End of year survey – most students said they learned English and culture. They got help with their homework and said they met people.
Some years I have many newcomers who do not know each other. Right now, most of my newcomers are related to each other and tend to go to family members for support/friendship.
Mentoring can also be used at the undergraduate or graduate level. I use it in our graduate MA TESL program, which has about 40 students, 2/3 of whom are international.
One type of mentoring I have tried is to have current students email incoming students and then act as something of a mentor when the new student arrives. In assigning students to this task, I ask the incoming students if they want to be in contact with a current student and then I take what I know about the incoming student’s personal situation and the questions he or she has already asked into account. For example, a student coming with small children is given a current student who has small children. Thus, a student has the opportunity to be mentored before enrollment, and this hopefully carries on through the first year while the mentor student is still in the program.
Mentoring can also work at the group level. I organize the groups of students before each semester starts, creating groups which have balance of various kinds. In addition to mixing cohorts and cultures, I try to mix strong and weak students, Teaching assistants with offices and non-TAs with no place to hang out as well as those in different living situations. This especially helps those without a car or a kitchen to make friends with those who can give them transportation.
I have found that I need to organize tasks for the groups to do, especially at first to get them started. The first task is to make a dish together for the department fall picnic and to make sure every group member has transportation to the picnic. Students are expected to help one another and to call on one another for help. Finally, there is at least one professional task each semester that is similar to what practicing teachers collaborate on.Give examples of member support – students failing comps and working with Mentoring Group to study for later attempts.
These are examples of the bulletin boards mentoring groups have created.
Survey students every year at least once. Some students participate more than others; most participate more in first semester (needing help) and third semester (giving help)
Last year I added a level by starting to have group mentoring at the Ph.D. level for our Language Education students. Language Ed is one concentration among many in a large Ph.D. program in the Curriculum and Instruction Media Technology Department, and I am Co-Chair of those 15-20 Lang Ed students, who are at all stages of program – taking classes, writing proposals, doing dissertation research, and getting ready to defend dissertation. They don’t see one another, and I found myself spending hours mentoring each one individually and often explaining the same thing over and over again, so I started this Mentoring Group, which I meet with every month. Partly, it is group advising; partly it is students mentoring students, giving much better advice I could on the challenges of a particular course from a particular professor, etc. The group met last Thursday, and one student who had just defended his proposal showed the rest of us how to switch PowerPoint to Presenter mode so that the speaker can see the notes and timing while the audience just sees the slides. This kind of spontaneous sharing happens every month.
The undergraduates at my university don’t have Mentoring Groups, but LLLearners is a student organization the MA students started in 2002 for any student studying a language. Now the undergraduates in LLL are far more active in leading it, and they plan activities that help coordinate all of the groups in the department. The LLLearners organizes monthly activities, such as Language Games Day, foreign films, and International Poetry Night, and the M.A. Mentoring Groups participate by sharing the results of their group tasks.
This is last year’s language games day.
The international poetry night drew students from all levels reading poetry in about 8 different languages.
Students Mentoring Students from Grade School to Grad School Kathy Lobo (grade school) Melissa Latham (high school) Leslie Barratt (grad school)
This presentation demonstrates the potential of student mentoring programs to provide a venue for authentic communication and increased social integration for language learners. Three models of mentoring at middle school (grades 5-8), high school, and university were implemented.
Language is acquired through authentic interactions Many of our students may be isolated and have a small/limited social network Fostering social networking and authentic communication can in turn foster language development and greater academic success Student mentoring programs provide both a venue for authentic communication and increased social integration for language learners
Mentoring in “Grade School” Lunch groups held on a frequent basis -opportunity for students in the same grade to meet and interact Special Events for English Language Learners held several times a year -opportunity for students across grade levels to meet and interact
Connecting to the Wider Community Museums often have free admission hours Students and families can use public transportation Free events at local libraries, music schools, churches, town halls. . . Historical reenactments. . .annual events. . .
High School Demographics 2% of high school students are LEP 96% of high school students plan to attend college The native languages spoken by students in the ELE program or FLEP monitoring in the 2008-2009 school year included Korean (14), Mandarin Chinese (11), Spanish (6), Cantonese Chinese (2), Russian (2), German (2), Armenian (2), Nepali (1), French (1), Albanian (1), Gujarati (1), Hebrew (1), Haitian Creole (1) and Japanese (1)
High School Student Voices “Well there’s four [Spanish-speaking students], 3, 4…have been here for a long time, like their whole lives, so they’re really comfortable with it. And they can use it anytime they want and move it around and express themselves very well and, yeah, it’s basically their first language. They have two first languages because they were raised here so they can use it very well. Then, there’s like three groups, that and then there’s a middle group where I put myself where we’re still learning but have like a basic English…we can talk to people and express ourselves, but we still need more. We’re comfortable but we could use more.
And then there’s the people who are learning now and still feel awkward when they try to speak and it gets uncomfortable. I don’t know. Every time I’m with them I try to speak in Spanish half the time and in English half the time to get…in their heads somehow…how I learned. One of my friends helped me that speaks Spanish. It’s like three different groups.” (Al, 17, from Chile, 2.5 years in the US)
High School Student Voices “I want to say when I first came to here, I felt everyone was so unfriendly because when I asked them something they didn’t respond, but until now I feel like so many kids are nice and they’re all good kids and then because I communicate with them…It’s like I gave them something and then they gave me back.” (Yu, 15, from China, 1 year in the US)
High School Student Voices “It was really difficult. Kind of difficult. In the first time, the first class was History class, and Mr. S., when I was a freshman and everyone know each other, but I didn’t know who was my classmate. Mr. S. let us to know the people’s name, just memorize the name, and I failed because it was kind of unfamiliar to me. English name, and I can’t really understand what they saying. My turn, it was something. It was Peter…I don’t know…but I failed. I feel really awkward because everybody know each other, but I don’t know. It was kind of awkward. Yeah, six months, I know each other. It’s getting better. Yeah. It’s getting better.” (Yoon, 18, from Korea, 2 years in the US)
High School Student Voices “And also, Buyee, you know her? She was crying in the office of my drawing/painting teacher, and then I asked her why and she said, she feel so sad because…her Algebra teacher so mean, and then she was like, she feels it is so hard for us to come here because she was a great student in Korea, but in here her grade went down so much because of the language and the teacher didn’t understand her and then like said something so mean about her. So she was so…and I had that same experience before. And we were crying in the office and…it’s always hard for foreigners to come to a country that they don’t know before.” (Yu, 15, from China, 1 year in the US).
Mentor Program Two versions One-on-one: Students were paired with another student and met once a week. Whole group meeting at the end of the month. (‘08-’09) Whole group: Students met in a large group once a term. (’09-’10)
One-on-One Mentor was a student who had already spent one academic year in the school. Mentee was a new student that year. Mentor received service hours. Pros: some pairs met a lot, helped with school work, friendships Cons: some pairs had a hard time connecting, more mentors than mentees
Whole Group Mentors were students who had already spent one academic year in the school. Mentees were new students that year. Mentors received service hours. Pros: Eliminated problem of pairs connecting, all mentors could participate Cons: Fewer meetings, fewer individual connections, less collaboration on school work
Scavenger Hunt What is the title of the book under the call number: 523.89 REY What are the names of the three secretaries in the main office? What are three ways you can receive gym credit at BHS? What is the BHS mascot? What Shakespearean play is the English director reading? (HINT: It is on her desk!) What five pictures are on Mr. Millington’s door? Where is the lost and found? Who teaches in room 114? What are the four languages taught in the Foreign Language Department? What department does Ms. Lints teach in?
Questions for Consideration My mentors were very motivated to participate. The mentees didn’t seem to have as much buy-in. How can the program be more useful to mentees? Should the program look different depending on the needs of the population in a given year? How should students be matched? Is native language/cultural background important? Age group?
Mentoring at the Graduate Level Pairs with current students and incoming students (via email) Pairs with first- and second-year TAs M.A. Mentoring Groups Ph.D. Mentoring Group Mentoring across groups – LinkingLanguageLearners organization
Current and Incoming Incoming students are asked if they would like to correspond with a current student. Current student chosen based on various factors: time, enthusiasm, similar situation, sometimes country or culture.
M.A. Mentoring Groups 3-6 M.A. students 1st and 2nd-year M.A. students NEST and NNEST students Students of several countries/languages At least one student with a car
Group Tasks Social events – cooking together for department events Member support – for English or studies Collaboration on Professional task bulletin boards Language games Other service project
Ph.D. Mentoring Group All students in Language Education concentration Monthly meetings for students to report progress on dissertations/proposals get feedback from others Pre-candidate students get advice on classes and topics
Mentoring across Levels LinkingLanguageLearners student organization plans events M.A. Mentoring Groups (as well as others) bring their games and teach them Students at all levels help plan and run events