Hambrick gets physical with English language education!

Edgar Monroy (left) and Ana Orozco (right) take part in a game at Hambrick Middle.

Learning a new language can be tough. Traditional teaching involves showing pictures, learning the word for it and then building to create phrases and sentences. But at Hambrick Middle School, teacher Gloria Muti is allowing students to get physically involved in the language education for students who must learn English as a second language or ESL.

“The gymnasium has proven to be an ideal place for ESL interactive lessons and activities.” Muti exclaims. “Singing, dancing, acting out plays, writing and reading have all proven effective within the atmosphere of the gymnasium.” Students are required to verbalize the activities they’re doing. These activities are often built into games and competition. Ask most any middle school student and you’ll find out very quickly how much they love to compete.

These activities are listed on handout sheets. For example, in a vocabulary game when a student answers correctly, he scores a point for his team then is allowed to shoot a basket for a bonus point. Language skills are enhanced with use of portable dry erase boards where these students with native foreign languages are taught encouraging and congratulatory phrases. Now the student teams are cheering each other on in English, using the language, mastering the words and physically engaging in the things they are learning.

As lessons progress, sentences, dialogue, language and word games are combined with such activities as “Hot Potato, a Sack race or other games that require students to physically move around. Muti is excited about the opportunity to move these students into the gymnasium. It’s still a classroom, but now students can express their enthusiasm, get a little loud, have some fun and begin mastering the English language. With a mastery of the language the rest of the curriculum required in Texas becomes more manageable. As Muti put it, “Instruction comes to life with physical demonstration and physical activity.”

When instruction comes to life, students learn and when students learn, their lives are enriched and their opportunities grow. Success for our kids is just a simple wish we ask for every day.