December 4, 2017 2:08 PM
For the past three years, the international students in Mr. Chris Ferry's English Language Development (ELD) communication class have visited the elementary students during International Education Week to share about their home culture. This year, the students worked on the speaking and reading skills by reading books to each other. Mr. Ferry shares his thoughts here on the book reading exchange.
Q: How and why do you bring the international students to the elementary school?
A: We've been doing a variety of activities with the elementary students for the past three school years for several reasons. First, we hope to build a stronger community where students know and work well together across grade levels. Second, having a real audience and authentic interaction is very helpful for our ELD students to develop their English proficiency. Third, it's valuable for our youngest students in Elementary school to learn about foreign cultures directly from our international students. Fourth, International Student Coordinator Stephanie Toriumi has been hard at work to make our community more globally minded and these exchanges developed from working closely with the ELD teachers and Elementary School Principal Edna Hussey.
Q: How was the book reading exchange organized?
A: For this specific book reading activity, high school ELD students spent about 2 hours preparing. They practiced reading the story in their own language with tips to become a better storyteller. They used their iPads to create a vocabulary presentation to teach a few words in their native language. The elementary school students chose a book that they wanted to share with the international student. When they met, the students had roughly 8 minutes to teach the vocabulary, read the story and answer any followup questions. After that, the local elementary student had about 5 minutes to read a story to the ELD student and do any follow-up discussion.
Q: What are some of the benefits of the interaction between elementary and international students?
A: We are observing, first and foremost, the quality of their interaction with the elementary school student. Are our ELD students comfortable opening a conversation? Can they ask questions comfortably? Can they rephrase what they are saying if the elementary student doesn't understand? Secondly, are they good storytellers? Third, are they good at listening and comprehending the story told to them by the elementary student. Finally, when they write a reflection, how do they feel about interacting in English with children. Since the international students have visited the elementary school a few times before to share about their cultural background, they remember the international students and it helps students on both sides to develop a stronger connection. Through this connection, the elementary teachers are able to incorporate international themes into their curriculum, which helps promote the students' interest and curiosity.