esl




I chose to do my observation on a small (12 students) elementary ESL class. The students in this class ranged from second grade up to fifth grade and all are fairly fluent in English, but come from homes that use Spanish as the primary language. The day began with a rehearsal of a play this class will be performing for the first graders. This play calls for the children to read, understand, and memorize the parts of such characters as the narrator, a donkey, cat, rooster, robbers, police, dog, and pigs. By doing this they have been exposed to many animals and have done an enormous amount of authentic learning just through their own personal experiences. Each of the twelve children was given the script and they went through the play working on the memorization of the lines and pronunciation of the words. I was impressed with the number of students who had their entire part memorized and who could easily read and recite the English words in perfect sentences. After going through the play three times the class moved onto a singing activity that they did together. This included reading the words to the songs Loud Blows the Wind, My True Blue Buddy, and Lots and Lots of Stars via a large book in front of the class. Mrs. Campbell then called on a few to read the song individually as another used the pointer to follow along. Once confident with the words and meaning of the song they would put it to music and the whole class would sing the song together at the top of their lungs. Through the singing of these songs the students were

using a variety of everyday words along with different descriptive words, and most animals/foods imaginable. They were gaining experience in reading, widening their vocabulary, practicing their sounds and having a great time all in one exercise. The student to student interaction was amazing and the teacher did a great job of facilitating the class as they discovered and used different English words in their speaking. It was great to be able to witness such a productive and fun activity. Everybody was singing, laughing, and learning, after all that’s what schools about.

Upon entering the classroom there were a couple of things that immediately caught my attention. First, I was expecting a class of mixed ethnic groups with maybe a couple languages being used, the majority being Hispanic; however, the class was in fact all Hispanic except for the teacher who was Asian. It was interesting to see how closely tied this class was. It seemed, as though the children were all best friends with the teacher their fearless leader that they looked up to. This provided a very unthreading environment where even the shyest could feel comfortable and enjoy the learning and laughing that was going on. An environment of this type is important in helping to build self –esteem and the confidence that will lead to a faster learning of the language. Second, was Mrs. Campbell effective use of positive reinforcement as well as other techniques to encourage and reward the class. Her students had plenty of opportunity to produce language and she gives valuable feedback when necessary. Her teaching philosophy is clearly in line with the communicative language model of teaching and she agrees with the book in that “language is created by the individual often through trial and error”, and that “fluency and acceptable language is the primary goal”. Her classroom places an emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language and she adds to the fun by using songs and plays. It was nice to see a textbook example of a perfect classroom.

It is hard to gain a full sense of everything that Mrs. Campbell does in just a few short hours however, from what I could tell she is a very competent teacher who knows how to bring a new language into effect while at the same time providing a good learning environment for her students. Judging from the two hours that I spent with the class I don’t think that I would make any drastic changes if I were the teacher. Instead I can look at Mrs. Campbell and appreciate