Lights and ACTION

No, no camera here. But most certainly “lights” and lots of “action”!

In our English (as a foreign language) classroom for deaf and hard of hearing students, you will always find the lights on, even on sunny days, so that the students can see my face and hands clearly. In fact, if the day is particularly sunny (which it often is here in Israel!) we close the curtains so that the light won’t cause distorting reflections!

The “action” you will find when you open the door to our classroom might not be what you would expect. This, first of all, has to do with the diversity of the students. The high-school where we are located is a regular school, but the students with a hearing loss come from a very large geographical radius (some leave the house an hour and a half before school starts!) and from the full diversity of different sectors and religions that exist in this country.

The level of English of our students is as diverse as their backgrounds. Remember one-room-schoolhouses? In our classroom you will find students struggling with the difference between “am / is / are” sitting next to students working on 120 word essays in English on the dangers of radiation from Cellular antennas. There is, of course, every possible level in between…

The classroom is set up as a learning centre. Lessons are for 8 – 10 students a time. Every student has their own work plan and we have work stations. There are regular desks where students work in their course books. There is a special table for pair-work with vocabulary flashcards. There is a computer which this year was finally hooked up to the Internet. The whiteboard is also often used as a workstation for one or two students practicing their writing. Each of the 60 students in the program have their own “bag” in large binders to keep their work.

In a learning center there is, naturally, a lot more movement than in a regular lesson. And talk! The modes of communication are as diverse as everything else in our class – some students speak clearly, some are unintelligible. Some students use Israeli Sign Language, other prefer lip reading. We work on reading and writing in English, these students are exempt from listening comprehension and oral sections on exams.

So, if you come our way, please follow the lights and come and see the action in our learning center!

About this Blog Series

At ESL-Library, we’re interested in sharing stories about language teachers who teach in untraditional settings. We also love learning about special challenges, such as Naomi’s experience. I’ve been tweeting with Naomi for a while, but it wasn’t until a recent #ELTChat that I noticed her twitter bio. Then I visited her blog, and found this fascinating description of why she named it “Visualizing Ideas”. When I asked her to write a guest post for ESL-Library she agreed, despite her very busy schedule!  Do you have a story to share? We are looking for guest posts for this series of reflections. Check out our previous post Teaching English at the Circus. Thanks, Naomi! ~Tara

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Naomi Epstein

Naomi Epstein was born in Philadelphia. At the age of eleven she moved to Israel. She received her B.A in Education of the deaf, and went on to do a B.E.D in EFL and an M.A in Curriculum Development. Naomi has published two coursebooks; “Apples and Zebras” (a beginners workbook) and “The Book of Keys” (for weak high-school students). For five days of the week Naomi works at Yehud Comprehensive High-School in Israel teaching English to deaf and hard of hearing students."On the sixth day I’m a “Shema” national counselor, mainly for teachers of pupils who are mainstreamed. And on the seventh day, I rest!"   Website:   Twitter: @naomishema