Independence and boisterous



Over the last week I have been impressed with the independence of my reluctant speaker of English when it comes to his reading.


His daily reading routine involves him selecting a book and reading it to himself before he reads to the teacher or teaching assistant. After reading with teacher he then selects a buddy to read to (not always). The buddies task is to listen to him and get him read with more volume. The buddy usually sits a metre or two away from him which encourages him to read with increase volume, again sometimes this works. Depends who is listening around him.


A follow on activity for him is to use sight words he has built up and to read these aloud to buddy or teacher.


Afterwards he uses these words and creates sentences that he also reads aloud. All this is to increase his fluency and volume in the hope he will speak louder as he is so softly spoken when he reads and speaks


it is impossible to hear him sometimes. I wonder if he will ever become as loud as others in the class?

It is not as if I want him to be loud and boisterous. I just want him to be heard. Although the day he is boisterous and calling out in the class I will gladly embrace as I know I have made a difference.


All be it his next teacher may not be so happy with me.





Trouble with Google Translate


My previous post I shared the work a child had done in my class translating a poem he had created with a partner using google translate. I asked the child to take his poem home to share with his parents and ask them to comment on his work. What I got back instead was the poem re-corrected. It would appear google translate had gotten it SO wrong. The boy did not mind that his work was rewritten, in fact he was happy that his parents had supported him.

It would appear one should not rely solely on google translate to translate.


I wonder if I had asked the boy to write by hand his poem from English to Japanese would he have made the same errors, or was he himself relying solely on google translate as he could not understand the English words to notice the errors. Maybe he was not strong in his mother tongue to notice these errors. He copied and pasted the typed up work sentence by sentence into google translate.

It is interesting to see how many errors we had made when it was translated into Japanese.

I recently read this post by Paula and the link below.

In this post was a link  – Encouraging the use of online translation such as Britannica, Google Translate etc.

I also spoke to my TA about the use of google translate and how we use it often in the class to translate English to Khmer. He politely pointed out that often google translate does not translate well to Khmer. That children often have written it wrong.  Some of our children were writing the words in Khmer wrong relying solely on what google translate was telling them. I wonder if some of them were not confident in reading or understanding this in their mother tongue in the first place. My TA pointed out that it was not the children’s fault but google translate. That it is very important to remember that if we are getting the children to translate into Khmer and then display it, that we check it is correct with one of the TA’s. If not then they will also be reading it wrong. Google translate has told them what to say but it may be wrong. (not always)

I have seen this when we read some Khmer books where the translation from Khmer to English is lost in translation. Not the authors fault I am sure.14717195_10154692936279175_5291542596373226262_n

So what have I learnt from this experience.

Simply, that we should not solely trust google translate 100%. Use it by all means, but where possible find an expert to check your work. I never checked my child’s writing against google translate or even asked another Japanese child to check. I relied on the good will of google translate and that the boy had done it correctly. He knew what he was doing.

I wonder what the parents of this child thought of me when they saw what their child had written so wrongly. I just presumed it was right. He didn’t think he was wrong, but he was also not confident enough to read what he had written in Japanese back to me.

Lesson learnt.

Translating Poem


This week the class has been working on creating personification poems using words from the learner profile or attributes of a leader that we brainstormed during our unit. They had a template to follow provided by Ms Marcelle and in pairs they had to find synonyms for the word – What can the word do? Then What can’t it do (Antonyms).

After finishing their poems, I got my Japanese boy to translate his poem that he did with his partner into Japanese.


It was great to watch how focussed he was in doing this task. Yes, he used google translate to help him. But he was so proud of his finished work.

The next stage of this task is to get him to add this to his own blog and then record himself reading his poem in Japanese and English and add this to his blog. I will also get him to share his work with his parents and ask them to comment directly onto his blog.


I am very proud of the translating he has done and the input he did give. He was a quiet participant with his partner in creating the poem and it took a lot of effort to get him to come up with his own ideas.

Here is his Poem

Personification poem



Kind is a thoughtful and a tolerant guy.


He likes to make an appearance when someone is unfriendly or when you are sad.


He is like a gentle giant.


He will say are you okay?


Kind will make you lunch And ask you how your day was.


Kind’s brother friendly is also kind hearted and loving.


Together they fight mean and nasty.


Kind will not be rude, he will be courteous


By Serey & Minato

作者 ソレイ&みなと

Greetings in mother tongue



I created this video a few weeks back as I was getting frustrated with the children NOT greeting me in the morning in their mother tongue. I was inspired by what Alison was doing in her class getting her children to write different greetings and with what we did with our

buddy class (Ms Rachelle G1) to post this. Even to this day they are reluctant and shy when greeting you. Their response is usually a quick hello. They are getting better. Maybe I am just to scary in the mornings or am I missing the loud kiwi kid.



Check out this video we made:

Looking for a different approach

I am writing this in the hope I may gain some insight on how to encourage a none speaking English boy to write and speak. He is a reluctant speaker in his mother tongue in the class due to being so shy.  Although I am informed at his weekend school the teachers have to tell him to stop talking. (Wouldn’t you, if at school you couldn’t communicate in the language of the playground all day,  it would be like a dam being unleashed)


At present I use google translate to support him in the class and try to get him to write the words in his mother tongue for me to translate. He is reluctant to give you any words or ideas in either English or his mother tongue. The support given to him by his previous teachers, teaching assistance and ideas EAL team has been wonderful. I still find myself asking what more can I do. It must be so draining for him to be so immersed in the language of English.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI have also wondered were we wrong in not placing another native speaker in the class with him who could communicate with him?

The reason we didn’t was the fact that he was relying so much on the other child that he was choosing to not even speak in English (which he still doesn’t), plus the other child needed a break from him. I wonder if I was immersed fully in a non speaking English school how would I cope? After a year and a half at school would I still be where this child is, would I too be using the strategies he uses. Is it better to give no answer than to give an answer and be wrong….Not a risk taker is he!



I also question myself “Am I doing enough”. I have taught other non-speaking English students and after a few months their progress has been ten-folds to what this boy is achieving. The support and guidance given by the EAL team has been great. Which brings me to the question “Is it him choosing to not progress in English or is the learnt shyness impeding him?”

Your thoughts and ideas greatly appreciated.

Attributes of a Leader – Mother tongue

I got this idea from another group blog where they put the learner profiles into the children’s mother tongue.  I decided to do the same for our unit. We have started to unpack our unit of inquiry “Shape of a leader”. The class was asked to think of words that came to mind when they think of the statement “what is a leader”.

This was our first thinking.

It was interesting to see what they think a leader is. We had answers from, kind and caring to rich, loud and tall.

We then agreed on what the attributes we look for in a leader and wrote these words up in different languages. The children could select words and then write these in their mother tongue.

SAM_1545It was great to see the children so excited and PROUD to write these words up in their mother tongue.




SAM_1548Some were able to write these up with no support where others used google translate or other children in the class to support them. The collaboration happening in the class was great to see.

They were also very quick to point out to me if I accidentally stapled their words up the wrong way.

This was a very simple way to incorporate the children’s mother tongue and something I will continue to do in the class. The children see that the teacher values their mother tongue.

SAM_1531I know in some countries (mine included) it was not that long ago that children were punished for not speaking English in the classroom. That they were not encouraged to speak in their mother tongue in class or playground.  Haven’t we all come a long way. How would these child feel if it happened to them (See link below)




How would you feel each day

In looking at some blogs and piggy back on what Paula tweeted in regard to “Views of class rooms around the world – How classrooms look around the world”.

I found this link on how two children get to school each day. A comparison of two children’s daily routines. The vast difference in their lives.

What do you think?

Do you think you would do this each day, just to get to school?

It does make you think of those children out in the provinces and other countries and what they have to do to get to school each day.  Or more importantly, imagine how they must be feeling when they do arrive at school – how tired and hungry would they be. What happens if they forget something.  Do they go back and get it?

It is worth showing it to your class and asking your children what they think, would they be that keen to get to school each day if they had to travel that distance? How these children value education – Why?

How lucky aimgresre the children we teach that they only have to walk from the carpark each morning.

Getting to school