Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hands-on Vocabulary

Since starting my new position as a K-4 ESL teacher, I haven't really blogged any great stories about my students.  Which makes me sad, because there are many. As a classroom teacher, I always enjoyed my ESL students. There is something to be said for those little boys and girls who enter our schools trying to learn curriculum and another language. I always admired how brave they were.  This year, I get to spend my days working with small groups of students who speak another language. It has been such an eye opener. For instance, I have one student who would only speak Spanish to me in the beginning of the year. This was challenging because I don't speak Spanish!  However, this little 5 year old quickly learned how to communicate with me, his peers, and his other teachers!  

Quick side story about this student.....
I am giving my kindergarten group a standardized test (don't judge...it's required by the grant our school district was given). Instead of the questions being numbered, they have a picture. For instance, instead of saying "place your finger on number one," I would say "place your finger on the little cat". This quickly became very comical!  When I would say, "place your finger on the little cat," the kindergarten student would start to meow.  When I would say, "place your finger on the little duck," the kindergarten student would start to quack. When I would say, "place your finger on the little bunny," there was a pause....what does a bunny say?  The kindergarten student simply said bunny, bunny.  He makes me smile! 

A big part of teaching ESL is the vocabulary piece. I am always looking for ways to give my students hands on experiences to learn new vocabulary. Last month, I was teaching my beginner kindergarten students about kitchen tools.  I came up with an easy, inexpensive way to teach this vocabulary. Use paper plates, bowls, plastic spoon, fork, napkin, and cup and have an imaginary meal!  Students need to ask each other to pass the condiments, say please and thank you, and set the table. All of the paper and plastic products were then glued to a piece of construction paper. The labeled 3-D diagrams were then hung in the hallway!  At the end of the unit, these place mats were sent home with students. Families could then use them to reinforce the concepts. Simple but effective!