To evaluate and elaborate thefocal point of this study, two classes that use English as the secondlanguage (ESL) were assessed. The first one was a CARIBE beginnerclass for refugees that had two registered students. Unfortunately,one was absent, and therefore, the class was left with only oneparticipant from Iraq with an approximate age of about sixty years.The above program is a free English language instructions conveyed tothe recent refugees to improve their English Language proficiency.These classes are offered in different places, and I attended someclasses at the Islamic Center of Tampa Bay Area. The second class wasthe “Academic Interactions 2’ for beginner students whichcomposed of students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Japan, SouthKorea, and Turkey. The primary purpose of observing those two classeswas to focus on how the teacher would simplify the language tobeginners and finding easier ways other than the use of non-verbalcommunication to convey information.
The CARIBE class was alow-beginner ESL class. There was only one student, and I expected asimple one-to-one teaching session, but this was never the case. Thetutor stood in front of the class, demonstrating and explainingeverything as if it was a completely occupied class. The student’slevel of skill and comprehensibility was a bit low, so the teacherput lots of effort in explaining and repeating many points to her,using non-verbal communication and sometimes paraphrasing sentencesto ensure the student understood each step she took. The teacher wasnot conversant with speaking Arabic, but she has told me that sheknows Arabic. It made me think she kept pushing the students to learnlanguage and practice.
One of the major things that Inoticed was that students who started learning English without anybackground knowledge required a lot of practice through emphasis andrepetition of the words for them to perceive and comprehend the wordswith time. The teacher had to repeat every single structure in thatclass more than twice, because, the student would repeat after herwithout recognizing that it was either a question or an imperative.The teacher had to paraphrase sentences to drive the message to thestudent.
Teacher: fill the gap with yourdate of birth.
Student: Date of birth
Teacher: yes, your date of birth.
Student: Date of birth. (Theteacher realized that the student did not get the point)
The teacher wrote her date ofbirth on the whiteboard, and said, “This is my date of birth, whatis yours?”
Student: My number and she wroteher cell phone number in the gap.
Teacher: No, when you were born?I am 52 years old (teacher pointed at the gray hair in her head. Iwas born on July 2, 1962 you are? (Then pointed to the student)
Student: Six… Five
Student: Sixty-five then shewrote her date of birth in the gap.
When the teacher realizedthat the student did not get the point, she applied differenttechniques in order to convey the message, she demonstrated usingherself by writing her date of birth, then she explained it withnon-verbal language by pointing to her grey hair to clarify how thisquestion is related to age, then paraphrased the question again untilthe student got it.
The other class that Iobserved was Academic Interaction 2. The level of the learners`proficiency was higher than what I expected. They were constructingcomplete sentences and epitomized a quite high level of command. Thisclass was scheduled at 8 a.m. Students needed an interactiveactivity, and that happened when the teacher asked the whole class tostand and play crossfire activity. She listed a set of words on theboard. She gave them names, and they were required to give her asynonym from the list, the student who got it right was guaranteed anaward together with the neighbor beside or along them in the rows andcolumns respectively.
Teacher: youcan choose either a row or a column.
Student: (did not reply, showingthat he did not understand)
Teacher: Youhave to choose on which row and column you want toseat(she used her hands to explain row and column)
Teacher: Rowis a line like this and column is a line like this.(Drew two lines on the board)
The teacher paraphrasedthe sentence thinking that the structure was the problem then sherealized that the two words “column and row” was the obstacle totheir understanding and she then explain it visually by symbolcommunication and drew it on the board with the lines.
It was apparently noticed withinthese two classes that the teachers applied a lot of techniques suchnon-verbal communication and paraphrasing sentences to convey themessage. Much of the meaning students drive from non-verbalcommunication with the help of paraphrasing especially when it comesto the small level of proficiency.
Levenson, E. (1979). Second Language Lexical Acquiscituion Issues and problems. Interlanguage Studies Bulettin, 147-160.