Monday, January 31, 2011

Building Relationships And Learning Each Other S Language In Esl

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Sophia Arkoudis discusses that the call for collaboration between ESL and mainstream teachers assumes an equitable relationship between the two. She argues that this relationship is usually not equitable and the ESL teacher usually has low status in the school. If ESL students and teachers are marginalized, meaningful collaboration across the disciplines becomes difficult, if not impossible.

If ESL programs are under-resourced and hidden--for example, if ESL teachers don't have classrooms of their own--and are thought of as something separate from or an adjunct to the GHD MK4academic program, it is like, as Amanda describes, a dirty little secret that is ESL and secondary English teachers who have taken our co scheduled courses have identified time, relationships (teacher positioning), and understanding each others' disciplines as some of their greatest barriers to collaboration seldom acknowledged.

The way I (Amanda) have come to think of it is that the content teachers often view ESL teachers the way they would certain service providers--as somebody with specialized skills that I don't have and I'm not interested in having. You can get your hands dirty, thank you very much. This both marginalizes the ESL teachers and endows them with a level of specialization they might not actually possess.

Many of the English teachers we worked with at Lehman College during our collaborative semester reflected that they didn't know what the ESL teachers did, where they were located, and what the actual goals of the ESL program were. By doing something as simple as engaging in a discussion or observing a colleague's class, English and ESL teachers can gain a great deal of insight into each other's professional lives.

This teacher had the opportunity to observe an English class as a requirement for our collaborative methods courses. She wrote about her experience and became concerned about the type of writing she had been working on in her ESL classroom. She had been teaching the five-paragraph essay form, but her observation raised doubts about whether this was what her students needed.

The class she observed was working on a "Critical Lens" essay, something she didn't know about but that is a requirement on the New York State English standardized exam for secondary students. She was horrified that she had no idea that such a writing.

The first place where collaboration can occur is through simply sharing the upcoming material and information about the students’ assignment was required of her students and that she had been teaching a form of GHD Pretty In Pink writing that had limited application.

She has since obtained material from the English teacher she observed, as well as guidance on how the "Critical Lens" is taught, and she now works with her ESL students on selecting and interpreting quotes, connecting those quotes to works of literature, analyzing examples of the essay, and writing in a style that would lead to success on the exam.


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