All posts by Naomi Epstein

Hi! I teach English as a foreign language to deaf and hard of hearing students in Israel and am a national counselor in this field. http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org

Trouble with the word “save”!

Many pupils have dificulties in remembering or even accepting the fact that a word has more than meaning. With deaf students it is often a bigger problem, especially in a foreign language!

The word “save” is  an example of a problem that I haven’t found a solution for. They all know, or rather KNOW that the meaning of “save” is the manner in which  you prevent your data from being lost on the computer. And that’s that. Then they encounter sentences with other meanings of save they go off in wrong directions.

Regarding the word “test” I found a creative solution (well, at least with most of the pupils. Some remain in “don’t confuse me with the facts” mode).  In Hebrew the word “test” in its English form has come to denote the driving exam for one’s driver’s license. Every other kind of exam is referred to by its Hebrew name.  And thus I found references to driving appearing student’s work in totally unrelated contexts! I made cardboard signs for my pupils and whenever they take a test in class I place the  sign “test” on their desks. There has been a dramatic improvement with remembering the meaning of this word!

But what about “save”?

Which electronic dictionary to choose?

I was asked today, once again, which electronic dictionary is better for students.

I dont’ know if posting specific names of companies is the right thing to do as I’m not affiliated with any commercial company – does anyone have any adice on that issue? But there are a few basic things to note:

1) See if it is capable of translating phrasal verbs such as “take place” – very important for pupils!

2) Type in an irregular verb in the past tense. If it notifies you that this is the past tense form of the verb (and gives you the present form) then that’s fine. DO NOT choose one that ignores these verbs and goes on to the closest matching word it can find.

3) Try typing in a word like “nose” or “sun”. If it gives you, as the first option, a translation using Biblical Hebrew – you don’t want that one!

4) If its really cheap – I hate to admit it, but that IS a bad sign….

Just give ’em a pencil!

I know we’re supposed to encourage responsibility and student-like behavior and I usually try to do that. However, some of these pupils are “special ed” in more ways than one. Mix that with the fact that I’m teaching deaf Israeli , Hebrew speakers, English as a FOREIGN language and it’s a tough subject, I must “pick my fights”. And so, like on this stormy day, you will find me handing out paper, pencils and most importantly – supplying a tissue box! I have other “battles to wage!”

It’s SATURDAY – time to discuss books!

Last Chance to See” by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

Wonderful book!
My 16 year old, nature-loving son, had told many times I should read this book and for some reason I just kept postponing it. I kind of forgot who the author was and was kind of worried it would be boring. NO WAY!

I’m quoting from the back cover here because this is an apt description:

“After years of reflecting on the absurdities of life on other planets, Douglas Adams (you know, the one from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!) teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwardine to find out what was happening to life on this one…”

It is delightful to read and I was repeatedly amazed how by using COMEDY, Adams made some very serious points about the world!

Enjoy!

Texting While Driving – another ” reading pictures” exercise

Texting While Driving

My deaf students are extremely efficient texters (what an amazing invention the cell phone is for them!). Yet I know some of my students text while driving!  “I can text without looking”  they say! True, but what about the reply?

When I saw this ad I knew I had to use it!

Here are two versions I prepared, the “red” one is a bit easier and uses some Hebrew.

Drive safely!

SMS driving red SMS driving

“Reading” Pictures

"Gifted"

As I mentioned in my previous post, I find pictures to be a useful tool for improving reading comprehension skills at all ages – you just need to use appropriate pictures.

One of the most important skills that  pupils must acquire is answering questions with answers that are relevant to the type of question asked. In order to have the pupils actually focus on understanding the questions we must separate the questions from the texts which are difficult for them. There are a number of ways to do this. Using pictures is one of my favorites.

One of things I do with high-school students is ask “Bagrut Type” (matriculation exam format) questions about an interesting picture. For example, take the question “Where could you find such a picture?” Many pupils tend to respond in a concrete manner; “I can’t find such a picture”.  Yet they must relate to the fact that if its an ad, it would probably be found in a magazine or newspaper, etc.

Pictures are also useful for practicing questions using common tricky phrases such as “the woman looks pleased”. Pupils tend to think that the word “look” only has one meaning and confuse “pleased” with “please”.

Here is one example I use. In future posts I will add more. I’m afraid I do not know who drew this picture (I found it ,slightly torn,amng postcards left to me by another teacher) and will gladly give full credit if anyone does know!

Gifted

Why am I “visualising ideas”?

Photo by Gil Epstein
Photo by Gil Epstein

As a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students I’m constantly “visualising ideas”. By “visualising” I mean a multitude of things.

For starters, there’s Sign Language, an absolutely visual mode. When something is large, when you sign you show just how big it is. And its not just your hands involved, its your facial expressions too.

But that’s just one aspect of it. About half my students don’t use sign language (many have cochlear implants). Yet just talking about something (whether using speech, sign language or both) is not enough for these pupils to really and truly understand ideas and concepts I’m trying to teach. Everything is always supported by the written word. In addition I use pictures, graphs or just plain line drawings. And to make those truly “visual” in the students’ minds I need a lot of examples (as closely related to the pupils’ lives as I can). In fact, I even have reading comprehension exercises based on pictures (more about that in another post)!

This need to visualize everything has become such a part of me (I’ve been teaching for more than 25 years!) that even when lecturing to hearing people I use pictures. I must admit the feedback has been very positive! As you see, I’ve even added a picture here!

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