Student teachers learn about challenges faced by young, non-English speaking students

Student teachers learn about challenges faced by young, non-English speaking students

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Several middle and high school students shared their experiences with coming to the United States, learning the English language, and adjusting to a new culture with Lycoming College’s student teachers in mid-November.

Members of the panel included Fei, a 10th grade student from China living in the U.S. for about five months; Nilson, a 7th grader from El Salvador living in the U.S. for about 7 months; and Christian, an 11th grader from Venezuela living in the U.S. for about eight years. (From left to right in the front in the photo.)

The students discussed the techniques and approaches that were most helpful when starting in the U.S. school system, the greatest challenges they faced in school and in the community, and what they miss most about their home countries.

“Learning how an English language learner transitions into an English-speaking school system was eye-opening,” said Kasey Uppling, a student teacher in Lycoming’s Education program. “I learned how valuable something so simple as daily conversation between the teacher and a student who doesn’t speak the language well can truly be.”

Another student teacher, Taylor Kendra, agreed the discussion was helpful. “It was interesting to see that, although they may not be able to put the answer into words, they had understood the question. It was also great to break down the barriers that language can put up and just see each other as people by swapping stories and jokes during our dinner together.”

“They gave us some great tips as well as what worked/works best for them. I will try to relate what I’ve learned to improve my teaching strategies with English language learners in the future,” said Casey Maguire, another student teacher who attended the meeting.

Accompanying the students were Sam, a Lycoming College sophomore from China who helped with translating for Fei (back left in photo), and Jody Lantz, an English instructor for international students at Lycoming College who organized the event (back right).

Ms. Lantz also serves as the Executive Director and ESL Instructor for Thrive International Programs, a community-based outreach program with the goal of welcoming and supporting international people living in our community. Ms. Lantz earned her B.S.W. from Eastern University, her M.A. TESOL from Biola University, and has taught English language learners since 1994, both in the U.S. and Thailand.

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