I have a student who is Spanish speaking and knows very little English. Since she has been receiving ESL services it is apparent that she also has a learning disability. She is a fourth grade student and she is on a first grade Spanish reading level. I have her participating in literature circles and even though she is being exposed to the English language she really isn't able to participate. We do have access to i pods and i pads so maybe someone knows of a way to integrate that technology. Has anyone else been in this similar situation and found resources or have any suggestions for me to try in my language arts class?
Reading English with a Spanish background is quite simple because Spanish is a phonetic language. I would invite the student to begin to read aloud with the group - it will be slow at first - but the child needs to be encouraged to read and develop the fluency. As the child begins to develop the confidence in reading the vocabulary will develop in no time. Children, just like young adults because I teach secondary, need to get a grasp on the fluency of reading and speaking. Often, the lack of confidence to articulate the language is difficult to develop. I allow the children to enunciate the syllables slowly and I assist when the sound is totally incorrect. I allow them their own interpretation because they are simply trying to put the syllables and sounds together.
Is the student receiving and instruction in Spanish literacy? My understanding is that it is essential for a student's literacy in her native language(L1) to be supported for literacy to go up in English (L2). I've heard estimates that it can take over seven years for a student to really become proficient in a new language--and that's if the student is using the language all the time. It can be assumed that the student may still be using Spanish at home, with Spanish speaking peers, etc.
Additionally--I agree with Olivia that practicing reading--outloud and silently--will benefit the student's development enormously and anything you can do to frontload vocabulary and prepare for reading will help too! It is essential for the student to also have access to the services provided for by your schools Resource Center for students with special needs.
Was your student tested in Spanish to confirm a learning disability? If not, the problem may stem from previous classroom arrangements in her home country. Many student immigrants have received limited instruction in their home country due to the location of the school or limited teachers in the area. I had a young lady in a similar situation a couple of years ago. Her problem was not a learning disability, but limited access to learning resources. As an ESL specialist, I began intensive intervention with her, and by her second year of language acquisition, she was performing at a high intermediate level for language performance among her peers. She should be receiving some form of PUSH in or PULL out services in addition to possible interactions with beginning readers (e.g. second graders) for intensive reading instruction. If your school system has the Rosetta Stone or another computerized language system, that would provide additional assistance in her acquisition of the language. I would suggest finding a teacher within your school that would allow this student to participate in their language arts block, and speak with the ESL oersonnel about providing her with a PUSH in person for math, science, and social studies instruction time. You might also check out ESL resources from Larry Ferlazzo http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/ I hope this information assists you and your student in her acquisitioin process.
Chearl Dickerson, Ed.D.
2nd Grade Teacher--Texas
I agree that we mustn't make assumptions about the presence of a learning disabilty without knowing the educational background and native language capabilites of the child. Perhaps you have access to bilingual special educators or speech-language pathologists who could help you discern strengths and weaknesses in the native languge and of course your ESL staff will play a key role. In the meantime I have been using multiple apps with both my ELL and language-impaired clients which can be modified in a number of ways. They address vocabulary, syntax, comprehension and reading, allow for increased awareness and the opportunity for self correction, and most of all, they are fun and reinforcing. They have truly changed my practice. Some of my favorites are in the Mobile Education Store series (Sentence Builder, Language Builder, Question Builder, Conversation Builder, Story Builder). It will involve a litle bit of time and research to find others that might be useful to you but hopefully this will give you a good start. Good luck.
JFK Magnet School
Port Chester NY