We are a group of ESL-ers in Cleveland Ohio who are trying to teach refugees and immigrants basic survival English.

We invite you to join us with your posts.
We will try to put articles of interest to those of you who share your talents and time with the newly arrived in our cities.

Some of our students learning.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Furrowed Brow

I was watching my two year old grandson at his two year birthday party.  The party was an open house for all the cousins and friends.  Every few minutes someone would arrive with a present for Silas and he was required to open it and say thank you to these people, some of whom he seldom sees.

He was overwhelmed.  People were calling him, oohing and aahing over him, kissing and hugging him, and pushing presents at him.

Several times during the course of the afternoon I saw him furrow his brow and scowl.

This was fascinating to me.  I had just read (for ESL prep) that one of the main reasons people need and want to learn English is so that they know what is expected of them and how to behave in different settings. The author went on to say that it was very common for someone who does not understand what is going on, or how to behave, or what to say will have a furrowed brow and may even scowl.

And here we thought Silas was just being cranky and tired.

This is the way our immigrants and refugees feel.  They are in a new place with people talking all around them that they do not understand.  They are trying to move among them, perhaps riding a bus, or shopping or trying to find help and they do not understand what is going on, or how to behave, or what to say . 

Watch your learner(s).  Do their brows furrow?  They may not only be missing the word you are trying to teach; they may not understand what they are suppose to do or how they relate to you. This certainly can affect learning. Realize that they are not just tired or cranky or unresponsive.  They may be totally overwhelmed or confused. Help alleviate those feelings by taking it slower or taking a calming moment.

 Keep your eyes open for the bigger picture.