Friday, November 7, 2008

Pre-K Spanish-Speaking Students Learn English

By Claire Pescheret

The pre-k classroom where I volunteer is taught in 90% Spanish and 10% English. Each day I volunteer, I am privy to Tania’s, the teacher of my pre-k students, lessons in English. She usually sings some sort of song, or reads a book in English. It is very interesting to watch the mainly Spanish speaking students respond to this lesson.

Tania always tries to get full participation from the students, but this is quite a challenge when it comes to the English lesson. About 50% of the students are fairly proficient in English, and can follow Tania, but the other half is not. They seem to just stare at her as she speaks English, not really comprehending much.

I feel that teaching English to such a young age group can be difficult, because there are always students at different proficiency levels. Those students that know English simply blurt out answers and words, which the others will then just copy. It may seem as if the entire class has a handhold on what is being taught, but really many of them are lost. I believe that, for such a young age group, a second language should be taught on a much more one-on-one basis. This private setting should give children more confidence in their own skills and can hone-in on their personal weaknesses.

I am sure both of these methods have been tried before, and each has strengths and weaknesses. One issue with my suggestion may be the lack of faculty. The large group method has been used in the past; therefore, if it continues to be implemented it must have worked well.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I'm sure that one-on-one would be wonderful for the children! That would be very expensive. But you and the other students can give a lot of attention to students who need it. Can you imagine how much attention the children could get if even more UofI students volunteered there?!!?

    Also, just wanted to mention that students in our Spanish class at the U of I are always at different language levels as well. It is a challenge when you're teaching. The most proficient speakers can end up not feeling challenged while the students with weaker language skills can get lost and tune out.