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HELP! Interview for ESL position coming up
Old 08-13-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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Hi,

I have an interview coming up and would like some advice or perspective mainly because I’m having a hard time deciding on the best approach to take in preparing for it.

The interview is for an ESL teacher position. I had an interview for the same position with another district and did not get that position. I was able to respond to some of the interview questions intelligently and articulately, but I found some the questions to be geared toward someone with actual ESL teaching experience.


I have created a resource binder complete with a nice Table of Contents and cover that is about 2 inches thick. This is my “go to” resource that I would use as an ESL teacher. In this guide are sections on how the state determines a student to be an ELL, who are ELLs, where they are from, immigration myths and facts, acculturation vs assimilation, learning strategies, making language more comprehensible for ells, our state’s English Language standards, laws about what schools are required to provide for ells, allowable accommodations for ELLs when they take the state assessments, scaffolding and differentiation techniques, information pertinent to content teachers who have ells in their classrooms, etc. etc. etc.. I plan on showing this to the interview team and specifically pointing out the sections.

For the last interview I studied my guide like crazy and tried to drum into my head the various information. Much of it I retained. However, when I got to the interview I found it difficult to speak in an lively manner about these things as someone who has experienced them because I HAVE NOT directly experienced them. I only learned about them via my ESL Certification coursework. I do have some experience working with ells as a sub. However this is not enough experience to be able to answer a question like, “What should an ESL CURRICULUM look like?” I really don’t know exactly what an entire curriculum should look like. I can give only broad ideas for what should be included. You do not get a student teaching opportunity while earning your ESL certificate in my state.

So, how does one go about speaking on a topic that one has only learned about and has not directly experienced? How can I prepare for this next interview?

I have been given another chance at a position. I want to walk away knowing that I did my best on the interview.
Thanks,
Hermione


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Old 08-14-2009, 06:02 AM
 
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Do you have teaching experience or are you new to teaching and being an ESL instructor?

Which state do you live in?
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Questions to Consider
Old 08-14-2009, 07:14 AM
 
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Can you verbally translate? Can you translate written work?
How would you work with teachers in a pull-out situation? Inclusion situation?
How would you handle IEPs in ESL? (I hate this question. MANY TIMES, those ESL students with IEPs are only IEPs because of language barriers...but don't say that out loud in your interview, lolol.)
What are the top five things/subject areas you think ESL students should know?
Tell us about ACCESS testing?
What is your teaching philosophy for ESL?
How will you help involve parents of your ESL students--who likely don't speak English--in the school?



Things you can ask at the end of your interview:
What will the salary be? Is it a full or part time position? Is it in one school, or more? Will their be a mentor program for all new teachers? Is there an ESL coordinator I can check things with?
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my answers
Old 08-15-2009, 06:55 AM
 
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Can you verbally translate? No, I cannot.
Can you translate written work?
No, I cannot.

How would you work with teachers in a pull-out situation?
In ESL pull-out situations, I would want to be able to systematically and regularly collaborate with classroom teachers so that I am familiar with the content that my ESL students are learning in their classes, so that I can reinforce and present vocabulary, concepts, and the language involved in ADDITIONAL meaningful contexts. The point is that I want to provide multiple exposure to the content and academic language my ESL students are exposed to. Communication and collaboration with classroom teachers are vital to this.


Inclusion situation?
Communication with classroom teachers is crucial in inclusion situations. I need to be able to know exactly WHAT types of assistance each ESL student needs while in the mainstream classroom. For example, If I am there to scaffold a test for a student, I need to know exactly HOW I should scaffold the test to best meet the needs of that student so he or she is able to use the best of her ability while being accurately assessed. Conferencing with the student's classroom teacher is the best way to get that information.



How would you handle IEPs in ESL? (I hate this question. MANY TIMES, those ESL students with IEPs are only IEPs because of language barriers...but don't say that out loud in your interview, lolol.)


(ASIDE: That is very discouraging to me to know that ESL students have been assessed as needing an IEP, when the only thing present is a language barrier.)
ANSWER: The best answer I can give to this question is, "I would consult with the special education teachers to make sure that during my instruction, I am aware of the special education needs of those students with IEPs so that I can make accommodations and modifications when needed. (that's all I can think of!)


What are the top five things/subject areas you think ESL students should know?
I'm not sure. I have to think about that some more. Things or subject areas? There is a difference.


Tell us about ACCESS testing?
The ACCESS test is an assessment tool developed by WIDA and used by out state to determine a students proficiency in both social and the instructional language involved in content areas of math, science, social studies, and language arts and across the 4 language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The assesment is used to place students in the appropriate level of ESL instruction and also used throught the scholl year to assess student's growth. I have heard from experienced ESL teachers that it is relatively easy to administer but a bit of a challenge to decide which version to administer to each student.


What is your teaching philosophy for ESL?
The most dominant aspect of my philosophy involves providing ample, ample opportunities for students to engage in meaningful, communication-based contexts and activities where they can ACQUIRE as much English as they can. I believe that learning skills and basic phonics has a place in the curriculum, but it should not be the dominant aspect of what students are doing, and it should be incorporated into authentic, communication-based activities. I believe in helping students to acquire English for social purposes and ALSO to prepare them to be versed in academic language that is needed to be able to access and master the mainstream content curriculum. I also have a very culturally responsive approach to my instruction and my relations to the students where I like to embrace students' first language, and first culture and incorporate these things into my instruction when possible. ( I can give examples)



How will you help involve parents of your ESL students--who likely don't speak English--in the school?

Part of being an ESL teacher involves being an advocate to your students and also their parents. By way of regular home visits and parent-teacher conferences, I would be an enthusiastic supporter of parents who desire to improve their own English proficiency by referring them to the TRi-County OIC which offers free ESL classes for adults, as well as any other community resource available to them. Any school or teacher sent correspondence sent home to parents should be in the language and mode of their choice. Parents need to be invited and encourage to be involved in the same way English speaking parents are. I would encourage parents to become involved with the PTA, in after-school sports etc., although sometimes this is difficult because they work. Just because there is a language barrier does not mean that communications the school and the parents is nonexistent. Interpreters/translaters can be used when needed, coupled with a welcoming attitude and a smile that says, "Please join us, you are welcome here, and what can I do to help you! It's one thing if a parent cannot become involved in their child's schooling and extra curricular activities because of practical reasons such as work. What we do not want is for parents not to participate because they feel unwelcome and excluded. That is a terrible feeling for anyone to have, and I have been on the receiving end of that so I am sensitive to it. Also, I would like to encourage content teachers to consider the possibility of inviting ESL parents into the classroom as part of instructional enhancement. ESL parents are full of knowledge about their culture,the part of the world from which they came, and what they went through during the immigration process and sometimes parents are DYING to impart this information with students.
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new to teaching - but I have subbed
Old 08-15-2009, 07:02 AM
 
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I am new to teaching. I have subbed this year - 4 times in ESL. I just completed my ESL 12-credit program specialist certificate. Our instructors had mentioned to us that completing the coursework and getting the endorsement to your certificate is just the tip of the iceberg in our experience in being an ESL teacher. Of course it is only the tip of the iceberg. I wish that the people who call me for an interview would see that by the info on my resume that anything I can tell them about teaching ESL is from BOOK knowledge and only a tiny tiny speck of practical knowledge. What is also disheartening is that when I started my courses, there were a handful of teachers taking the same ESL courses who were contracted ESL teachers hired on emergency certificate. AT the time of their interviews it is unlikely (although not impossible) that they could have been experienced experts.


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Old 08-15-2009, 03:06 PM
 
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Welllll...I have to say, I don't want to say negative things, but find it a serious neative if you don't know another language, especially the dominant language in the ESL students that you teach. You will, as an ESL teacher, most likely be called on to translate letters home to parents, for P/T conferences, or when phone calls come in. You're an advocte ofr those children, who like I mentioned, for example, get screened for disabilities and sometimes qualify just because they don't have the language skills to understand what they're being asked--they have a right to be tested in their native language on that type of thing, at least where I live. You need to be able to communicate with them.

You other answers are good--purely theorietical, but still pretty well put. HOW would you implement you ample opportunities for exposure? Can you work well with mainstream teachers for the benefit of the student?? Let me know how that interview goes!
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thanks for your help
Old 08-16-2009, 11:28 AM
 
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For most school districts in my area, being bilingual is most definitely not required to be an ESL teacher, even though in many cases it would come in handy. Most districts do not even want to know whether or not you have a "Polite" Spanish repetoire. The reason is that in most of the districts around here, the diversity of first language of the kids is just that - diverse. When I subbed for ESL, I had kids from Somalia, Costa Rica, Scotland, China, and India - all in the same group. The advertisements for the positions rarely, I mean rarely call for a bilingual teacher. Some have even said that they don't want you to know the ELL's first language so as not to be tempted to use it with them (I know I know - you can make a case for and against that theory - whatever). There is a city about 40 miles from me where there is a large Spanish speaking population of ELLs. Even in that district they do not ask for a bilingual teacher and this could be because they are desperate for ESL teachers in that district. Going 40 miles the other way, there is another large Spanish speaking inner city school. In that district they do ask for a Bilingual teacher but I'm pretty sure that district uses a bilingual program.

The multiple exposure would happen as a result of meeting with the classroom teachers (if this is possible because I have heard that in some settings it is not), getting a run-down of the concepts, topics, vocabulary, etc. that they students are being exposed to there, and then spending a few minutes of my own instruction time asking the ELL's to tell me what they know about X, writing the terms and ideas on the board so they can SEE them again in print, or having them write them on the board, and having student-centered, teacher facilitated discussions about these topics.

I have some extensive ell communication-based lesson plans that I came up with, in the format that the school district likes (Learning focused), complete with the state standards that allign to the tasks. I also have samples of differentiated instruction that I did with students when I subbed for ESL as well as examples of lessons that were left by the esl teacher that I extended myself to include communication between students. There's really not much more that I can do at this point except hope that I can get what is in my brain out through my mouth and not allow the interviewer's vibes throw me off track.


Purely theoretical. I guess I cannot moan about this anymore, as every teacher started out with a mainly theoretical starting ground.


Those were some good interview questions you provided. They really made me think and think hard.

I still cannot formalize an answer to the one about what the 4 things are that ESL students should know, so I ask you what do you think about that?

Thanks again.
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Great Answers!
Old 08-17-2009, 06:48 PM
 
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Hermione,

I thought your answers to the interview questions were very thorough and professional! Just by reading your answers I could tell you're very enthusiastic about ESL and a true advocate for ELLs...and that makes you a great candidate already! If you just add a few examples with each question, I think the interview team will be very impressed. I know you're going to do AWESOME...remember, be positive, smile, and think child-centered!

Good luck and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you! Let us know how it went!
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Old 08-17-2009, 08:52 PM
 
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It sounds like you have given a lot of thought to your answers. I think that since you have interviewed for this position before, you may be better prepared this time around.

Good luck!
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