When I first took this job I was under the impression that the students' English skillls wouldn't be a concern. For the majority of the students here that's not the case. However, vocabulary is a constant problem. Kids learning new concepts in English don't have knowledge of these concepts in their own language. Ok, so they're learning new words. Does it matter what language they learn something new in?
The new vocabulary isn't the problem. It's that they don't have a lot of the anchor words to grasp definitions. Consider, how do you define the concept of slope in English? The slope or gradient of a line is a number that describes both the direction and the steepness of the line. Oh. Okay. Mr. David? What's steepness? Of course this leads to a demonstration using arms held up at angles and talk about hills and bicycles and up and down.
I've taught kids that primarily speak another language, but this is a new experience. Knowing that I'm in a different scenario here I signed up for a class called TEMC (Teaching English in the Multilingual Classroom). It's every Tuesday after school for two hours.
I'm not just teaching math. I'm teaching English on a daily basis. Not just vocabulary, but English language as well. The way we talk about math has nuisances that I've always taken for granted. To do "this" job right I have to put some extra thought into what I say and how I say it. I need to think about using more visuals, diagrams, and color. Never to old to learn some new things. Here's a visual that the support professionals at school helped me create this past week. We're currently learning about linear relationships.
I've got quite a few that speak Hindi as their primary language as well, but they don't face the same challenges. Most of them have no idea how to read or write in Hindi. They all learn to read and write in English from birth. My guess is we can blame British imperialism for that. Lucky them.