Organizing Your Newcomer's Day

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:

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:

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.