Organizing Your Newcomer's Day
by Judie Haynes
What do you do when your new students does not speak English? Where do you begin? Read these tips to help you get your English language learners off to a good start.
Set up a language learning center
Select a corner of your room. Set up a small desk or table with several chairs. Find a large box, closet or a shelf to keep the equipment and materials for your new language learners. Label everything and organize it so that students, buddies, tutors, and volunteers can easily find what they need.
Students can work in this area, or they can carry materials back to their desk. A work schedule should be prominently displayed to guide the newcomers and their buddies in the work you want them to do. Draw pictures or write page numbers on the schedule to show what work you want done. This is especially helpful with second and third grade students. Students will feel more comfortable if they know what is expected of them and if their days have purpose.
Students should feel free to go to the language learning area to work on these activities when they cannot follow the work being done in the classroom. (There will be less distraction to the class if newcomers are not cutting and pasting in the middle of your lesson.)
Gather materials and supplies
Here are some of the items you may want to include in your language learning area. Don't put everything in at once. It's too confusing. The items you may want to include are:
- tape recorder and earphones
- computer with programs appropriate for newcomers.
- photocopies of activities for newcomers. Try my Newcomer Programs.Keep photocopies in a loose-leaf binder, a large envelope or a folder with pockets.
- crayons, scissors, pencil, eraser, paper
- commercial books-with-taped readings
- labels for classroom objects and places
- a picture file (class-made or commercial)
- well-illustrated magazines for cutting out pictures
- blank 3"x 5" index cards to be used for flash cards or concentration games
- a picture dictionary
- home-language magazines with lots of pictures
- home-language story and literature books at the appropriate reading level.
- non-fiction picture books from the library that cover the same science, health, and social studies materials you are currently teaching.
- texts that have been written especially for ESL students in the content areas. Choose books that are well illustrated and have controlled vocabulary.
- beginning phonics books with tapes
- taped music in both English and native language
- picture books and well-illustrated beginning- to- read books with tapes
- simple games: dot-to-dot activities, word searches, concentration games, sequencing activities, jigsaw puzzles
- an "object" box - a small box full of small manipulative objects for beginning vocabulary or phonics learning.
- flash cards such as alphabet or vocabulary/picture cards.
Make up individualized "Starter Packs"
Choose work that enables entry-level students to work independently. The directions for this work should not be too difficult to explain to students who speak no English. Here's how to set one up:
- Select appropriate pages from beginning level ESL materials.The Newcomer Programs are an example of this type of material. (It isn't necessary for students to work through all the pages from beginning to end.)
- Reproduce them and keep them in a large, clearly marked folder. (Three-hole punch them so students can keep them neatly in their own binders.)
- Add any other materials that you have found work well with beginners. Omit sections or pages that are not appropriate to your students' needs.
Establish a regular routine
At first, everything will be chaotic to your non-English speakers. Give them help in organizing time, space, and materials. Make a schedule to give your students a sense of structure. Tape it to their desks, or have them keep it in the front of their ESL notebooks. Send a copy home so that parents can help their children feel more connected to the classroom. Finally, remember that your ESL students need to be a part of your class. Be sensitive to this when assigning work. Don't isolate ESL students from their peers with separate work all day long. When necessary, a buddy or volunteer can work with your newcomers.
© 1998-2005 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net