October 2014 E-News from Elizabeth Claire
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Contents of this E-NEWS
A Reminder about Culture Shock
New students are more than likely going through many aspects of culture shock. Shock is the body's complex physical reactions to changes in the environment. Culture shock can take many forms and seemingly opposite forms: Anxiety, sleeplessness, sleepiness, loss of appetite, over-eating, loss of self-esteem, fearfulness..
...so much has to go on while the brain is remapping expectations, manners, social position, school rules, family disruptions, economic changes, the maps of where to find things; finding a job or learning one's schedule, climate differences, the pace of life, and the mountainous task of learning to function with new words, new system of grammar, new coins and bills and their values, new foods and ways to shop, new clothing sizes, new rules of the road when driving or walking, and a myriad new things to think about.
There may be euphoria at first from having arrived in the country of their dreams...followed by depression or anxiety that can go on for many months or years. Disappointments, family economics not improved, prejudice, discrimination.
People need more sleep during the culture shock period. Some children may resent having to learn a new language and go into language resistance. Others are eager to learn, but dread making mistakes, so go into a silent period that may last many months. Anxiety at many challenges that school brings, especially in the unsheltered classrooms, lunch time, playground time, passing through the halls. It doesn't take much to trigger upset with some children...thoughtless laughter at their attempts at English, insults, or the day long, day-after-day lack of comprehension of what is going on around them.
I have seen children pull hair out until they had bald spots; children with daily stomach aches, throwing up or losing bowel control; children behaving in ways that seem indicative of mental illness or delinquency...
Our jobs as ESL teachers includes therapeutic actions as well as language teaching: A sheltered ESL classroom for beginners works wonders...lessons easy enough for success works wonders, with the gradual building in of challenges...engineering friendships works wonders...training classroom teachers in the social integration of the newcomers, and techniques for more hands-on and visual presentations of lessons helps. Buddies help. Monitors to help during lunch time and outdoor play help.
In addition, some attention to the English speaking school body as well as teachers can help...explain culture shock, good manners in greeting and avoiding laughing...and especially avoid the annoying "Speak English!" that a few teachers and principals thoughtlessly call out to children speaking in their native language on the playground or in the hall...they would if they could....and they can't if they don't have enough English to speak. It doesn't help to create that additional anxiety, and shuts children down...self-expression is a right, protected by the Constitution. Admonitions to "speak English" are fine when in a classroom where the teacher is sure the student has the capacity to express him or herself in English, and the listener has the capacity to understand the English.
While it may be easy to assign a bilingual buddy for a Hispanic child when there are many Spanish speakers in the building, keep some things in mind: same gender will work better than matching male and female as buddies...the buddy with just a year or two's experience in school may still be struggling with English, and shouldn't be required to miss any lessons or be translating during classes. Have a committee of buddies.
For new children who don't have a language-mate in the classroom, check your school census of other-language-in-the-home students to locate a child who has the same native language and arrange for the new child to speak with that child to get questions answered for a few minutes a day.
For children for whom there is no same-language buddy, the sense of isolation is intense. In addition to English-speaking buddies, find a volunteer in the community who can come in once a week to answer the child's questions and explain what is going on. Get more tips from Classroom Teacher's ESL Survival Guide. Click here.
Thank you! If you haven't been heard, you can email your suggestions for improvement to me at ESL@elizabethclaire.com
Contents of Easy English NEWS for October 2014
Front page: Mid-term Elections What are: the House of Representatives, Senate.
Life in the U.S.A. "A Nation of Laws" Levels of government and some important categories of laws
Events in October covered in Easy English NEWS:
AThe New Islamic State: Map and some details
- Columbus Day
- The Voyage that Changed the World
- Hispanic-Heritage Month
- United Nations Birthday
- Eclipse of the Moon; Eclipse of the Sun
Ask a Speech Coach: Improving volume, power, and confidence
America the Beautiful: "Music City": Nashville, Tennessee
Register to Vote
Plus our regular features:This Is Your Page (readers' stories), Funny Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.
PLUS PLUS: Free at my website: 16 pages of self-correcting tests for the current issue of Easy English NEWS.
If you didn't get your Teacher's Guide for October, its available at my website.
FREE 24-page generic "How To Use Easy English NEWS in Your ESL Classroom" with 9 reproducible graphic organizers.
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Materials for ESL and Reading Teachers at my website:
- Your Health by Dr. Majid Ali An E-Book of 31 reproducible easy English articles with word help from past columns of Your Health by Dr. Ali, $10.
- Treasure Chest 1, a potpourri of reproducible games, songs, and useful stuff is also $10. Check them out.
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Carry on your good work!
© Elizabeth Claire 2014.