English Language Learners

           This past May 2012 we had the privilege to hear about one of our member’s most current works with English language learners in Guadalajara, Mexico. Sam Smiley shared her experience in Guadalajara through pictures of the areas she stayed in and worked in. She provided a brief history of Mexico, denoting the stereotypes that many Americans hold true towards Mexico. She displayed a map of the vast land Mexico contains and offered much cultural, social, and economic history of the land.

            During this meeting Professor Smiley shared her main experience through the ITTO TEFL Class offered in Guadalajara, Mexico. The mains points discussed within the meeting were the themes of critical pedagogy she was challenged with during her time abroad. She was asked not to use her student’s primary language as a way to educating them towards the English language. Professor Smiley shared how she was able to use her brief understanding of the Spanish language to live in Mexico for a month. However, she was frowned upon or even scolded when she used it within the classroom.

            The question examined within this meeting was whether the use of L1 (the student’s primary language) should be used within the classroom when the student is learning a second language (L2). Professor Smiley’s viewpoint was discovered during her experience as a teacher. The students she was teaching were learning English to gain employment, an education, or to travel. The basic communication of the English Language was necessary but an understanding of the linguistics was not. The students needed to be able to function in everyday life, such as Professor Smiley did during her month away. Therefore, Professor Smiley found it appropriate to use L1 as a last resort.

            The students were provided multiple tools, visuals, videos, etc., to help them further their understanding of the English language. However, using L1 was the last resort. Professor Smiley also shared her experience of incorporating the arts into her classroom. She discussed her integration of American pop music within the classroom.

            Lastly, the meeting ended with an anonymous vote that any teacher who teaches a second language should be required, and provided a grant, to do an immersion for at least a week in the country that hosts the language they will be teaching. Therefore, the teacher can apply what they have learned from their host country. The culture and empathy developed during their time aboard can go further in the classroom and in their teaching styles.

            Below is the website for the program Sam Smiley attended. Please take the opportunity to look at its benefits and share our new knowledge within our community.


Published in: on November 9, 2012 at 10:57 am  Comments (30)  

30 CommentsLeave a comment

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