Look at Me When I Talk to You EAL Learners in Non-EAL Classrooms By Sylvia Helmler / Cathrine Eddy
A book report by Melita Kelsey Image from www.amazon.com
Chapter 1 Setting the Stage Helmer &Eddy make the point that within each culture there are differences. As teachers we need to be aware that children from different cultures do not have the same background. Immigrants and refugees may go through a sort of culture shock. Emotions range from; excitement, feelings of disappointment or discouragement, acceptance, to settling in. EAL teachers know that students arent just in classrooms to learn English, but also about American culture. Teachers should also learn about the students' culture as well (p. 16-18).
Chapter 2 Awareness of Culture Cultural Observations
Greetings Helmar & Eddy reference a young man arriving at an airport. He was confused as he had learned to greet people in a Namaste posture. He saw people shaking hands, hugging and hugging and kissing (p. 26). Photos by Google Images
Being Aware of Your Own Culture in the United States L. Robert Kohls developed a chart for other cultures to understand American behaviors. The chart shows how an American would think and the corresponding response gathered from other cultures. An example would be in the United States they strive for fairness and equality. Other cultures think this is hierarchy, rank and status (Helmer & Eddy, p. 28).
(Helmer & Eddy p.30) Cultural Scenarios A student is frequently absent. His younger sibling is ill. Because his parents need to work, the student is taking care of the ill sibling. The teacher asks the EAL student to call her by her first name, but the EAL student continues to call her Teacher as does the parent.
EAL Learners Are Individuals
We are all apart of many cultural groups. More so than we realize. For example, I am apart of an extended family. I am also apart of my immediate family. 56 th Annual Noll Family Reunion Photo, Jade Kelsey (2014) Kelsey Family Photo John Alexander (2009)
Another example would be, I am a teacher. I am an elementary teacher. I work in an elementary school with other elementary teachers. Cardinal Valley Elementary School Photo n.d.
Chapter 3 Cultural Issues in the Classroom
For some cultures having a coed gym class would be unacceptable. Having to wear gym shorts and not being covered up would be an issue. Showering with others would also be a cultural issue. Helmer and Eddy explain in Chapter 3 that just because EAL children speak the same language, it doesnt mean you should pair them together. Issues such as mixed gender, their countries being at war, or being enemies, would make for an awkward situation.
Chapter 4 EAL Learners and Communication
There are some countries and cultures where coverbal communication is unacceptable (p. 45) Helmer & Eddy write that communication has many aspects. It is not just communicating through words. One of the ways we communicate is through coverbal communication. Coverbal communication is actively listening and comprehending. The listener is engaged, nodding and saying things like, Wow, really, thats great etc. Teachers use those coverbal signs as a way to tell if you are comprehending the material.
Other Forms of Communication Intonation is another form if coverbal communication or behavior. Asian words said in different tones mean very different things (Helmer& Eddy, p. 46). Gestures do not translate across languages. You can always ask someone what they mean when they are speaking. Asking what the eye roll meant or what the sudden release of air meant is very awkward.(Helmer& Eddy, p. 49)
In the United States avoiding eye contact is considered rude or not listening. In some other countries having frequent eye contact is rude. As a teacher of EALs, you do not need to know every gesture and meaning. It is important to be aware. Photo by Google Images
Chapter 5 EAL Learners and School
The rules of school and learning are different in each culture. Some cultures have more resources to put towards education. Strategies for teaching and learning may be using cooperative learning, working with a partner, whole group work, and small group work. It may not be acceptable to work with others as it may be seen as a loss of power, influence or privilege, or reflect a loss of competitive spirit (Helmer & Eddy, p. 61)
(Helmer& Eddy, p.62-63) Learning Styles Learning styles, also known as cognitive styles, vary from country to country. Teachers should be aware of the different styles, and which students benefit from each style. Where by providing the best educational opportunity for the student. Rote memory Observation Learn by doing Trial and error Direct Instruction Cooperative learning groups Whole group Small group Group Projects
Cultural Conflicts Students and families from various cultures will have different perceptions of things like - Time Value of First Language Values and Attitudes Homework Teachers will need to be aware of the different attitudes and values other cultures expect (Helman & Eddy, Ch5)
Chapter 6 Learning and Literacy for Special EAL Learners
Types of English Language learners Refugees Many refugees arrive in the United States with no formal schooling, or the class sizes were very large. Some were denied schooling because of social status, religious beliefs, gender, or because they were apart of a group their governments were persecuting. Some refugees are teens that family financial survival is their top priority (Helmer & Eddy, p.76) Teachers must be mindful of the refugee teen. Listening to their academic wants and needs, planning for their immediate future needs will help them be functionally literate (Helmer & Eddy, p.77)
Additional Learning Needs Students There are no terms for leaning disabilities in most other countries. Parents may not feel their child has a disability. Some children have not had consistent formal schooling, so they are behind. Children new to a country may experience culture shock. Teachers list ideas that children should come to school knowing. Some of which is; knowing to read/write from left to right and top to bottom, holding a pencil, taking turns, being on time etc. Teachers will document progress over time. Also other testing may take place to see if their might be hearing impared or have a language issue (Helmer & Eddy, p. 79-81).
Gifted and Talented Students While there are a few different definitions of gifted and talented, they all have some commonalities especially in the areas such as; intellectual, creativity, leadership, academic achievement. EAL students maybe difficult to assess. Teachers need to watch over time to see the giftedness show consistently (Helmer& Eddy, p. 83-85).
Chapter 7 Values and Beliefs
Assertive Compliance, Dominance Submission, and Disclosure Privacy Assertive compliance is about groups of people on a continuum. Those that have and those that do not have. Most of us fit in the middle. The point being that the those of us who are toward the middle and up the continuum ignore or have no empathy for those on the lower part of the continuum. Standing up for oneself in spite of others who cannot and do not. Dominance Submission is about the female being submissive in the home, and in school. Males have the dominant role. This affects personal choices, attendance, and class participation. Disclosure-Privacy is about taboo subjects such as religion, politics and sex. These subjects are too private for discussion. (Helmer & Eddy, p. 92-100)
Direct Communication Indirect Communication, and Flex Time-Time as a Commodity Direct Communication Indirect communication is about how people in the United States are a hurry up society. We have been stereotyped as a culture that asks how you are, but doesnt really care how you are. We say it in passing. Other cultures think this is inappropriate and rude. The Three Cups of Tea is a nice story about the use of time. Each cup represents time, if you stay to the third cup you are considered family. The use of persuasion to not waste time is inappropriate. Some EAL children will become suspicious if the teacher used this in the classroom. Flex Time-Time as a Commodity is about time being important in English speaking countries. It tends to be used up or budged tightly. For other cultures, time is flexible and elusive. It may be gauged by traditions of religion, time of year, the position of the sun. In American culture, parents schedule their childrens time with all kinds of lessons. Other cultures think that just being is as, or more important that filling up all your time (Helmer & Eddy, p. 101-108).
Chapter 8 Putting it all Together
Where to Start? Realize that there will be students who have no experience with the English Language. EALs will probably not ask questions The teacher should lead by example Keep it simple, silly (kiss)
What Else can I do to Help EAL Students? 1. Talk slowly and clearly 2. Have your expectations written in their language 3. Give them extra time to think, and do assignments 4. Partner them carefully with students who speak their language 5. Be encouraging but not overly so 6. Give praise and marks for trying, not just for perfection 7. Use graphic organizers 8. Use planners 9. Teach content vocabulary instead of grammer (Helmer & Eddy, p.118-119) Photo by Google Images
In My Opinion The book, Look at Me When I Talk to You had a lot of useful information about teaching EAL students. There were many things I did not know, but as I read them made so much sense to me. I think that even before I read this book, I gave my EAL students time to get acclimated, talked slower, emphasized the concrete. I knew abstract things would not be understood. Whenever possible I would have someone who spoke the language translate for me. It is a great feeling when you can communicate with EAL students.
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