“The parents of millions of American schoolchildren are not fluent in English, presenting an extra challenge to learning at home.” R. S. Rani, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Imagine Online School in a Language You Don’t Understand, By Rikha Sharma Rani, The New York Times
“Like many parents, Zainab Alomari has spent the last month trying to help her children learn at home. But unlike most, she has been talking to teachers and working through lessons in a language she barely understands.
Ms. Alomari came to the United States in 2006 from Yemen, where she spoke Arabic. She knows only a few basic English words and phrases.
Four of her six children attend Oakland public schools. When teachers call, Ms. Alomari makes sure her daughter Maysa, 15, is around to serve as an interpreter, handing her the phone mid-conversation. When one of her children has a question about the instructions on an assignment, Ms. Alomari relies on Google Translate.
Her husband is gone most days to run the family’s grocery business, leaving Ms. Alomari, 39, alone to help the children.
‘I’m doing my best,’ she said through an interpreter. ‘But I don’t know if this is going to affect their learning.’
Remote schooling poses a special challenge for families who are not fluent in English. About five million American schoolchildren are classified as English-language learners, meaning they lack fluency, and even more come from homes where their parents speak a different language.
Nearly a quarter of immigrants and their American-born children live in poverty, and Hispanic immigrants, in particular, are less likely to have access to a computer or home internet service. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, English-language learners were at high risk for chronic absenteeism…Some California districts were particularly well prepared. Many schools in the state use software that can send text messages — often the best way to reach parents — in multiple languages. In other states, including Nebraska, some districts are airing classes on their local public broadcasting stations, including instruction in Spanish…In the Oakland Unified School District, which Ms. Alomari’s children attend, 33 percent of students are English-language learners, and 5 percent are newcomers who have been in the country less than three years and speak a language other than English at home.
To reach more of these students, the district has published a list of learning resources in Spanish, Chinese, Khmer and Arabic, and teachers are making an extra effort to reach out to them…But not every school, teacher or parent has been able to make things work. Some districts, especially small or rural ones, do not translate content into languages other than English, or have limited resources to do so. DeSoto County in Mississippi has one Spanish translator serving 42 schools in the district…and translating a document such as a lesson plan can take up to 10 days. Possible solutions to help low-income families and immigrant students include expanding Wi-Fi hot spots in poorer neighborhoods and hiring more translators in schools.”
Related Article: “When Coronavirus Care Gets Lost in Translation.”
“Medical interpreters must now work remotely, multiplying the challenges for front-line doctors and non-English-speaking patients.” By Emma Goldberg, The NYT
Additional Information for English Language Learners:
The Duolingo English Test For ESL Learners: The future of language proficiency assessment
“With the suspension of traditional English proficiency tests in countries most affected by the coronavirus, a wave of US institutions are now accepting the results of the Duolingo English Test, either as stand-alone proof or as a supplement to other measures of English-language proficiency.” AVC
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Have students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine any photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Maysa is around to serve as an interpreter.
- Remote schooling can be a challenge for non-English speaking families.
- Many students are not fluent in English.
- English-language learners were at high risk for chronic absenteeism.
- Online school during the pandemic exacerbates the other family problems.
- Some school districts with large low-income immigrant populations help the families.
- Schools make certain families have food and other essentials at home.
- newcomers who have been in the country less than three years have a difficult time learning online.
- To reach more of these students, the district has published a list of learning resources in Spanish.
- Communicating in English takes a lot of effort for many language learners.
Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions
Like many parents, Zainab Alomari has spent the last month trying___ help her children learn ___home.
Four___her six children attend Oakland public schools.
Her husband is gone most days ___run the family’s grocery business.
When one ___her children has a question___ the instructions ___an assignment, Ms. Alomari relies ___Google Translate.
Nearly a quarter ___immigrants and their American-born children live ___poverty.
Reading Comprehension Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
Ms. Torres, an ___from Mexico,___ two to three days a week ___houses, even during the crisis. She has put her___ son in charge of ___his little brother with ___ but she is concerned that neither of them are getting the ___they need.
WORD LIST: support, helping, older, cleaning, immigrant, works, homework,
III. Post Reading Activities
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions. Afterwards, let them share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Are you an ESL student? What is your school doing to help support second language learners with virtual schooling during the epidemic?
- According tho the article how are some states helping students and families during online learning?
- Aside from learning English, what are some of the other challenges facing teachers, students and parents?
- According to the article, “Possible solutions to help low-income families and immigrant students include expanding Wi-Fi hot spots in poorer neighborhoods and hiring more translators in schools.” Do you think this will help immigrant students? Why or why not?
- Can you think of other solutions to help immigrant students?
- After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.