One Sunflower

noise tolerance

on February 28, 2012

I have a high tolerance for noise in my classroom – which is necessary.  About 75% of my students are second language learners.  Some come to school with a bit of English learned from older siblings, parents and T.V.  Some come with no English at all.  So I want to hear a lot of talking in my classroom and I love seeing how the power of “talk” teaches in my classroom.

I have one student who copies everything I say all the time.  It is like hearing an interpreter next to me except she is saying exactly what I’m saying just seconds after I say it.  I have to be careful not to giggle.

I have another student who is just beginning to understand my requests and is finally gesturing  to communicate.  The other day he sat down next to me and another student and pointed to the game we were playing and then to himself as an indication he wanted to play.

My personal experience with learning a second language is fairly limited. I took 4 years of French in high school.  I can understand most of what I read in French and I catch the meaning of lyrics in the songs I listen to on Canadian radio stations but I only speak the most elementary of phrases.

In 1981, I spent 2 months in Tonga with the Peace Corps. We went through intense language training.  Our mornings were spent learning about how this Polynesian language is constructed, the phonics of the letter sounds and some practical phrases.  Then we were sent into the local village with the assignment to buy lunch and then the food we would cook for dinner.  Being forced to converse every day helped me learn to speak  more Tongan in two months than I ever learned to say out loud in French.  But I’m not sure I could read it or understand a song.

“Use it to learn it” is my philosophy with my students. I am describing things and modeling asking and answering questions always using both common and interesting vocabulary.  It is more like talking to one year olds – but that is because  most of my students are like toddlers in their language acquisition.  I have native English speakers in my classroom as well so I’m always working to boost their vocabulary as well.

A core part of my curriculum is about using and exploring words and sentence structure but sometimes it is hard for my students and me to find a balance between listening and talking.

The March Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers begins in two days!   I’ll be using my other blog to write every day –  support other writers at TWT!

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3 responses to “noise tolerance

  1. Juliann says:

    When I was teaching, I would have my classroom door open but noticed that everyone else had their closed – the noise from my class was too much! I love walking into a noisy classroom – at least during choice time – it tells me kids are doing what we want them to do – connecting.

  2. Donna Smith says:

    I love the “repeater”! What a great way to learn! And how wonderful you can tolerate it and giggle inside. The buzz of the classroom is like the engine of a car to me. If it isn’t humming, it isn’t working!

  3. Elsie says:

    I love that you want the sounds of language in your class! That is the best way to develop language. Your class sounds like a joyful place!

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