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Multilevel classroom...One teacher!

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Multilevel classroom...One teacher!

Unread postby greed1163 » Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:25 pm

I teach in an inner city public school. I'm teaching beginning level ESL high school students. I have 32 students and their academic levels run from pre-literate to fully literate in their home language. reaching all levels of students with meaningful engaging lessons has proved to be nearly impossible. The students that are proficient in their first language resist pairing up with the weaker students as they are eager to move ahead. The slower students (pre-lits) often get lost and frustrated because they need more one-on-one help and I can't alays give it to them. So, in effect, the class has become polarized and difficult to teach. Discipline is not an issue but reaching everyone is. Any personal experience with this matter would be appreciated.
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multiple levels in the same classroom...

Unread postby eric_p_m » Sat Dec 02, 2006 2:15 am

Dear Garrett,

First of all, your class size is more than optimal for language learning. Talk to your school administrators there to see if it is possible to reduce your class size.

While I was teaching in China, I taught a great deal of classes with between forty to sixty students. One class that stands out in my mind was with about thirty students: one student could not produce even one sentence in English while on the opposite end of the spectrum, another student was completely bilingual, accustomed to learning in the target language. Is your school grouping students according to their age or to their ability levels?

I recommend that you break your students into groups according to their language proficiency in the target language. This way, their existing knowledge of their native language should not play such a great deal. Arrange your physical classroom to reflect this methodology.

Have your students manufacture, produce, and create in the target language, giving open-ended instructions in the target language and assess their skills accordingly. This will initially create more pressure on you while planning, but overall, will lighten your course load. I advise you to create your classes in such a way so as to be able to shuffle mini-lessons among ability groups.

Several years ago, I was teaching Spanish in Mexico and in the school I found myself in, there were many ability levels in each class. By using this methodology, when a student is ready to progress to the next level, he or she is not hindered by his or her peers.

A clever metaphor might be a snowflake. Individual snowflake's compositions are unique, not unlike your students, and each flake could represent an ability level group in addition to your curriculum's structure. Do your students know what snow is or would they enjoy engaging in winter sports?

Since your students apparently already respect you, you shouldn't have trouble implementing new methods or strategies into your classroom.

Utilize the students with higher abilities to help you assess or train the students with lower proficiency levels. Seems that you are already doing this though... just trick them into learning. 8)


Sincerely,

Eric Paul Monroe

http://www.eric-tesol.com/
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Unread postby greed1163 » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:12 pm

Thanks for taking the time to give me the feedback. I don't know if I can use the system you were suggesting. Breaking the class up into ability groups is something I tried last year. It worked for a while but eventually created an "us vs. them" atmosphere.
THe bottom line is that the administration needs to create a native language literacy class for the pre-literate kids. They're just not going to be able to learn the write and read English unitil they can do it in thier own language first.
I don't think they're going to go for it but will push as hard as I can. (politics and testing are the problems)
Did you ever run into students that were illiterate in you Cinese schools? If so, how did you deal with it?
thanks,
garrett
greed1163
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multiple levels in the same classroom...

Unread postby eric_p_m » Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:58 pm

Dear Garrett,

You are welcome. Generally, I do not condone discrimination in any form, but as a teacher, language proficiency levels are of the utmost importance. The beauty of open-ended questions is that you can meet the needs of all of your students, regardless of their ability level in the target language.

Holistic assessments are a critical evaluation tool. I think that given your geographic location, your students should be polychronic in nature, which should lend towards promoting multi-tasking. Back when I was in the university, I learned that foreign language teachers should utilize the concept of ( n+1 ) while teaching language in order to allow for cognitive and linguistic growth.

Are your students at the same level in the target language? Seems to me that half of your class is handicapped when it comes to both receptive and productive language skills. The polarization that you mentioned before will only tend to worsen in the future, given this linguistic disability.

When I first found myself in China, I couldn't speak and much less write anything in Mandarin. I was completely illiterate in my new environment, which was a rather new concept to me even after having traveled extensively abroad beforehand. There, I had classes geared toward conversation and other classes that took writing into account. I could excel in the conversation classes amongst my peers, but I was no match for Korean and especially Japanese students when it came to learning Chinese characters.

A few years later, I could defend myself linguistically in the host nation and rarely, I would encounter a student having trouble writing a Chinese character. Since I did not allow my students to know that I had knowledge of their native language or dialect, I would always ask my students if any given character was correct or not: peer pressure is an incredible tool for you to take advantage of in your classroom.

What are you supposed to be teaching in class? Are you just teaching knowledge about a given content area or is your class focused on literacy skills? If you only need to ensure that they retain knowledge about a given subject, then the assessment tools you utilize are up to you.

Maybe your school should create a new primer class for your students to make sure they are ready to take on all the linguistic demands of your course. I encountered this type of class first while teaching Spanish in Mexico. I would think that your school would be wise to follow in their footsteps.


Sincerely,

Eric Paul Monroe

http://www.eric-tesol.com/
eric_p_m
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Unread postby greed1163 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:07 pm

Eric,
What is polychronic?
thanks,
garrett
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Unread postby greed1163 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:07 pm

Eric,
What is "polychronic"?
thanks,
garrett
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:11 pm
Location: Hawaii

dictionary...

Unread postby eric_p_m » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:44 pm

Dear Garrett,

"Polychronic" comes from the Greek morphemes for "many" and "time" while "-ic", as you should well know is an adjectival suffix. This terminology is used when talking about cultures and its opposite meaning is "monochronic", "mono" of course meaning "one".

Polychronism is just that people in a given culture are able to do many tasks at once instead of only one task at a time. US culture is primarily monochronic in nature while Latin American and Asian cultures are generally polychronic in nature.

For more terms utilized for cultural terminology, just click on "Culture" in my on-line school.


Sincerely,

Eric Paul Monroe

http://www.eric-tesol.com/
eric_p_m
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Posts: 109
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:10 pm
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