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Thursday, March 30, 2023

A Clinical Observation in an English For Speakers Of Other Languages (ESOL) Classroom

By Chantale JimenezMy clinical observation was done at Nova Blanche Forman Elementary in Mrs. Taylor’s third grade ESOL classroom. The students in the classroom were very all very dynamic, doing their best to learn and adjust to the American culture. There were many different strategies used to get students to work together and overcome their shyness in the classroom. Some students struggled with English more than others and students who were better in English were very helpful in helping others with their work. Mrs. Taylor used a variety of ESOL strategies, and her students were very patient, respectful, and helpful with one another.While observing in Mrs. Taylor’s third grade ESOL classroom I found that every student came from a different economical, cultural, and social background. Students come in all year round, so not every student was at the same level. Also, most students come in with a very low economic background. In this classroom there was not one student that was completely bilingual: some spoke English well, other spoke very little, and some spoke no English at all.For those students that do not speak any English at all, there is a grandmother that comes in and helps them with their English. Some students seem to adjust well and be comfortable in the classroom environment, and others seemed to still feel uncomfortable and awkward. One student from Ecuador shared with me that in her country the grading scale is out of twenty, not one hundred as it is here in America, which made me realize how big of an adjustment these students are forced to make. According to Mrs. Taylor, some children come well adjusted, which she believes starts in the home, and others do not say a word. As for stereotypes of students from different cultures she stated, “There is always an exception the rule”.Mrs. Taylor shared with me that two of her students, twins from Russia, have been here for a year and still seem scared. Neither of the twins will even look or at her or have said a word all year, and yet they both have straight A’s, are excellent students, and are learning English quickly. And though in America we interpret the twin’s lack of eye contact as shyness and them being scared, in Russia it may be a sign of respect to not make eye contact with the teacher. Even with me some students were outgoing and had no reservations about approaching me and others seem to be scared and intimated. Through my observation I had the chance to experience everything that I had read about throughout the semester.            A main strategy used in this ESOL class was mentoring. Students who spoke English relatively well were paired up with those who did not speak English at all and they helped these students to complete their work. Cooperative grouping or pair and share was another strategy used—students pair up in groups instead of one and one and are given the chance to brainstorm, come up with the answers together, and then share their answers with the class. Role-playing is also important in teaching ESOL students; it gives them a chance to express themselves on more than just a piece of paper. Also, by forcing students to expand their vocabulary it helps them to overcome their shyness. Students must also be able to express themselves creatively, and in Mrs. Taylor’s class students did a lot of drawing in order to express their emotions and show their abilities. Mrs. Taylor believes that it is imperative that students that cannot express themselves through words can do so through art. Therefore, she assigns a lot of projects. For example, while doing an in-class science project, students who could not write in English were allowed to draw illustrations in order to express themselves. Because many students could not read any English at all, Mrs. Taylor used many pictures, graphs, maps, and diagrams to teach her students.  All of these strategies were used to help the ESOL students to better understand and interpret everything that they were being taught in the classroom.            The class is without a doubt well run by Mrs. Taylor. However, to make the classroom more multicultural in nature, I would have had students to share more about the cultural they are from with each other, provide more nonverbal communication, and use more types of learning styles. I would have had students to share with each other information about their countries with one another, telling how it differs from culture in America.This sharing would also promote respect for one another’s culture and would help me as a teacher to better understand where the students are coming from. I also would do my best to learn about nonverbal cues used in other countries so that I could better understand my students’ nonverbal communication since some of them cannot speak any English whatsoever.Once I learn the nonverbal clues of my students, I would share them with the students so that they could better understand each other and get to know one another’s culture. The third thing that I would do to make the classroom more multicultural in nature is to provide all types of learning styles including visual, aural, and verbal ways of learning. By incorporating all types of learning styles into my teaching, I would be able to acknowledge the traditions of the culture of all of my students.My clinical observation in Mrs. Taylor’s third grade classroom allowed me to experience in person everything that I had been reading about for the entire semester. Mrs. Taylor incorporated many of the ESOL strategies I had read about and her students seem to be successfully learning English. In this classroom the students were all very diverse and helpful with one another. Patience and respect were key elements in the success in Mrs. Taylor’s third grade classroom.Chantale Jimenez heads a multicultural firm near Jacksonville, Florida. She is a contributor to CSMS Magazine

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