Thursday, March 10, 2022

What to Do When They are New: Where to Begin with ESL Newcomers

Hello teachers ~

We have all had an English newcomer student for the first time at some point, and we have all wondered what to do with them. If that's you this year, this series is for you. Each post will provide different tips to help you feel confident about teaching newcomer students. Even if you aren't new to ESL newcomer teaching, follow along. You may learn some useful tips! Read on to learn where to begin. πŸ‘€

You just found out that an English newcomer - English learner (EL) is being placed in your class. Maybe you’ve taught other English learners before, but this feels…different…scary. You have no idea where to start or what to do. 😟

If you’re feeling this way, follow along with this series to find out what to do when they are new!

The most important thing you need to do is:

Make your newcomer student feel welcomed and supported! This is probably a scary time for them. Maybe they are new to the country. Maybe they have been to school, but never a school where English is spoken. Or maybe they have never been to school at all. You help set the tone for their school experience by showing them positivity, kindness, and support.

Know they may have a range of emotions:

Newcomer students may have an array of feelings as they become acclimated to their new environment. This is a normal part of the acculturation process. The emotions students may feel include:

        πŸ’§ Euphoria: Students may be curious and excited about their new culture. 😁    

        πŸ’§Culture shock: Students may experience grief, anger, homesickness, and resentment. 😨

These reactions are normal as students adjust to their new lives in the United States. Help your newcomer students by showing them that you are there for them as they process the many different changes in their lives. 

Dig into their background info:

Just as we should try to learn basic information about all of our students, it’s important to learn about our newcomer students and where they come from. Look at students’ cumulative folders to find some of this information:

        πŸ’§Where was the student born?

        πŸ’§What language(s) do they speak?

        πŸ’§Did they go to school in their country?

        πŸ’§Can they read and write in their language?

        πŸ’§Is this their first United States school?

        πŸ’§How do you pronounce their name?

Getting the answers to these questions helps you be more aware of your students’ cultures and backgrounds which helps inform your instructions. Acknowledging students’ backgrounds can help them feel connected to you and show them that you care. 

Determine their English language level:

Now that you know all of the basic information about your student, you need to know how much English they know. Some students know and understand a few words and phrases, while others may just be starting on their English language learning journey. Talk with your school’s English Language (EL, ESL, ELD, etc.) teacher. Your English Language teacher should already have or be working to acquire English placement test scores. Depending on your state, the entrance test that students take may be different. Your school’s EL teacher will know what program is followed for your state.

You can use these test scores to know what language domains students need the most support with. The four language domains are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Some students may need support in all four areas equally, and that’s okay! Knowing how your students scored gives you an idea of what students have already mastered and where you need to begin.

Once you have completed the steps above, stay tuned for my next blog post in the series which focuses on Language Support for ESL Newcomers.

Happy Teaching! πŸ’œ

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