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One of the most effective techniques to communicate with non-English speaking students, or with students who may be within the Pre-Production stage of Language Acquisition, is demonstrating for the student what we are trying to communicate while we convey the information orally. For example: If a new student arrives to your class not knowing a word of English, tell him/her what to do, one set of instructions at a time, speaking clearly, slowly and succinctly, WHILE YOU OR ANOTHER STUDENT DEMONSTRATES exactly what to do!!! Tell the student, "Please, sit down here." Demonstrate for the student by sitting in the correct place. Tell the student, "Copy the words on the board." Demonstrate by beginning to write the words on the student’s paper.

Demonstrations are the only way to teach and learn very complex skills and concepts. Surgeons, lawyers, dentists and most other professionals learn to perform the very skilled practices of their professions through demonstrations. We forget many times that, as infants and young children, we only learned through demonstrations that our parents, older siblings, relatives and friends provided for us. In fact, our learning was measured by our proficiency in demonstrating for others what we had learned through demonstrations.

In my opinion, we can only learn to teach and learn the practices we employ in "teaching" through demonstrations. Knowledge, concepts, key ideas are the bases for demonstrations. But if we cannot perceive the key concepts, ideas and knowledge in the demonstrations, we do not understand the concepts or the ideas or the knowledge.

Eventually, you can assign one or several students in your class the task of demonstrating, while orally communicating, all the required directions and tasks needed to function in your classroom. A student could become the "new student" monitor or helper. At all times during teaching and interacting with students, for new students in particular, non-English speaking or English speaking new students to your class, however, be ready to demonstrate!!!!

 

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