Monday, May 28, 2007

Bilingual field experience #2

My second tour of bilingual classrooms was an entirely different experience although she taught right next door to #1 (that's called academic freedom, folks). The teacher was a redhead who had a hint of a Scottish brogue. She was older; perhaps late 40s. She too had labeled items in her third grade classroom. But the index cards were in English and Spanish. And most of the supplemental material around the room was in English.

She was a joy to watch. She taught with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help paying attention. Most of her lecture was in English, but she watched carefully for comprehension, especially the new students.

She had placed the newcomers close to the experienced ones and sometimes called out things like, “Roberto, help Pedro with that, will you?” And the student would receive only enough Spanish instruction help to keep up with the class.

This woman spoke passable Spanish. Her vocabulary was fine; her accent wasn’t anything spectacular. She had adequate Spanish to work with the parents and manage the classroom, but she was nowhere near the level of a native Spanish speaker. Yet, she was teaching these students and they were learning.

I thought to myself, “This is the type of teacher we need if we are going to shorten the number of years a student stays in the program.”

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