Sunday, August 04, 2013
Teaching New Americans In Summer School. It's A Pleasure.
I must admit I wasn't looking forward to teaching high school science to recently arrived students to the country. Most of them had limited English language skills and some none at all! My students come from many countries, Spain, Ecuador, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Greece, Russia, Korea, Burma, and China. The few students who speak passable English help the students by translating what I say and I have put them in groups to help their transition to an American education. One of the most important lesson that I have learned is how eager these students are to read and speak English to me. In the almost one month that I have had them, all of the students will read a sentence to me in English and try to answer questions in English. To tell the truth, I am very impressed with their efforts and proud of their progress.
I also would like to point out that these "new to America" students are well disciplined with no serious behavior issues, despite struggling with the English language. Moreover, they meet me at the door with smiles and greetings when they enter the classroom and many seemed generally happy to be in school. Despite our language differences we have connected and I get little presents like Chinese tea, a Jello snack, or a candy bar, no, no apples, from the students as their way of saying thank you. To the Tweedies, nothing over $2!
The appreciation goes both ways as I will do anything reasonably possible for these students to navigate their way in New York City's confusing maze of regulations. I find myself as a tour guide on how the students can take a subway to their various consulates in Manhattan and to the immigration offices downtown or what they must do to work. Furthermore, I have gained their trust and respect and when they are having issues or uncertainties with their situation (homesickness is common), they confide in me and I try to reassure them that in a couple of years they will be fluent in English and become a productive citizen of this great country. It seems to work as their frawn becomes a smile and they seem to try even harder to please me.
Teaching "new to America" students has been a real pleasure and I hope I get that chance again to make a difference to those students entering the New York City school system since we both learn a great many things being in a classroom together.