with friends.. her average jumped 30+ points. But I do think that some kids who haven’t had many opportunities are more appreciative when opportunities come their way, so long as they have a supportive family and friends.

      I also forgot to add that the kids were pretty chatty, (its bound to happen in a class that large), but they were still very polite. And if you can get kids interested in what you’re explaining to them, they’ll be better behaved… but if that fails you have to have zero tolerance for rowdiness and project that energy.

      • 3

        Whoops. I didn’t mean to use the word “privileged” to mean poor. I meant it in the way that they get put into a class that’s tailored for their needs, and probably makes them feel like they need to work even harder to be on the same “level” as the average student. I remember when I was in middle school, and I was friends with this one girl who I didn’t even know was in special education until graduation. So many people lump kids with learning disabilities into this stereotype that implies “dumb” – totally not true.

        I’m glad that you’re handling them well, but are still willing to be firm if ever they get out of hand. I don’t think I could ever raise my voice with or discipline children – I’d just end up feeling guilty afterwards. XD

        Btw, I just realized that I never answered your question about the Dropkick Murphys! My school is still trying to get them to perform on our campus, so it’s still not set in stone if they are. If it ever gets approved, they’ll most likely be coming on a late afternoon at the end of April. I’ll let you know, though! 🙂

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