As kids grow, they can attain 2 levels of language expertise; Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills are also known as BICS, and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency also knew as CALP. Maria has been in America for a few months now, and she is at the BICS level. She can interact with other students in the social setting but not in the classroom setting. Mr. Bennett assumes that since Maria is fluent with her peers, she should be the same in class.
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This is not so, it may be that she does not comprehend some of the vocabularies used in science and geography lessons. Words like ‘deduce’ and ‘contrast’ might be very new to her and Mr. Bennett might not realize it. Also, it may be that she under went a different learning system back in Mexico. Therefore, Mr. Bennett has to come up with a teaching strategy, to get through to Maria.
One of the things he could do is give Maria some simple tasks while in class. Since Maria is a little bit strange to the classroom setting, simple tasks will make Maria feel that she is contributing; this is bound to boost her confidence. It may be that all Maria needs, is a little push to start building his confidence. She should begin with a simple task; closing the classroom door after the bell rings is a good example.
In this task, there is little or no interaction with either her classmates or the teacher. It is a simple task, but she will be doing it under the eye of the whole class including the teacher. The teacher should not forget to alternate the students who close the door so that no kids will form an opinion or joke regarding Maria closing the door.
Once she has gained enough confidence to do such an activity, Mr. Bennett should introduce a little more interactive task like collecting or distributing papers in class. In this task, interaction is present when the teacher asks Maria to collect the papers. The little interaction she will have with her peers will make her feel a bit easy in the classroom, thereby boosting her confidence to even respond to simple questions that the teacher might ask.
Later, Mr. Bennett can introduce a more interactive task like taking a small survey in the class; for example, finding out the number of boys and the number of girls in the class. She will have the opportunity of counting aloud in the classroom. Once she has realized that she can dominate the classroom with her voice, she will gain more confidence in responding to questions that might be posed by the teacher. She will be willing to respond even if she knows there is a chance that she might be wrong. Once again, the teacher should remember to assign similar tasks to other students.
The other strategy Mr. Bennett can use is, giving group assignments in class. Group work has been used by teachers all over the world to increase the participation of students in the class. As far as Maria is concerned, Mr. Bennett must be cautious about the activity he chooses; one of the major problems Maria is the English vocabulary. One good example of a class activity he can use is involving the students in finding out what they have in common with each other.
They will be required to list down characters and physical appearances and also their background information. They have to be reminded to focus on the positive side only. Since her friends know her to some extent, they will help her to describe herself. Later, the teacher will ask the students to describe what they have in common with their group members. When it is Maria’s turn, she will be able to use the just learned words to describe herself. In the process, she will realize that she is no different than other students. This will boost her confidence and will improve the degree of response she currently has with Mr. Bennett.
Finally, Mr. Bennett should concentrate on what Maria says rather than how she says it. The way she has been expressing herself in Mexico might be different from the conventional way in American classes. Mr. Bennett needs to find out how girls like Maria express themselves in Mexico.
This will help the teacher to find other ways he can interact with Maria. For example, Mr. Bennett can try to be complementing Maria, but shifting focus immediately to something else different. While giving examples, the teacher can try to look for situations that are familiar to Maria. Trying to make the class environment more familiar to Maria, might improve her level of interaction in the classroom.
The Internet can be a source of great teaching aid to teachers. It is full of pictures and videos that can help the teacher during his lesson. A series of pictures can be used by the teacher to help children come up with a written story. The limits on which the teacher can use the pictures are endless. In one method, the teacher can have a pool of pictures present in each group of students. A story relating to the pictures will then be narrated, and the student will be required to pick the relevant pictures that match the story. This will allow the students to be more interactive since they are bound to ask questions.
The class should be divided into groups of four or five. All of them should have the same pictures, probably printed out. In the pictures, there should be a collection of pictures that make up the story to be narrated. Other random pictures should be included as well. The teacher will start to narrate the story as the students make notes. Once the story is over, they will be asked to pick pictures from the pool and form a sequence of pictures that best describe the just narrated story. In this exercise, the student will be able to improve their vocabulary and improve their logical thinking.