New student in Elementary classroom.

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New student in Elementary classroom.

Post by mgallen » Mon May 06, 2013 9:20 pm

When working in a typical elementary classroom, what are the best ways to help a novice level ESL student when they first come to your classroom?

Sally Olsen
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Post by Sally Olsen » Tue May 07, 2013 1:41 pm

Scary, isn't it? Do everything you would normally do for a new student.

You could ask for a volunteer to be with them in class and outside, or several and tutor the volunteers on how to be understanding and to teach the newcomer about school routines and facilities. It means examining your day carefully because the routines you are used to might not be what the student has experienced in a former school.

The volunteers could take pictures of everything that has to be done in school and write short sentences underneath with instructions. Fire Alarm, Fire Drill, Bathroom, Library and so on and tutor the student from the book.
You could also get them to make a tape so that the student could practice on their own or at home.

Encourage the volunteers to learn some words of the ESL student's language and get his/her parents to bring in objects or food that the others would enjoy.

You could ask for parent volunteers or community volunteers to work with the student one on one when doing class subjects. They can make a shorter version of what you are teaching with just basic words at first and then short sentences.

Arrange for a consultation with someone who speaks their language so the translator can ask them questions and tell them essential things. It could be once a week once they are established.

If they are very young, try to make sure they learn to read in their own language first as learning to read will be much easier than in English. If they already read, try to get the same content of your class lesson in a book in their language or from the Internet. Encourage your school library and the local library to stock books in the student's language.

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Post by bceproducts » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:23 pm

Hi there,
Sally does a great job of giving a super comprehensive list for helping new ESL students. I'd only add to her list to set the student up for 30 min to an hour daily w earphones to listen to simple, easy reader books on tape where the student also has the book to follow along with the read aloud text they are listening to. If you don't have any books on tape, they are super easy to make w a computer, microphone and a willing native speaker student who is a fluent reader so they can read the book aloud into the mike.
Good luck!

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New student in elementary classroom

Post by KatrinaB88 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:32 am


I've always found that a shadow student is the best help. Although have to say that anytime this has happened in my classroom, all the existing students fell over themselves to be helpful. So get everyone in on helping is my advice.


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Syllabus for no English what so ever?

Post by rableather » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:44 pm

Hi, I wanted to jump in here because it relates closely to what I wanted to ask. I am a Primary School teacher in Scotland with 19 years experience. I took a TEFL course over the summer to see if it would help me gain some insight into teaching the increasing number of children who have come to these shores as a result of war in their own countries. To be perfectly honest, the TEFL Has been of very little help. I don't need to teach these children that a table is a noun, I need to teach these children that that thing over there is called a table. Frankly I am lost as to where to start. I need a syllabus which will help them speak English. I am firmly of the opinion a child won't be able to read a word ( not decode) they have no concept of. I also want to volunteer with children newly arrived and struggling at school so I would be buying any syllabus personally. Can anyone recommend something to suit my needs please?

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Post by Sally Olsen » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:40 pm

I have never found a book that is completely right for my students. Take pictures or let the students take pictures of everything in the classroom, hall, bathroom, gym etc. Have the students name them and drill the new student. Then add questions, small sentences, stories. People often want full sentences to get along with others - what is your name? Can I go to the loo? They never learn what we want them to in order but what is important.
The main thing is to make them feel safe and wanted and after awhile they will need to tell their stories. You might need professional help for that and since there are probably many new students in your school ask for a workshop on what to do and for how often and how long. The professional should also advise on what to tell the other children and if the students should tell their full story to others or when. Art is great for that when they don't have the words. I used to have an envelope for each student and they would put in a note to me and I would answer. You don't have to do it every day and it can be a drawing or a card or a sticker. You can answer quickly or with a reference or with a personal talk. Try out your luck with their language or put in a picture. An iPad is wonderful for communicating as you can get translation and can take as many pictures as you want.

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Post by YellowMoon » Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:54 pm

I also agree that books don't play a key part at this stage. Having fun at communicating is the key for me. They don't need to know that the word "table" is a noun, but they have to play a game in which they have to pronounce the word "table" many times.

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