A student in my 11th grade English class is from Ecuador. She is here for one year as part of an exchange program and her goal is to learn English so when she goes back to her native country, she will be able to get a job. She went on to explain to me about how in Ecuador, in the business world, you are not even looked at as a candidate if you do not know at least two languages. Through our conversation I learned a lot about the Ecuadorian school system and how the English language they are taught is more of a ‘British English’ than an ‘American English’. Also, there are no paper handouts. Students receive CDs for every class with all homework assignments and handouts to be completed at home and submitted online. This alleviates papers being misplaced, and students receive instant feedback. I thought this was quite creative; maybe I will use something similar in the future with certain units.
After school one day, she came to see me to go over a vocabulary quiz. We have discussed, in many of my TESOL classes, the benefits and detriments for ELLs (English Language Learners) to use dictionaries to translate words, and this debate presented itself when my student got many answers wrong on her vocabulary quiz because the English words she translated into Spanish to study, have more than one meaning. Therefore, she did not do well on the quiz. I showed her other methods to study the English vocabulary words, such as creating sentences with the words in both English and Spanish to see contextually how the word should be used. Unfortunately, she has not be assigned an ESL class to help her with learning English, so I meet with her after school to do some word work and help her achieve her goal. She is a bright, kind, and motivated student who just wants to better herself by going to college and obtaining a career in business and she should be given every chance to be able to do so. She even understands more material than native English speakers. So once again, what I have learned in TESOL classes holds true: as teachers we should not discount a student’s ability to comprehend material simply because she does not know English well.