ESL/LEP Module
SUNY Cortland

Immersion simulation

One of the goals of this module is to give you some insight into the situation of the ESL/LEP students and their situation in the public schools.  Many LEP students are placed directly into content-based courses with little or no ESL support.  They are expected to learn the content area information along with all the other students who are, of course, English-speaking.  Try to put yourself in the position of a newly enrolled LEP student in this situation.  YOU are that student, and you have just been enrolled in several content courses that are NOT taught in your native language.  Do the activities below to get an idea of what your LEP students might experience.


Listen to the professors teaching and then answer the simple questions that follow.  To hear each professor's mini-lecture, click on the photo.

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Class:  Arabic literature

Instructor:  Dr. George El-Hage

Now, answer the question below in the space provided:

1.  What is this literary selection about?  Write your response in the box below.

Hmm, that wasn't so easy, was it? Of course, it could be that you are a visual learner rather than an auditory learner.  Perhaps if you viewed the literary text, you could answer the question.

2.  What information did you glean from reading the text? Write your response in the box below.


Ok, let's try another class.

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Class:  Chinese history.

Instructor:  Song Jie

Now, answer the question below in the space provided:

3.  What is this historical selection about? Write your response in the box below.

This is not getting any better, is it?  Ok, let's take a look at this text and see if it helps.

4.  What information did you glean from reading the text? Write your response in the box below.



Alright, alright.  You are probably saying: "Sure, those are LCTLs (well, if you did the terminology page and quiz you might say that).  I could probably understand it if she spoke something like Spanish."  Well, let's try Spanish, then.  Everybody speaks some Spanish, after all, and there are lots of cognates.  

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Class:  Psychology

Instructor:  Patricia Martínez de la Vega Mansilla 

Now, answer the question below in the space provided:

5.  What is this Psychology lecture about?  List any ideas or words that are familiar to you.  Write your response in the box below.

Perhaps this time the visual representation will help.  Take a look at the corresponding text and see what you can glean from it.

6.  Write down any ideas you comprehend from this lecture or, at the very least, as many cognates as you can find.  Write your response in the box below.


Well, that was a little easier, wasn't it?  But it still wasn't like understanding everything the teacher was saying, right?  Let's try a completely different content area:  Physical Education. Surely THAT will be easier.

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Class:  Physical Education

Instructor:  Wolfgang Krause

7.  What is this instructor trying to teach you?  What does he want you to do?


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Class:  Physical Education, Take Two

Instructor:  Wolfgang Krause

8.  Now do you understand what to do?  Why?

Every culture has its myths, legends, and stories that are commonly known to everyone.  In the United States, for example, everyone "knows" that:

  • George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then admitted the deed to his father, setting an example not to lie.

  • Abe Lincoln walked several miles to return a few cents to a customer, thus exemplifying his honesty.
  • Whether or not these stories are true, people can recite them by heart, make reference (veiled or otherwise) to them and expect to be understood completely.  The historical Chinese text above is an example of this type of cultural knowledge; everyone in China knows about the origin of the Duanwu Festival and will recite the same story.  But you probably did not understand much, if anything, from the recitation or the reading, did you?  This is due to several factors:
  • unfamiliar vocabulary and language structure
  • unfamiliar sounds of the language
  • unfamiliar cultural knowledge
  • unfamiliar writing system
  • ESL/LEP students deal with these problems on a daily basis when they are in content classes.  While not all ESL/LEP students are dealing with a new writing system, they are confronted with the other factors that loom large in their understanding or lack thereof.


    In this simulation, you are in these classes for credit and a grade, just like your ESL/LEP students.  Keeping this in mind, respond to the following questions:

    9.  How did you feel when you could not understand the spoken lecture, the written text, or the instructions without demonstration? Write your response in the box below.


    10.  What should you keep in mind when preparing lessons in your content area for all students, including those who are ESL/LEP?  Write your response in the box below.

    My name: 

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    Jean W. LeLoup
    Modern Languages Department
    Copyright © 2000, 2014 Jean W. LeLoup; technical modifications Bob Ponterio