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Brianna Smith

Dr. Monsour
ED 227 English Language Learners
April 15, 2016
Observational Interview with Mrs. Chuey
For my interview with an ELL student, teacher, or parent, I chose
to interview Mrs. Kimberly Chuey, an ELS teacher who works for the
Intermediate Unit at both St. Patricks in Canonsburg and South Central
Elementary School in the Canon McMillan School District. . Our
interview took place earlier today, on 4/15/16. Below are some of the
specific and in-depth questions that I had the opportunity to ask Mrs.
Chuey regarding her experiences with ELL students.
1. What are some of the aspects that you see your students
struggling with the most when moving into a completely new
setting and school, while knowing little to nothing about the
native language?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: You know, they really struggle with the
whole cafeteria experience. For one, they are not used to eating the
food itself. Americanized school lunches are usually nothing like
anything that these children would have been eating in their native
country. It takes a lot of time for children to get used to something like
that. Also, of course, you can see that cultural barrier that happens in
the cafeteria, or during other free time throughout the day. Socializing

is hard for a child who has no way of communicating like his or her
peers. I love being able to see how far they come from that though.
Eventually they work their way into the new setting, and make friends,
socialize, and seem more all around happy. Its just a matter of getting
to that point.
2. As their teacher, what are some of the aspects that you struggle
with the most when getting a new student from a new country
who knows little to no English, or anything about our culture?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: One of my personal struggles that I notice
with this whole program, is getting some of the general education
teachers on board. A lot of them tend to panic when they get an ELL in
their classroom, or are not all that understanding when it comes to
getting this student the assistance that they need. I personally would
just like to make sure that they know that it is okay that this student is
different, and may not know English. Were not all supposed to be the
same, and we will work on the English to get that child where they
need to be!
3. Is there anything that you do to specifically incorporate the
families of your students, or to get them more involved in their
childs learning and the process of learning English?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: Yes! We frequently have family parties for
our parents. One thing that I see a lot actually is that a lot of my
moms are isolated when coming here to the U.S. Usually their

husbands are business men and coming over here for a job
opportunity and already know or are learning English, their children
are going to a new school and making new friends while they get
the supports they need, but what happens with them? Theyre in a
new home, in a new country, and everyone in their family is getting
out and doing things except for them. When mothers start coming
to our meetings or family parties they are usually very quiet,
reserved, and seem to be pretty dependent on others making
choices and talking for them. Once they get used to it though, and
we make them feel more comfortable, they love it! Theyll come in
and have great ideas and input, theyll socialize with each other,
and even better, we can then convince a lot of them into taking
some of the adult English classes offered.
4. Do you find it more or less difficult when working with students
based on their proficiency level?
- Mrs. Chuey's Response: I personally find it easiest to work with
younger students with the lowest proficiency levels. I like when
they come in knowing little to no English and we can just start off
fresh. It seems that they catch on better with the academic English
that way, and they struggle less with proper pronunciation, writing,
reading, etc. This way we arent going back and fixing anything. We
are just working on entirely new information together.

5. What all goes into accepting students into the programs offered
by the Intermediate Unit, or how are they tested in?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: When all ELLs first come in they receive a
Home Language Survey to see where they are. Then there are rounds 1
and 2 of testing Round 1 sees where they are with proficiency. And if
they are low scoring my supervisor then tests them for round 2.
Typically students spend 3 years in the program, but some older
students may be involved longer. Each year in the program stundets
also take the Access test in February to see how far they have come
and if they can test out and exit the program, exiting is like graduating
for them. Typically these access test take about 5 hours for each
student to complete.
6. Is there anything in specific that you do to incorporate or work
with the different cultural aspects of each student?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: Of course! In the classroom, I like to try and
bring up everyones different backgrounds as much as possible, child
permitting. One think that I have come to learn, is that most children
are willing and proud to talk about their heritage, but some are not.
Thats one thing you have to be sure of before making a child talk
about their home country. If they are shy or even embarrassed, you do
not want to bring attention to that. However, we make a lot of
comparisons when talking, of how things in the U.S. are the same or
different from in their country. One example would be that some of my

students from Asian or even Middle Eastern cultures are not familiar
with napkins or washcloths when they come here, because those two
dad-to-day items are not prevalent in their countries. Thats a
conversation starter to talking about whats the same and whats
different.
7. Is there anything that you try to do to help your students
emotionally, aside from teaching them all of the academic
aspects of English when in the classroom?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: One of the things that I want my students to
be able to do is to not only be accepting of their own culture, but also
of each others. As I mentioned before, we do a lot of sharing and
comparing of cultures during class time. It helps a student more in the
long run if they can be completely comfortable with who they are and
accepting of the fact that we are all different and unique.
8. What are some of the effective teaching strategies that you
have found work best with your students?
Mrs. Chueys Response: Well, not all of my stundets are the same or
learn the same, so different strategies work better with some than they
do others. For example, with some of my younger students, as you saw
earlier this morning, picture cards, and making learning fun works well.
If they all are just focused on the fact that we are playing a vocabulary
game, its easy to forget your actually learning, and studying new
terminology. For some of my older kids like O--- reading, deciphering

the text, and using graphic organizers or note cards to sort out
information works a lot better. It just depends on the student.
9. When it comes to assessment, do you make adapted or
mortified tests and assessments for your students, or do they
receive the same tests and exams as their English-speaking
peers?
- Mrs. Chueys Response: Well, since this is more of a pullout program,
where I dont have these students all day, they do receive the same
assessments as their peers. However, their homeroom teachers usually
wait and allow them to take tests with me so that I can assist them and
make any necessary changes or adjustments. Also, anything that I
teach them in here, that is separate from what they are learning in the
general education classrooms, I obviously will have my own
assessments made, that I know will meet all of their needs.
10.

What is your favorite part of being an ELL/ESL teacher, or

what makes your career rewarding?


- Mrs. Chueys Response: I love seeing the growth of my students. Its
one thing to have students each year as a general education teacher,
and know that they have met the requirements and can move on to
the next grade, but a lot of my kids come in here knowing nothing in
English, or about this new culture. Being able to see them talk with
their friends, do well in the classroom, and overall fit in is huge. I love
seeing the difference of the shy, and scared child coming ino my room,

to the now fluent, and happy 4th grader that can sit with their friends at
lunch, play all of the same games, and eventually spend less time
isolated and with me. Its not sad when they all have to leave me. Im
proud of them, and all that they have done.

Reflection:
I absolutely adored spending the day with Mrs. Chuey. There are
some things that I was able to learn from watching her with her
students and being able to ask her a few questions, that I could not
have learned out of a text book, or by just learning about English
Language Learners in a course. Getting to spend time with an ESL
teacher and seeing just how she went about her day with her children
was truly interesting to me.
First off the genuine care and time that Mrs. Chuey puts into
each and every one of her students is wonderful. One point that she
made very clear throughout the day and our interview is how accepting
you have to be overall. Its a delicate process to deal with and teach
ELLs day in and day out. You have to account for their families and
what they are going through, what the child is going through, whether
or not they are comfortable discussing their home country, and so
much more. This all needs to be taken into account when teaching
both social and academic English, as well as when assessing, or trying

to get your students to be comfortable around their peers and


teachers.
Also, while spending time talking with and watching Mrs. Chuey,
it was interesting to see and hear about some of the instructional
strategies that we have covered and learned about in this course. It
just goes to show, in real settings, just how effective and useful some
of these strategies can be. I saw her using TPR when reading, using
visuals and picture cards, crating Graphic Organizers and Character
cards with students, and so much more.
Overall, My experience with Mrs. Chuey and getting to interview
her was very positive, and informative. I feel like after getting to know
a little bit more about her role as an ESL educator, her students, and
the Intermediate Unit, this is some thing that I may be interested in
sometime in my career. Getting my certification in ESL/ELL could be a
very rewarding and rich experience.