After completing my last teaching assignment, one student stood out in my mind. Amongst all of the children being engaged, exploring, following directions, and responding to questions, there sat a lonely child who just seemed to look around in confusion.
Surrounded by those who knew what to do and how to do it, one child had no idea what was going on. This boy of topic just relocated to western Kentucky from Africa. While in the middle of students like himself, on the same level, and same age there was only difference...he did not speak English.
I sat there and thought to myself..."How awful is it to be in a place where no one spoke my language?" I could only imagine if I went to a new country, such as Africa, and tried to live my day to day life. It would be tremendously hard. Now, to imagine being in a classroom trying to learn new ideas as a young child...almost heartbreaking.
The teacher of the classroom pointed out the barrier he had with the student. He asked the student a question in English in which the boy had no response. I asked, "how do you teach a child with no communication?"
The teacher replied with..."Do the best you can."
The more I think about this topic...the more real it becomes. With diversity rising everyday, this will more than likely be a challenge in every future classroom. As a pre-service teacher this makes me nervous. There will be numerous challenges for me to face in order to manage, excite, and motivate the students to learn. This added to the everyday challenges seems impossible to overcome at first glance. How do I make the student feel welcomed and comfortable in my classroom? How do I engage the student in lessons with such a language barrier? In the end...how can I help him learn?
I've been looking around and many schools are establishing programs to help students transition to English based classrooms. Here is a video talking about such programs for her Alabama based school welcoming a flood of Korean students.
This may seem like a small topic to discuss, but if we stop and recognize the problem we see how it is becoming a greater need everyday in the US classrooms.