Tuesday TESOL Tip #1: Show Me The Picture! - Use These Tips to Build Neural Pathways for English Language Learners with Images and Videos
Back in 2012, when I taught English Language Learner exclusively in Morocco, I began a series called "Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tips". The series was long after a variety of website changes, so I have decided to revise it. I will be sharing one tip each Tuesday, starting with the original tips and expanding on them with the additional knowledge I've added in the last 8 years. Today's TESOL Teaching Tip is to use pictures and videos.
Teach ELL Students Tip #1: Use Pictures, Videos and Displays
One of the thing teachers are often surprised of with English Language Learners is how they can understand some difficult academic vocabulary words, but then not know basic every day words. For example, students will often know about interrogative sentences and the commutative property, but might not know what an olive is. Remember that when English Language Learners are learning, they are not always understanding every word. Additionally non school vocabulary is often not taught at all, or is mentioned in passing.
The concept of "a picture is worth a thousand words" is not new. However for English Language Learners, a picture can build vocabulary faster than hearing the word a hundred time. But of course, we shouldn't just show the kiddo a picture and move on. When we hit a word they don't know, use an image to get them over the hump. Then ask them if they know the word in their native language. This will help them build a connection. Finally, have students use the word in a sentence or in context, asking them to make that picture in their head. By helping students build these neuropathways, they are more likely to bring that picture into their head the next time they encounter that word.
Of course with verbs and more complex concepts, videos are even more effective. Stopping a lesson to watch a 30 minute video isn't ideal, but ten to twenty seconds of ballroom dancing is enough for students to understand the meaning of the word waltz.
Real Life Teaching Example:
I remember teaching using my Muslim Holiday Center Packet in Morocco. One of the activities was for them to draw a picture of words that were important to Ramadan. All of my kids could draw a picture of sunrise and sunset and pray and fast. The word that stumped them was – date (as in the fruit you eat when you break your fast.) Now, if these students lived somewhere else, I would say maybe they don’t know what a date is, but this was Morocco, and dates were a very common snack.
So, I projected an image of a date to show my students and all of a sudden they understood. We then talked about who did and didn't like to eat dates and drew a picture in our packet. All of these things allowed my students to make those connections and allow them to use that word in their writing later that week.
Public Service and Teaching Come Together on today's episode of Teaching Hive Mind: A Worldwide Window into Education Today
Teachers are busy. That should be news to no teacher reading this. However, because we are so busy, we often only see teaching as what WE are doing in our own school in our own area. We forget that there are so many teachers teaching in other parts of the world, in other circumstances, in other ways. For a long time I have wanted to help us as teachers connect with each other, to learn from what is happening in different schools around the world. Then COVID happened and the differences between areas became more and more apparent. So I have reached out to some teacher friends and put together a series called Teaching Hive Mind: A Worldwide Window into Education.
For each episode in this series, I will be interviewing an educator from a different area on what teaching looks like in their area, and how their area is responding to the COVID pandemic. Today I am releasing Episode 2: An Interview with Billie in New Mexico on Public Service and Public Safety during a Pandemic.
For this episode, I spoke with my friend Billie, who I teach with here in New Mexico. In addition to being a first grade teacher, Billie is our union president and is running for the New Mexico State House of Representatives. She is the epitome of a teacher who focuses on the needs of her student and a teacher's role in public service.
Billie and I discussed the unique challenges many of our students in New Mexico face, including a lack of broad band internet. We also discussed the safety procedures put into place in New Mexico, and the possible positive outcomes to come out of this pandemic. Small class sizes, especially seem to be a highlight of positivity from this situation.
Watch the entire interview on my YouTube channel.
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