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Interview With A Language Learner English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5362 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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To begin with, I read my assignment to interview an English Language Learner. This seemed like it was going to be a challenge since I did not know an ELL. I shared this assignment with my husband. He told me there was a parent on my son’s wrestling team who spoke Spanish. This seemed like a great idea so I went to the wrestling practice on Wednesday with my son. When I arrived I seen the lady talking, but was nervous about approaching her since I had never met her. Finally after about 10 minutes I walked over to her and introduced myself. Then I told her I needed to interview an English Language Learner for my college class. She told me she would be happy answer any of my questions.

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The person I interviewed was Marietta. Marietta was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 21, 1968 to Maritza Suarez and Angel Benero. She has two brothers and one sister. Spanish was the main language spoken in her home as a child. As a child she began learning English in the private preschool she attended. There she learned to read and write English. While I school learning came slow to Marietta since she was dyslexic and didn’t learn to read or write until she was 13 years old. Textbooks were written in English in Puerto Rico. English is taught different in Puerto Rico than in Spain since it is close to America.

Marietta married November 29, 1997 to Juan Navarro. They have three children. Two sons Jorge and Luis and a daughter Paola. Juan is in the United States Coast Guard. Jorge is the oldest. He is in the 12th grade. Academics are difficult for him while he is in ESE classes. Their son Luis is in the 3rd grade and suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. Paola is a 6th grade and she is on the A/B honor roll. Only Jorge and Paola are able to speak Spanish and understand it. Luis can understand Spanish, but isn’t able to speak it. Both English and Spanish are spoken in their home. As a family they watch both English and Spanish television shows.

I have to declare this was a wonderful interview. Even though, I was nervous about interviewing someone I didn’t know it was a pleasant experience. Marietta was very eager to share with about her family. She advised me when I teach ELL students it is helpful to use graphics with Spanish to English vocabulary. It was exciting to hear Marietta mention that she was attending Florida State College of Jacksonville to get a degree to be a Chef. For the summer term she was taking English Composition I. After she told me about her attending college I told her I would be happy to help her with the English if need me to.


In what country were born?

When is your birthday?

At what age did you learn to speak English?

Was English spoken in your home as a child?

Do you have trouble speaking the English Language?

When did you learn to write English?

Was English difficult for you to learn?

Do you have any children?

Does your husband speak English?

What is the primary language spoken in your home?

Can your children speak your native language and English?

Is there any advice you would give teachers who are teaching English Language Learners?

Multicultural Activity

Title: Winter Holidays around the World

Grade level 2nd grade

Topic: Winter holidays are not celebrated the same everywhere.

Summary: These 3 day lessons are designed to teach students about the culture of

Mexico, Israel and China; and the winter holidays celebrated by their cultures. Students will learn about Las Posadas, Hanukkah and Chinese New Year.

Materials required:

Mexico: a balloon, newspaper, glue, candy, recipe for Mexican hot chocolate.

Israel: Dreidel pattern, dreidel game rules, bag of dry beans, recipe and ingredients for potato latkes

China: black construction paper, paint, drinking straws, glue, glitter, 18X12 pieces of colored construction paper, stapler, yellow tissue paper, crepe paper streamers

World globe, individual coloring sheets of the flag for each country.

Books needed:

Mexico; The People by Bobbie Kalman

Nine Days to Christmas by Maria Hall

Israel: Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Susan Roth

The Miracle of the Potato Latkes, A Hanukkah Story by M. Penn

China: Chinese New Year by Tricia Brown

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low


Students will recognize how three different countries and their winter celebrations.

Students will be able to locate each country on the globe.

Day 1

I will tell the students we are going to pretend to be world travelers for the next three days. We are going travel to Mexico, Israel, and China to learn about their Winter celebrations.

Today we are going to visit Mexico. Does anyone know where Mexico is located? Let’s find it on our globe.

I want to tell you about Mexico before we read our books. We will learn that in Mexico their winter celebration is called Las Posadas. They start celebrating nine days before Christmas. They celebrate every night from December 16th to December 24th. Each night children and their families reenact the story of Mary and Joseph trying to find a place to stay for the night. Then finally they went to a home and were welcomed by the innkeeper. At this place there is a celebration on the final night of Las Posadas. The families and friends celebrate with special food and Mexican hot chocolate. There is a piñata for the children.

Now I will read some books about Mexico before we go to our centers.

Read books to the class. The People by Bobbie Kalman

Nine Days to Christmas by Maria Hall

I would have three centers set up for the students. Role play center, piñata center, and flag center.

Role play center students would pretend they were Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. The students would take turns being Mary, Joseph and the innkeeper.

Piñata Center- Students would take turns adding newspaper dipped in glue to a balloon which has already been blown up.

Flag Center- Students would color and label their flag of Mexico. Teacher would write on the board the colors and their meaning. Green=independence, white=purity, red=blood, eagle with snake=fight for independence.

At the end of the day we will have a special drink Mexican hot chocolate which will have already been made using the recipe below

Mexican Hot Chocolate

3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

6 cups milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground Mexican cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract

Using a sharp knife, break up chocolate squares into smaller pieces.

In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate, milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Heat and stir until chocolate melts and milk is very hot.   Do not allow to boil.

Add vanilla extract and beat until frothy with a rotary beater, or with an electric mixer on low speed. Pour Styrofoam cups.

Makes 48 ounces.


The students will take turns hitting the Piñata which will have candy in it.

When the Piñata is busted students can get the candy and put it I their backpacks to be eaten at home.


Have students write an informative paragraph about Mexico and Las Posadas. Collect and grade paragraphs.

Day 2

Today we are going to pretend to visit Israel.

Does anyone know where Israel is located? Give students time to answer. Let’s locate it on our globe. Would you like to know what winter celebration happens in Israel?

I would be happy to tell you. In Israel they celebrate Hanukkah. This is a Jewish holiday. It is also called The Festival of Lights. We will find that this holiday is celebrated for eight days during the month of December. The eight day celebration is significant because when it was time to light the temple lamp a long time ago there was only enough oil to keep it lit for one day. Amazingly, the oil burned for eight days which gave them time to find more oil. For this reason, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night to honor the eight day miracle. A menorah is a candle holder which holds nine candles on of them is called the servant candle because the other are lit by it. After the candles are all lit there is a party to celebrate. Children play with dreidel while enjoying a favorite treat called potato latkes. A dreidel is a four sided tops. Potato Latkes are like potato pancakes.

Now I want to read some books to you about Hanukkah.

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Susan Roth

The Miracle of the Potato Latkes, A Hanukkah Story by M. Penn

I would have three centers set up. The centers would be a game center, map center, and cooking center. Students would take turns going to each center.

Game center -Students would make a dreidel from a pattern. A dreidel has four sides marked with Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimel, Hei, and Shin. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham which means a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.

Students would play the game after making their dreidel. The letters on the dreidel man Nit (nothing), gantz (all), halb (half) and shtell (put). Everyone puts in a bean. A person spins the dreidel. If it lands on Nun, nothing happens; on Gimel person gets all the beans; on Hei gets half the beans; and on Shin, you put a bean in. Game ends until someone has all the beans.

Map center- Color and label map of Israel. Blue and white are the colors on the Jewish prayer shawl and the Star of David is the traditional symbol of the Jewish people.

Cooking center will be manned by a parent volunteer.

Recipe for Potato Latkes

3 cups Simply Potato hash browns

1 cup frozen chopped onions (thawed and drained)

½ cup egg whites

½ cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp each salt and black pepper

Vegetable oil

Directions: Mix hash browns with eggs, mix well. Add flour gradually while mixing until batter is doughy, not too dry. Add baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix well again.

Then heat about ½ inch of oil to medium high heat. Form the batter into thin patties about the size of the palm of your hand. Fry batter in oil. Flip when the bottom is golden brown. Place finished potato latkes on paper towels to drain. Students can enjoy this treat when it is warm enough to eat.


Students will answer the following questions.

Where did this holiday originate? ______________________

When is this holiday? ______________

How many days is Hannukah celebrated? _________________

Why is it celebrated? ______________

What is name for the candle holder?_________________

Answer key




8 days oil burned


Day 3

Wow, we are about to travel to another country. Let’s pretend we are going to visit China.

Does anyone know the location of China? We will locate it together.

In China they have a celebration called Chinese New Year or Spring Festive. This important holiday celebration begins about mid-January or mid-February and last about 15 days. It begins with New Year’s Eve and ends with the Lantern Festival at the full moon.

Chinese New Years is celebrated with fireworks. It is believed that the Chinese invented fireworks thousands of years ago.

We will now read some books about the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year by Tricia Brown

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low

There will be three centers set up painting, map center and creative center.

Paint Center

Students will each have a black piece of construction paper. They will put small drops of paint on to their paper and then blow the drops with a straw. Before the paint dries, they will sprinkle glitter on the picture. This will represent fireworks.

Map Center

Students will color and label map of China.

Teachers will write on board. The red color of the flag symbolizes revolution. The large star symbolizes the Communist Party which rules China and the smaller represent the people of China.

Creative Center

Students will make a lantern.

They will color a picture on their piece of 18″ X 12″ colored construction paper.

Fold the paper lengthwise with the decoration out.

Starting at the fold, make evenly spaced cuts about 1″ apart, ending where you began. Teacher will draw ending lines for students.

Open the paper and staple together the short edges.

Stuff middle with yellow crumpled tissue paper.

Staple a strip 1″ X 6″ construction paper to make handle.

Add crepe paper streamers to bottom.

Hang lanterns in the classroom.


Give students a Venn Diagram to complete. They will compare Chinese New Year to New Years in America.








3) “Planning” Article Summary and Reflection: Classroom Planning with ESL in Mind

This article Classroom Planning with ESL in Mind had some strategies, instructional tips, use of language, and information about ESL students with special needs. Also there was information on assessing, evaluating and reporting student progress.

First, the strategies and instructional tips discussed the challenges which English Second Language students face. They have three challenges: trying to gain the knowledge need for various subjects, learning the English Language while developing the ability to interact with their peers. Teachers should remember that they are always role modeling the English language while teaching. In doing so they need to make sure their lessons are presented using various formats in order to encourage students to reflect on their knowledge so the can respond effectively in class.

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Next, a teacher’s use of language is important in the classroom. They should be cautious of their vocabulary they use since students might have trouble comprehending what is spoken. Idioms can especially present a problem with English Language Learners. A teacher should rephrase idioms or teach their meanings. ELLs would take the idiom literally instead of way its intended meaning. For example, “If you tell the students to hit their books” They might hit their books with their hands. Instead the meanings you want to convey is start studying or do your work. If idioms are going to be used in the classroom then as a teacher it would be good to have an idiom wall which gave the meanings for each. It would also be a good idea to clearly mark transition times during classroom activities which can prevent confusion to your ESL students to clearly indicate changes.

Third, when a question is asked the English as a Second Language students needs to have time to process the question asked before responding. Usually they need to translate it into their first language, formulate the answer in their first language and then translate an approximate answer into English. It is also mentioned how as a teacher I need to teach the vocabulary words and their meaning for subjects such as biology which has words that are not regularly used in everyday communication. A great exercise to help with learning new vocabulary is to use a cloze exercise with the lesson since it will leave out important key word for students to fill in from the passage. A Cloze exercise can reinforce ESL students’ grasp of the content and new vocabulary. Students will also benefit from written instructions since they might have difficult processing oral information quickly enough to understand. When giving student homework those written notes or directions would be useful.

Fourth, ESL students have the same range of abilities as others in the same population. However, some many require extra assistance in other areas. Some may demand consideration for disabilities such as visual impairments, hearing deficiency, lack of psychomotor skills, or certain talents or gifts. There could be ESL students with other requirements that may affect their learning. If a student was a refugee and has been traumatized in the past she might have the need for additional support and counseling.

Fifth, you will find information about assessing, evaluating and reporting on student progress in this article. These are important and can be done in the students’ classroom to make it more comfortable. The evidence of how an ESL student is developing his language proficiency can be determined using short in class test. Avoid multiple choice assessments with ESL students because they involve excessive reading and usually depend on comprehension of slight meanings. ESL students also will need extra time for the test because as with most questions they need to process it into their first language, formulate the answer and translate it back to English before putting it on paper. If you want to check a student’s comprehension or to clarify a problem speak in their native language. Provide a translation of key words which might be difficult to explain in English. There is a need to find out what the students may know but, have difficult expressing in English. This additional support for the ESL student is generally for a limited time.

Lastly, teachers who have previously taught students with English as a second language have a list of helpful instructional materials. Some of these materials are dictionaries designed for learners of English, bilingual dictionaries, alphabet letters in print in cursive, and games to name a few. These items in a classroom will help students with English as a second language feel more comfortable and independent.

There are five points which I found most interesting. The first one is that research states the more highly developed as students’ first language; the more successful they will be learning a second language. It has been proven; bilingual students who continue to improve their first language are more successful than those how focus entirely on acquiring English. These students also have higher self esteem when they know their first language is valued.

Second, it is important how a teacher responds to students’ language errors. If a teacher is critical a student might be less eager to attempt to speak in English. Instead this article advises teachers to rephrase a student’s incorrect grammar in a way to provide positive feedback and to model correct usage without drawing attention to their error. For example if a students says “Pig are dirty animal.” You can respond, “Yes, pigs are dirty animals” Can you name another dirty animal? If a student continues with this same error then maybe you can work with him on correct subject verb usage.

Third, the use of peer tutoring is a great method for teaching. A more advanced ESL student can help new ESL students. They know how hard it is to learn English as a second language. Many times students enjoy learning from their peers. Students also seem to be more open to share their frustrations with each other than with their teachers. The more advanced student can be the translator between the student and teacher when necessary.

Forth, I liked the reminder that it can be exhausting and demanding performing all day in a second language. This is helpful to know because as a teacher I would not think of this since I am not bilingual. In addition, the fact that homework can take ESL students two to three times longer to complete because they need to first translate it into their first language, formulate it and then translate it back. Homework might also be frustrating to ESL students since they might not understand the directions. They might feel they had done enough work during the day. Also their parents would probably not be able to help them because they don’t know English.

Fifth, I like the list of instructional materials from teachers who have previously taught ESL students. This list will help make sure I have these resources available in my classroom for the students to use. More resources a student has to help translate words to English the less they will feel dependent on you the teacher or their classmates.

I enjoyed reading this article which had a wealth of useful information for teachers of ESL students planning their classroom. As a new teacher I can benefit from the information in this article. This is an article I will place with other information which I will refer to frequently when I become a teacher. It would also be good for me to share this with other future teachers who are not in this class.

4) Article of My Choice: Language Use by Bilingual Special Educators of English Language Learners with Disabilities

Paneque, O. M., & Rodriguez, D. (2009). Language Use by Bilingual Special Educators of English Language Learners with Disabilities. International Journal of Special Education , 63-69.


After reading chapter 9 in our textbook I decided to research an article about Bilingual Education of English Language Learners. I went to the University of West Florida library database. The article I found was Language Use by Bilingual Special Educators of English Language Learners with Disabilities which was from the International Journal of Special Education. My reason for choosing this topic is that I presently work in a special education classroom. My degree which I am seeking is a Bachelors with a dual major in Exceptional Education (k-12th), Elementary Education (k-6th).

This article is about examining the language use of five bilingual special education teachers of English language learners with disabilities which was done as an exploratory case. The data on the language used by the bilingual teachers was received from audio tapes, classroom observation and teacher interviews. Also included in this data was the frequency of the use of English and the other languages in the classroom.

The teacher faces challenges when working with students at risk of academic failure. This is particularly difficult when the student has disabilities and is not a fluent English speaker. A teacher must be able to address students’ language and cultural differences along with their cognitive, emotional, and /or physical disabilities to set them up for maximum success.

There is an increasing demand for special education teachers due to the increase of students indentified with disabilities and low retention these teachers. Consequently, this demand for teachers who prepared to work with students with different backgrounds with disabilities stresses the need to provide teachers preparation programs for preservice teachers and professional development opportunities for in-service teachers.

This study was conducted in a large, urban school district which offered a vast range of educational programs to include those needed for students with disabilities and who speak English as a second language. Two schools were indentified because of their student population. At the first school, eighty-seven percent of the student body was Hispanic and eighteen percent of the students received special education. At the second school, ninety-five percent of the student body was Hispanic with fourteen percent receiving special education services. Tow teachers from the first school and three from the second school volunteered to be part of the case study. All five teachers were female Hispanics who were employed fulltime as special education teachers. Three of the five teachers had ESOL endorsement but, only two of the five had both special education and ESOL certification.

The results from the data collection revealed that the teachers were both using English and Spanish for instruction with their English Language Learners with disabilities. However, further analysis of the data indicated overall that teachers were using English ninety percent of the time while teaching. Spanish was primarily used to clarify instructions with those who did not have fluent English. It was also used to redirect students to their given task as well as to praise and reprimand them.

Each of the five teachers felt the use of Spanish for instruction was positive. They planned on using Spanish when the need arose. Furthermore, these teachers expressed they had an advantage when communicating with parents since they were bilingual. Many of the parents were not fluent in English. The teachers’ ability to speak the native language of the parents helped form better communication. If the students native languages are used for teaching strategies and instruction it can encourage language development because it builds on what they already know.

Clearly, when the students’ native language is used to introduce new concepts and give explanation this will facilitate learning. Therefore, the result of this exploratory case study is the beginning attempt to lend information about the issue of using native language for instruction for children with disabilities. Research explains how special education teachers can use bilingual skills while working with English Language Learners and how their learning is affected by language based differentiated instruction. The findings from this case study indicates that teacher preparation programs should include how teachers can incorporate students native language along with English to accommodated their cognitive, emotional and /or physical needs.

In my opinion, this article mentions some important findings from its exploratory case study. To begin with are the qualifications of the five teachers. Only two of the five teachers had both special education certification and ESOL endorsement. These are important certifications when your student population consists of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. Next, teachers using English for instruction with limited use of the students’ native languages while in the classroom. Their native language is needed as the article states at the end to summarize complex concepts. Lastly, it would be difficult for teachers to accommodate students with disabilities and limited English proficiency without proper training. Certifications are important but, training is imperative for teachers to be equipped to instruct their students.

Someone once said a quote I feel applies to everyone including English Language Learners and those with or without disabilities. “Everyone deserves an education despite their ability or disability”

5) Language Modes Activities

Reading- Partner reading- Students take turns reading to each other.

Chose a short story to read from http://www.eslfast.com/. This website has 365 short stories for students to choose from. This is good for reading practice.

Student can use http://www.starfall.com/. This website has stories that are read to you. You can read along as you listen.

Writing- Daily writing in a journal.

Write a story about a picture from a book.

Have students write down the directions needed to do an activity. Examples: walk to the library, cook something, play a game.

The teacher will give students a writing prompt. My favorite birthday memory was………….. Students will finish the sentence and add to it. They will write a detailed paragraph answering why, when, where, how, who questions.

Speaking- Role playing- Students pretend with another student that they are discussion their day with their mom or dad.

Show and tell- students bring in an item from home. They get in front of the classroom and talk about their item. Other classmates can ask questions. Example a child brings in a sharks tooth to share with the class.

Be the teacher for 15 minutes- Have the students take turns during the week being the teacher for 15 minutes each. They will teach the class about something they know how to do. For example, a student from China could give a lesson about using chopsticks. Another student could give a lesson about braiding hair.

Listening- Play a game of Simon Says- students need to hear the person say Simon says, “Touch your head.” If they touch their head when someone says ;”Touch your head.” They are out because Simon didn’t say it. The game continues until only one person is left. They are declared the winner and now they are Simon.

Listen to books that have been recorded on a compact disc. Teacher can have questions for students to answer while they listen.

Students will listen to songs which are used in the classroom. They can also sing along.

6) Graphic Organizers:

Venn Diagrams

I could use this when comparing two different items. For example, I could compare the traditions of families in Mexico and America. The right circle would be Mexico, left circle America. Traditions for each country would be listed in their circle except for the traditions they both share which would be place in the overlapping circle in the middle.


KWL Chart

This is a great chart to list K-what the student knows, W-wants to know, L-what they learned. They can use this before investigating about the Civil War

http://www.edhelper.com/ read new book teachers/graphic_organizers_kwl.htm

Event map

This will help students to organize who, what, where, when, why, and how of an event. They can use this when they are reading an article about Hurricane Hugo.


Timeline organizer- Students can use this to sequence the dates of the Journey of Columbus. This will help them remember the dates if they have the information on the timeline. The timeline can be used as a study guide.


Story map

This story map will help you organizer information from a story. You can list the outcome, problem, events, character, action, and setting. This will help them with their reading comprehension. If they don’t remember the information they should go back and scan the story. http://www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml


Persuasive Letter Graphic Organizer

This is a great organizer to use when writing a persuasive letter. Students can chart who their audience will be and why they want to persuade them. They can also brainstorm their reasons and then list them from least to most important. This will help them organize their thoughts before writing their letter. The student might want to persuade their parents to let them buy a new video game.



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