I am new to the field of ESL Education. Currently, I am in my observation semester and then will student teach in the Fall. I hope to gain insight from the group's diverse background and experiences. What challenges will I encounter as a monolingual teacher, if any, in the classroom? It seems to be a large misconception that ESL teachers should speak the language of the students so I wonder if this will hold me back when it comes time to look for a job...
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Samara, you have chosen a great career path and will adore your English Language Learners! I can relate to your anxiety because I was very nervous when I was offered a job to teach in a bilingual classroom (English/Spanish). I was to instruct in English and Spanish to mainly Hispanic students. I had taken Spanish in high school and college, but didn't consider myself truly bilingual. Let me tell you that I did all that worrying for nothing! I had the most incredible 5th graders who were very patient and appreciative. They taught me so much and we learned together. It was truly a "learning" environment for everyone.
Now, to address your concern about being held back because you are a monolingual teacher...you are worrying for nothing like I did;) It will not hold you back. You could have students that speak 5 different languages and you aren't expected to speak Chinese, Arabic, Navajo, Spanish and Turkish to educate those students. Teaching ELLs boils down to using ELL strategies which are just good teaching strategies that any good teacher uses to reach their students. Have you taken the Thinkfinity English Language Learners webinar, yet? If not, take it and you will see specific strategies in action. Strategies include: activating prior knowledge, scaffolding, using concrete objects, graphic organizers, visual clues, building vocabulary, cooperative learning and promoting multiculturalism.
Hope you gain new insights from this group!
Tammy, thank you so much for the detailed response and encouraging words. It is very reassuring to learn that my 'monolingualism' will not hold me back. Its also very exciting to enter into a dual-learning environment in this field. I agree that the field of ESL education does require the use of proper strategies as in most content areas of teaching. I will most definitely take the webinar to enhance my knowledge base and try to put many of these ideas into action in the classroom that I student teach in.
Samara, I am so excited for you! I completed my Student Teaching this past fall in my fourth grade HOLA classroom, and it was a wonderful experience. I am bilingual, so my teacher had me teaching all of the spanish content as well, but since you are monolingual, I would assume you would be teaching all of the english. Every ESL classroom is different with the structure...my classroom was completely spanish m/w/f and tuesday/thursday were english. But, what Tammy was mentioning, focusing on the strategies is absolutely key, and without even trying, they usually just fall into place. If you get the opportunity during your observation - you should try to sit in on an ESL session (schools usually have specialized teachers that take <pull out/push in> ESL students for extra remediation, you will see great example of those strategies and others there).
I wish you the best of luck! Learn from every experience you get in the classroom. Make copies of anything that teachers will let you - you can begin to build your classroom now!
Donnamarie, it is great to hear from somebody that is relatively new to the field as well and can understand my concerns. I agree that strategies are critical and am excited for the day when they can naturally fall into place as you had mentioned. I am currently working with an experienced ESL teacher in a pull-out environment so the experiences I have received working with her have been invaluable. Lucky for me, she makes copies of all of her lesson plans and activities for me too! They will surely be helpful when I have my own classroom. Since you just completed student teaching, are you in the process of looking for a job? if you don't already have one...If so, how is the job field for beginning ESL teachers in your area?
Thank you for the advice and encouragement!
Samara, I would love to say I'm already in my own classroom, but the economy and my student loans have dictated otherwise lol. I moved after student teaching, otherwise I would probably be easily subbing daily between the two schools I was in (student teaching is a great time to network - even if it just ends up being for references). I am currently working in the sales industry and have recently begun applying for subbing. My next plan is to sub when possible and volunteer when I'm not called to sub.
As far as a need in the ESL industry, from everything I've heard (from other educators currently in the field) - if you've got this training/capability/experience under your belt, getting the job you want is much easier than if you had any other qualifications simply because of the high demand.
I hope this helps...And it sounds like your observation teacher would be an awesome teacher to keep in contact with (I've found teachers that I've worked with love hear from/mentor us 'rookies' in the field and love to help whenever possible).
Keep on trying, the right job is out there. It takes time...but your enthusiasm and fresh ideas are helpful!
As a sub, you will have a great opportunity to cultivate those important networking contacts that you mentioned...
Sometimes private schools offer opportunity for experience, which might open the door for public school positions.
Also, be sure to get in touch with local libraries...they often have volunteer programs for ESL tutors, and of course, lots of technology resources to enable tapping into some of the Thinkfinity sites...ReadWriteThink and Literacy Network are great for ELLs...School systems are expecially impressed with technology rich lessons and technology savy teachers...
Wishing you well and please keep us posted with your success and experiences...
I wish I had someone give me these great tips when I was student teaching. Yes, I agree that you learn so much by observing other teachers. Plus seeing effective teachers in active is motivating and rejuvenating when you have been in the field for awhile and want to be inspired again. My daughter's first grade teacher is a pleasure to observe because she has the most engaging centers during reading time from educational board games (she has one on habitats that the kids loves), magnets to help spell and silly sentence starters. So, yes steal all you can from other teachers!
I am an ESL Teacher at Glen Hills Middle School. I am from India and I am not a bilingual teacher. This is a challenging and interesting job that I have ever had. ESL students do not exhibit any behavior problems and they are always eager to learn. At CESA 1, they do conduct regular ESL meeting where all the ESL teachers participate in a discussion and share all the ideas/strategies they use in their classrooms. I have learned a lot from that meeting. There is also a listserv at the DPI website for the ESL teachers where they share their knowledge through emails like this. If you need any help, please do not hesitate to contact me. This is my 3rd year of teaching. I love my job.
Thank you so much for all of the information. Do you have a link with the CESA 1 meeting schedule by chance? It is great that you find your job interesting and you love it. It is so refreshing to hear when people talk about their jobs with such enthusiasm! I can't wait to get started!