Warning: This article may contain use of satire.
We all know teaching English language learners is tough. But here are 10 indispensable tips to ensure your ELLs speak raht fine ’Murican lickety split.
As you incorporate these tips in your classroom, just make sure you remember to speak slooooooowly and LOUDLY. ’Cause that always helps.
1. Talk longer. Uninterrupted, 90-minute blocks are best. We all know that the more language we speak at our ELLs, the more chances they have to “catch it.”
2. Don’t bother connecting to students’ background knowledge. Obviously, if they can’t say something, they lack substantial knowledge about it. Older learners especially have survived their youth in a vacuum and under a rock, and any content they may have picked up by accident is utterly incomparable to the Common Core State Standards.If the community thinks all ELLs speak Spanish, then it must be so.
3. Eschew all regard for cultural norms. Unless they are American ones.
4. Disregard wait time for responses. We Americans thrive on immediacy, and by George, we’re going to train our students to be just like our politicians, spouting off early and often. (Besides, tomorrow there will be a test, and who has time to wait? We’ve got a pretest to practice before the test!)
5. Test them incessantly. If your ELLs struggle in class, kick up some pressure. It’s obvious those tears of frustration aren’t f’reals. Make sure students get the extended time accommodation too, because staring at the test longer works mental magic.
6. Speaking of testing, test them from day one so you can quantify and data-fy how much they “don’t know.” We’re looking for deficits, not assets, people! Far be it for students to get uppity because of their foreign education. Knowledge is power. The less they think they have, the more control we maintain.
7. When in doubt, give worksheets. Noninteraction is nonthreatening. Have students sit in a corner in isolation, too. They’ll need that deeper concentration to devise 50 ways to say, “What the —-?”
8. You have to speak Spanish fluently to teach ESOL. Fat lot of good it’ll be for the Hmongs, Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Russians, Czechs, and students of other ethnicities in your class, but … oh well. If the community thinks all ELLs speak Spanish, then it must be so.
9. Use your ESOL time to play tutor. It’s far more critical that ELLs distinguish among waxing, waning, and gibbous moons than it is to conjugate verbs, write good sentences, read critically, fill out applications, or learn how to ask to go to the bathroom. Life skills, shmife skills.
10. Don’t waste seat space by placing them in a tested content area the first year. ’Cause by now, you know if they can’t “say” it in English, they certainly won’t be able to read about it, think critically about it, or write anything. The tongue is directly connected to the stupid factor.
Now, for a quick, differentiated review: Do you understand? Do you u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d? Do you UNDERSTAND?