If you teach ESL to university-bound adults, you already know that it’s not just ESL. You’re teaching culture. Maybe it’s the importance of being on time. Maybe it’s explaining that we prefer to blow our noses rather than sharply inhaling, repeatedly, throughout class. Why don’t we teach them how to have a conversation about grades? Aren’t we all more than a little tired of the begging for grades?
- I need extra credit.
- Give me one more chance, again.
- I have to make an A.
- You have to extend the deadline.
International Students Need More than Grammar Lessons
You’ve probably accompanied someone to the bank to help set up an account. You’ve listened to voice messages and then “translated” them for your students. We do it all, help set up medical appointments, and explain notes from their kids’ teachers. Adult ESL teachers demonstrate how to use a washing machine, share our favorite grocery stores, recommend the mechanic we trust, and probably meet up with students at some point after class. It’s not just English. We’re also getting them ready for university life–which is often extremely different from university life in their own countries.
If They’re Always Begging for Grades, Teach Expectations FIRST
Elementary school teachers make a big deal out of teaching expectations for a good reason–those expectations don’t magically get learned! When teaching adults in an Intensive English Program, you will engage with people of all sorts of educational and cultural backgrounds. They are going to deal with you in the manner that has worked for them in the past, how their compatriots do things in their own countries. If it’s not going to work here, you need to let them know AND help them learn what WILL work.
The self-entitled demands that just never ended used to frustrate me. (self-entitled as viewed through my own cultural bias) Eventually I realized I had to teach them how to get what they wanted in a culturally appropriate way. That is, what would be considered culturally appropriate in the NEW culture that they now live in and must manage to find success in. I’m the teacher, and not just an ESL teacher.
Give me something I can use now!
To do this, I created a couple of highly-scripted role plays. These role plays guided students into realizing what would help them achieve their goal AND what would be best left unsaid. Many of my classes have had a lot of fun with these. They enjoy hamming it up and making it even more outrageous, but they also use what they learn–not just with me but also with their other teachers. I know because I’ve heard them and because they’ve reported back to me, triumphantly, of their success. Grab these role plays now!
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