They sit in the classroom, quiet and polite, waiting for you to speak. They look at you attentively when you do speak, but you have no idea if they understood anything you just said. Then, after a slight pause, your interpreter steps in. He/she does his/her best to explain to the class what your thoughts, comments, and ideas consist of, however, you are not sure communication really occurred. This is the challenge of teaching to non-English speaking students.
Typically these students are young adults learning English as a second language who have already attended some college in their home country. Here are some techniques that have helped me to successfully penetrate the cultural barrier and make the classroom experience more enjoyable and meaningful for all parties:
Rely on Your Interpreter
I have found it helpful to establish a relationship with the interpreter by allowing him or her to elaborate on your lecture. He/she can advise you when you give an example the students cannot relate to and suggest a better one. The students can ask the interpreter for clarification if they do …