Gosh, you've got your work cut out for you. I had high school students who were illiterate in their native languages, but they were in ESL I, not a general ed class! Oh, boy. O.K. Some advice:
She needs to learn the alphabet and how to write. I would have her work on handwriting sheets. Does she know manuscript? If not, I'd start there. When the rest of the students are working in journals or on independent writing assignments, I'd have her work on her handwriting and the alphabet. These are essential skills she MUST have. Ask the first grade teachers at your school if they have any of these materials you can copy and use.
To build key vocabulary, you can use Total Physical Response (TPR). You can teach her all the items in the classroom and basic classroom commands doing this. Try to find ten minutes out of your day to do this with her, then have her practice writing the vocabulary she has learned. Do you know how to use TPR? If not, I will explain it, but I don't want to bore you with it, if you do know it.
Is there a child in your class who speaks fluent Spanish? If so, pair her up with this child and have this child become her translator for such things as science experiments and group projects. I was telling another teacher on this board that I believe a teacher needs to offer extra credit to the study buddy because it is very hard work, and the study buddy needs to be given a break from the job, too. In your case, I would predominately use the study buddy for "higher level thinking" activities that don't require reading and writing. There's no reason why your ESL student cannot participate fully in these activities.
Always give her the opportunity to answer questions in Spanish during class discussions, with the study buddy translating what she said.
Ask the kindergarten and first grade teachers for help teaching very basic math concepts. They can give you some really good ideas, and they may well have texts and manipulatives they will let you borrow.
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom...I have relatively NO knowledge of how to work with ELL kids...there may be some children (1 or 2?) in the BUILDING who speak some Spanish, but definitely no one in our room.
Tell me more about TPR.
By the way...our ELL teacher also does not speak Spanish.
First, if the kids who speak Spanish are the same age as your student, I'd see what I could do about pairing up the kids with your student during social times and non-academic subjects, like at lunch, on the playground, and/or in Specials. If they are the same age or even close, it would be nice if the child who is fluent in Spanish gave a tour of the school to your student, taking your student around the building to see where the office is, the principal, the counselor, the nurse, etc., and to answer any questions your student might have.
TPR is a method of teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills to a student, who cannot speak the language. When you have a student who cannot speak any English, using TPR can save your life! This is the way I did it during the first weeks of school:
I would have the students desks in a circle with mine in the middle. All my students and I would be sitting down, and I would say, "Stand up," then I would stand up. I would say, "Sit down," then I would sit down. I'd do this three times, then I would say to all my students, "Stand up," and they would stand up, then I'd say, "Sit down," and they would sit down. I would go around to each student individually and have each student do it. I continued in this fashion, repeating three times and mimicking the action, to teach all the classroom commands, "Stand up," "Sit down," "Raise your hand," "Open your book," "Close your book," "Get out your book," "Get out a piece of paper," "Get out a pen," "Pass your paper to the front," etc.
After the students had grasped the oral commands, I would write the commands on the board, pointing at them, as I said them, not mimicking them, and the students would have to follow the commands I was pointing to. I then would just point at the commands on the board and have the students respond by reading the commands only. Then, I would write the commands in a different order and only point at the commands, having the students follow the command I was pointing at but NOT saying. Then, I would have the students practice saying the commands with me. Finally, I would have the students write the commands down. I believe in true TPR, speaking and writing are not used, but I was required to teach them so I did. Here's an article on TPR:
You also can do this to teach where everything is in the classroom--desk, pencil sharpener, chalkboard, bulletin board, window, door, desk, etc. I advise labeling everything in the classroom with English labels, and requesting the student paste the label on the correct object. For example, you would say, "Door," and hand the student the "Door" label. She would go to the door and put the "Door" label on the door. Everything in the classroom will need to be labeled for the student, and all the labels should be in English not Spanish.
So, that's a brief explanation. I hope some of this helps you. Just try to keep building vocabulary with TPR. It's amazing how much vocabulary can be taught in a very short time and applied to teach grammar and sentence structure. It REALLY works!
Excellent advice...I have some things labeled, but not enough.
I can't believe how "expressive" I have gotten with my directions, gestures, etc. to try to get her to understand a glimmer of what I am saying! I hope she progresses....I will read the article above tonight. THANKS.
was to teach them survival language first. For example, how to ask to go to the restroom, how to tell what she wants for lunch, etc.
Next, she needs to learn some conversational language. While she is learning this, you can also use a child that speaks her native language to translate. I never asked a student to do this, her friends helped her automatically.
Now, you can find some kinder and first grade teachers to help you and let you borrow materials to help her learn the alphabet, colors, numbers, etc. That's about all you can do with her this school year because she may not even know how to write on paper yet. There's no way you will be able to catch her up with the rest of the children. It's like teaching kindergarten. This child needs intensive one-on-one instruction. I have been there. I taught a child in third grade with similar issues. By the end of the school year, you will be amazed at how much she has picked up on the language. However, be advised that most of it will be oral. It appears to me that she is at the Preliterate stage of ESL.
Besides all the great tips of advice about teaching this student survival skills, vocabulary related to the classroom, school, etc., it is necessary to start developing her reading, since this skill is what is going to help her be successful in any subject. Unfortunately, it appears that she doesn't have any knowledge of sounds in her native language that would transfer into the English, so she needs to start learning the "sounds" of the letters instead of the name of them. Knowing the sounds will help her to start forming word families, develop her phonemic awareness, etc. Teach her as you would teach a non-reader English speaker , maybe the kinder or first grade teachers can give you some materials, emergent readers, sight words, etc., that they use with their students. I use the Reading A to Z website, where I can find leveled and guided reading books (that you can print). I usually start with level aa, which is basically pictures and one or two words per page. Also, I teach them the most used sight words that they would see in most books.
I teach ESL and I have been teaching some students from Somalia lately, and that's what I have been doing with them to get them to read as soon as possible. We communicate with lots of gestures, picture cards, and many, many smiles . They are learning so fast and they feel so proud when they can read these little books!
I have a Creole speaking student in 6th grade. He doesn't know any English, but he knows the letter sounds, and is picking things up slowly.
Luckily, there are a few Creole speaking students in my class this year.
LeapFrog fridge phonics would be good also for letter sounds.
our school is 76% ELL kids, and I always have at least one kid with very limited English......as in non-speaker.....I stick them on Starfall a lot...you can also buy easy first grade workbooks at a book store and give the child them to do at school or home.......Explode the code workbooks...i do lots of phonics picture card boxes, and etc...they learn ABCs counting....etc.....
my student who had zero english in Sept can now answer all math questions in English and now understands me enough to nod yes to me
you will see progress....
It usually takes them a year and half in my experience to really pick up the language so that they are speaking it......i had a kid last year who wasnt speaking at the beginning of the year, but by mid year was practically fluent! (a year and a half it seems for each child that has progressed)
Thanks--I just discovered Starfall earlier this week. I also found out that she had been RETAINED in Mexico--so I think her learning needs are more than just needing to learn English. Her sister is picking things up much more quickly. Thanks for your guidance!