Sensitize Your Mainstream Students
by Judie Haynes
You want your newcomers to be accepted on the playground and on the school bus. Sensitize mainstream students to the challenges that new learners of English face.
You want mainstream students to accept and help the new learners of English in the lunchroom, on the playground, on the bus, in their neighborhoods. ESL and bilingual teachers need to help classroom teachers train their students to become sensitive to the challenges the newcomers face.
Use background information
Using cooperative groups of five or six students, have a group leader discuss the following questions: (This list can also be used in staff development to make adults more aware of the challenges newcomers face.)
- Who has moved and changed schools? Where did you move from? How did you feel the first few days? What was different in your new neighborhood? How did you handle being without your friends? How did you make new friends? What did people do that make you feel welcome in your new school. What did you wish some would have done? What should the teacher do?
- Who came here from another country? What country? When did you come? Could you speak English? How did you feel? How did you make friends? What helped you learn English.
- How many of you speak another language? Can you teach us to say hello? Count to five? Why is it good to know another language?
- How many of you have traveled to a country where English is not the main language? How did you feel when you couldn't communicate? Would you like to learn another language? How long do you think it takes to learn a new language?
Have each group of students present a short summary of what their group discussed and what conclustons they reached?
Rearrange the students again in groups of five or six. Have them discuss the following: Imagine that your parents had to move to Japan and took you to live there. You have to go to a Japanese school because there is no American school near your new home.
- Would you want to go? What would you want to take with you? Who are the people you would miss?
- Do you think you would have trouble learning Japanese? Who would you talk to if you were the only one in your class who speaks English? If there were some other American in your school, would you want to be friends with them? How would you make friends with kids who didn't speak English? How would you feel if the other students laughed at you if you made mistakes when you tried to speak Japanese? How would you feel if you couldn't do any of the work?
Ask each group to present a short oral paragraph about their group's discussion. Brainstorm with them how they would feel if they were newcomers in the United States. How would they want the students in their new school to treat them? How would they be able to communicate with their classmates?
© 1998-2004 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net