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Help! Any ideas for helping students through post 16 Chemistry?!

Discussion in 'Science' started by dazed1, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. I could really do with some help here. I am a relatively new teacher (2 yrs out of NQT), teaching Science in Spain, to Spanish pupils in English using the Spanish cirriculum. Confused yet?!
    I´ve hit a real stumbling block. I teach the equivalent of AS-level Chemistry to 18 pupils with varying levels of English. We have only one lesson a week (?!) and it is 1 hr 40 mins long. The lesson cannot be altered although I have tried. This class is failing. I have no idea what to do to with them and as this is a very new school there is no-one with experience for me to turn to. However on here......... [​IMG]
    The main issues I think I am coming across right now are:
    • Confusing models ( ie not knowing when to pick the correct model for the question)
    • Not using correct full mark phrases and key vocabulary when answering questions
    • Not being able to relate to 3D structures.
    I don´t think these issues are only related to the pupils not being native English speakers and I was hoping that some of you have techniques or know of some resourcs to overcome this.
    Thanks



     
  2. I could really do with some help here. I am a relatively new teacher (2 yrs out of NQT), teaching Science in Spain, to Spanish pupils in English using the Spanish cirriculum. Confused yet?!
    I´ve hit a real stumbling block. I teach the equivalent of AS-level Chemistry to 18 pupils with varying levels of English. We have only one lesson a week (?!) and it is 1 hr 40 mins long. The lesson cannot be altered although I have tried. This class is failing. I have no idea what to do to with them and as this is a very new school there is no-one with experience for me to turn to. However on here......... [​IMG]
    The main issues I think I am coming across right now are:
    • Confusing models ( ie not knowing when to pick the correct model for the question)
    • Not using correct full mark phrases and key vocabulary when answering questions
    • Not being able to relate to 3D structures.
    I don´t think these issues are only related to the pupils not being native English speakers and I was hoping that some of you have techniques or know of some resourcs to overcome this.
    Thanks



     
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It sounds interesting - doing science in a foreign language.
    Brave students!
    If I was there, I would be working hard on vocabulary and language use. Some of the English chemistry words mean different things in colloquial use.
    I would try:
    constantly asking them the Spanish for key words.
    Cloze activities where they have a choice of words to fill the blanks,
    lots of dot and cross diagrams, lots of images, lots of "whats this?" interludes in long lessons.
    Best wishes,
    P
     
  4. Masfar

    Masfar New commenter

    Hello there!

    As a HOS in Mexico teaching native Spanish speakers in English (IB and IGCSE!!) I totally understand where you are coming from. Tricks I use to help teach science to non-native speakers

    Have a key word board for each topic and constantly get the pupils to refer to it for oral and written answers

    Do NOT accept ANY oral responses unless they are using key words (correctly!)

    Break down the command terms in exam questions and explain what they mean in terms of formulating an answer
    e.g. Compare the properties of a metal to a non-metal

    In this case 'compare' means pointing out both similarities AND differences with differences usually outlined in a table

    90% of my homeworks are past papers

    My starter and plenary activities are mostly based around practising key terms (quia.com is a godsend for this).
    Silly song lyrics fill in the blanks (youtube is great for this)

    Flashcards

    Use roleplay to act out complex concepts. In chemistry I've acted out balancing equations, bonding, electrolysis all using coloured stickers and repeating over and over again

    Making videos on their mobile phones and uploading them to youtube as a revision aid or narrating videos from the internet

    Insist on them speaking English ALL the time. I run it as a competition between classes. Each time a class is overhead speaking Spanish they get a tally mark on a chart. The class at the end of the week/month with the least tallies gets to pick a fun activity or gets a prize (pencils or stickers)


    I suggest you get hold of some literature on CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning. Whoever is in charge of CPD in your school should be able to help you with this.

    Suerte!
     
  5. Masfar

    Masfar New commenter

    I'm dreadfully sorry - I promise that this had spaces and wasn't a wall of txt when I posted it!
     
  6. Thanks Phlogiston,

    Some good solid ideas.
    I am probably not focussing enough on vocab, and cloze activities would be a great idea. Do you know of anywhere that has them already prepared? I have 27 hrs contact time, I teach IB biology as well and have NO technician and any time savers are a massive help!
    We do dot and cross, but they are getting them confused with VESPR and find it tricky to understand salts such as Boron trifluoride can also have a structure as a molecular form. Maybe I´m not explaining properly?
    What kind of images do you mean and what is a "what´s this" inderlude?
    Please forgive me if I come acroos as being a bit stupid, but I´ve just taught 7 lessons back to back and I´m a bit frazzled!
     
  7. Hola Masfar!
    You clearly have a lot of fun in your classes! Thank you very much for your ideas. Although I move classrooms all the time and cannot implement the speak English tally chart,I have passed the idea onto other teachers in the school.
    We made a start on vocab boards in each classroom with the year 10´s after I read your post this morning.
    The pupils are aware of command terms but I probably should do a check to ensure understanding.
    I will check out quia.com although I am already using quizlet. I don´t know if it is similar.
    Although we don´t have anyone in charge of CPD in the school, I will certainly look up CLIL although I have found the RSC quite helpful.
    Hopefully implementing some of your ideas will give me the energy and revamp I need to continue! [​IMG]
     
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    By a "what's this?" interlude I meant, during a pause between learning activities show them things like a model of a (water) molecule or a sodium chloride structure and say "what's this? - why's it this shape? what sort of bonding does it have? what's the bond angle? how are the atoms/ions held together?..." questions as appropriate.
    Best wishes,
    P
    never underestimate the capacity of the teenage brain to forget stuff you thought they knew perfectly the day before yesterday.
     
  9. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Another thing could be to give them badly answered questions - they /you explain how to improve them.
    P
     
  10. Sorry to say this, but failure looks to be a likely outcome.
    It's not your fault, nor under your control, but WHY are Spanish speakers following a SPANISH course via English as a medium? Is it to improve their language skills?
    WHY do you only have 1h40m?
    I taught on Costa del Sol to a range of "foreigners" but all lessons (apart from MFL!) were in English. We were doing Edexcel A level or Cambridge IGCE and got 5 or 6 hours for each Science.
    As I said, it's not within your control so you don't need to answer, but it is certainly intriguing.
    HELP WISE: We were taught many years ago to work in English on one piece of paper and get them to translate into Mother Tongue on a different piece (eg done as homework). This gets them to read through their work again (always good) and includes a bit of neural processing. Unless you're competent, you have no way of knowing if they've done it correctly, but the onus is on them.
    Are there any other schools in the vicinity? Could you talk to their teachers and enlist some personal support? Could their students swop blogs with your students? A local teacher training institution might be even more advantageous.
    One successful colleague used to set a number of pages to be read and some questions to be answered. Her lessons consisted mainly of students explaining their work to their peers, with the teacher interjecting where extra detail was required. Getting them involved in use of English is important. Obviously, there were also practical sessions from time-to-time.
    For what it's worth, almost all students ignore correct exam techniques: many have been successful at pre-16 and can't believe there is a greater demand for precision now.
    Most books about 3D structures portray them as 2D diagrams (what else can they do?). The author knows the structure and makes some assumptions about the students, which may not always be correct. Having physical models to handle helps. Additionaly, interactive resources may allow glimpses from different angles. Persevere. Asking them to make 3D structures as homework may be a help - they have a physical problem to overcome, as well as interpreting the information, and marking is easy.
    Good luck. My initial comment about "failure" was not a criticism of you, just my analysis of "your" system.
     
  11. lunarita

    lunarita Established commenter

    It might be IB rather than a specifically Spanish course.
    That to me is the bigger issue. I wondered if perhaps they were also getting some chemistry classes in spanish with a spanish teacher. If not, then management clearly have little idea about what's required in a post-16 course.
    I could hazard a guess at the school in question.
     
  12. lunarita

    lunarita Established commenter

    Ignore my above post. I just re-read the OP and noticed this
     
  13. Masfar

    Masfar New commenter

    Actually - it's not that unusual Physics_suits_you

    I teach the Mexican national curriculum (CCH) in english to non native english speakers. A lot of international schools have to run the national curriculum concurrently as a nod to the local education ministry guidelines. I'm an IB biologist dazed1 so if you need any help or resources let me know. I have resources for the whole course plus options E and F.

    What you are experiencing is totally normal. I had to overhaul the way I taught completely when I moved out here after teaching for 4 years in state schools in Scotland!
     

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