So, here is Ngoc. 

I wanted to share her picture with you when I last wrote about her joining my class, but it took a little time to translate the photo-release form into Vietnamese and get it to her parents.

As promised, in this post, I’ll share what I’ve been doing so far to support her English language development.  In sharing, I hope that you can spot lots of holes in my amateurish efforts and contribute loads of wonderful ideas in the comment section below.

Ngoc is doing really well on her history assignment (after I translated everything into Vietnamese).  At the end of each day, we take about 10 or 15 minutes to work on her English. 

My first thought was to buy a children’s book written in both Vietnamese and English and use those to work on pronunciation and vocabulary.  I bought four (my father generously offered to pay for two of them).  The day after they arrived, Ngoc and I started reading The Lion and the Mouse

As I read the book aloud to Ngoc, I pointed to the picture of the lion, saying, “lion,” and asking her to repeat the word.  Then I would point to the written word and say it again.  Finally, Ngoc would point to the corresponding word in Vietnamese and pronounce it for me, correcting my mistakes.  We continued that way as we progressed through the story, learning “lion,” “tree,” “mouse,” and other words.

As the days progressed, we continued in much the same matter.  We started quizzing each other, with one of us pointing at a picture and the other saying the English or Vietnamese word. Then one of us would point at the written word and have the other person say it (her in English, me in Vietnamese).

On Friday, we realized we could find and pronounce our new vocabulary words independent of the other’s prompting.  It was the last day before Spring Break, so I gave Ngoc an assignment for the break.  I asked if she had anyone to practice English with at home.  She did.  I told her that when we returned to school, I wanted her to read the whole story to me in English.  Her eyes grew big with the enormity of what I was asking from her. Then she squared her shoulders and nodded, determined to work hard and make me proud. 

Over break, it dawned on me that my dear friend and CTQ Collaboratory colleague, Wendi Pillars, is a teacher of English Language Learners in North Carolina.  I wrote her an email, asking for help.  She had wonderful ideas!

When I got back to school from the break, my entire class launched into action!

(Let me take a brief aside to share with you how much I love and admire my students.  I am really blessed to get to teach in my school’s Education Academy.  While Ngoc isn’t a member of the academy, I shared her story with a few of my Intro to ED students, who had just finished up final drafts of the children’s books they were writing.  I shared Ngoc’s story with them, as well as Ms. Pillars’ ideas, and asked if they wanted to help.)


Monique jumped on the idea of labeling the classroom.  “I love labeling things!” she exclaimed.  Using markers and brightly colored 4×6 cards, she put names on nearly everything in my classroom: the white board, the projector, the phone, even my coffee maker!


Cecilia and Zainab started drawing pictures to go with some phrases that Ngoc might need to navigate school: “I don’t understand.” “Can you repeat that?” and “Can you help me?” 

When Ngoc came into class after lunch, I showed her the signs and the pictures.  I shard with her the pictures I took of Zainab, Cecilia, and Monique and told her how they had helped me.  I also told her about Ms. Pillars and how she had helped from the other side of the country.  Ngoc said, “Thank you.”

Finally, we got down to business.  Ngoc read me the story of the Lion and the Mouse.  She was fantastic!  She stumbled on a few of the words, but after hearing me pronounce it a couple of times, she got it.  As a reward, she read the story to me again, this time in Vietnamese.

So there is it, my friends and colleagues.  This is what I’ve been able to do so far, with a lot of wonderful help.

I want to also ask you:  What else can I be doing to support Ngoc?  Remember, we still have to do our history assignment, so I only have about ten to fifteen minutes each day.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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