Training Approaches for English Language Learners

Description: Guiding English language learners through computer and Internet use has distinct challenges. Join Rolando for a discussion on training models and strategies, what works and what does not.  Remember how by highlighting this session below!


Time: Monday 11:30-12:30


Location: Roxy Room


Facilitator: Rolando Garcci, Manatee Education Foundation; Carmen Patterson, Manatee Education Foundation, CYC Corp Member


Session Outline:

Topics and/or Questions:
Spanish language idiom idiosyncrasies:
a) North American Spanish (Mexico)
b) Central American Spanish (Panama, El Salvador, etc).
c) South American Spanish, (Colombia, Chile, Argentina, etc).

Awareness of educational levels.
Educational Levels:
a) Broad range of education: Elementary school level to University level.
b) Cosmopolitan exposure VS Rural exposure, advantages/challenges.
e) Caribbean French/Creole and Portuguese speakers, similarities and differences.

Cultural awareness and sensibilities.
a) Teacher/Instructor - Student interaction/volunteers.
c) Student Comfort levels in class room, ISP terminology: Technology (internet, broadband) Keyboard/Typing Basics, Mouse use.
d) Student class participation and involvement. Eager to help.
e) Technology Exposure: Do not assume they don't know. Native Spanish speaking students tend to be "shy" due to language barriers.






Rolando: we would like to discuss some of the idiosyncrasies that we encounter when we work on technology with non-English speakers.


- In our particular situation in Florida, we have a large Mexican population as well as a large Creole population. The key I have found is that when you greet people with a smile, you receive a positive response. In order to get someone to listen / respond to you, is that you give them a smile and behave warmly.


- Also, you cannot make any assumptions with the non-English speaking community. There are folks with all sorts of skill-sets and professions and often times the main barrier they're facing is a lack of English skills but they are a member of an advanced profession in their native country.


Carmen: many of non-English speakers are intimidated by technology and the challenges it represents. They are often nervous about interacting with computers and technology. Simply empowering them to turn on a computer can make a major difference in their lives.


Rolando: many of these newly arrived Americans are very hungry about what opportunities exist - how they can access information - how they can learn technology in English. They want to gain these skills.


Carmen: one of the things that has helped our classes a lot is the group dynamic. It creates a sense of comfort and partnership between the students. I teach them the basics of technology and the Internet and try to provide some easy access points for web services. I then find that trainees / students often come back for the more advanced lessons, such as Skype, purchasing items online, etc.


Rolando: it is very important to create a sense of community for the trainees. Have food, have dinner, have something to make them feel connected to the work and other individuals learning. Make the skills they are going to learn more meaningful - what is the value of email? What is the value of being able to type, access the Internet, search for jobs. etc.


Rolando: in a Spanish speaking classroom, you will see that the instructor garners a lot of respect - this admiration is important and can be used to create a connection between instructor and student to better learn the content. Breaking the barriers between student and trainer is the most essential aspect of technology training.


Audience Comment: I find that congratulating the students for coming to the class from the on-set is really important. I then say, no one is allowed to say "I can't do this." I then ask them to go to the Internet and find their home country - this creates some familiarity and comfort for the students. I also ask the ladies / men to find recipes of food dishes they may want to cook. You have to create some basic interests.


Audience Comment: It seems that the tactics being described for teaching English Language Learners are basic skill-sets for teaching almost anything. Are there approaches used for teaching new languages that we can adopt for the teaching of digital skills?


Rolando: Yes, I think the basics are applicable across the board - remain warm, welcoming and communicative. Place a hand on their shoulder - be friendly.


Audience Comment: What are some of the methods we can use to encourage those who have uncertain legal status in the U.S. to be comfortable with the Internet & providing information?


Rolando: It's a challenge - there is that barrier for the immigrant community to give up their information. You just have to continue to communicate that you are not interested in their legal status and that they cannot receive Internet sign-up without an address / an I.D. etc.


Audience Comment: What are the resources available for consumers to go to electronics stores and navigate without complete English skills? How can empower English Language Learners to be savvy consumers in an English only environment?


Audience Comment: What are some sources on the Internet to connect English Language Learners with media / content that is in their native language? Finding those resources really helps build that class morale and the relevancy to the materials being introduced.


Audience Comment: I try to use / / to find music, videos, and other content in their native language and it makes the classroom and the learning fun for the students.


Rolando: I find the classic marketing techniques work - go to where your students live / where they work - make postings there and send out the information in the relevant areas.


Audience Comment: we tried to place mailings in the communication that went out by Department of Education notes sent to families with grades and other school information.