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Student Speech Comprehensibility

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Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:51 pm    Post subject: Student Speech Comprehensibility Reply with quote

I currently teach ESL in an Intermediate school (grades 6-8th). I have been working with a student for most of the school year who came to the country just a little over one year ago. She is from China and originally had no English receptive or expressive skills. At the beginning of the year, she English speaking skills rated at the Entering level based on the WIDA standards and on a Novice Low based on the speaking ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. She now lives in an environment where she hears and speaks English at home daily and has a regular school class schedule that all English-speaking students follow. Based on the end of the year assessment tests, and on my personal observations with her throughout the year, I can say that I believe she is now at an Intermediate-Low level. I try to encourage this student and I emphasize her progress, especially in her speaking ability. Unfortunately, I frequently see her in failed communication attempts with other teachers and peers. It is disheartening. I try to give her ample opportunities to practice English in meaningful context with her peers and other non-ESL professionals. However, the result is always the same. Even though she is speaking in English, I become her “interpreter” in the conversation if I am close to where the discussion is taking place!

I do not believe that I am inflating her speaking ability. However, her own ego is very fragile and I can see that, with each failed communication attempt, she is losing her desire to communicate with others. Any suggestions on what I can do? She is already getting daily English practice at home. However, her parents are also “accustomed” to her speech and do not have any difficulty understanding her.
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Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 14
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are there other ELLs at the school that she can pair up with? It sounds to me that she needs a friend base at school, which is vital for any student. Maybe when she meets new people, accompany her and just explain to the other students that she will have an accent because she is foreign. Another thing that might help is to help her with pronunciation when you have time with her and make her speech a bit easier to understand to the untrained ear. It's great that she can practice English at home and maybe her support base there can help guide her to having friends around the neighborhood that are her age and are patient to give her the constructive feedback she needs. Also, keep reassuring and encouraging her to practice and communicate outside of the classroom because she will learn that practice makes perfect.
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