10-second review: One of the major problems in working with ELLs is translating English idioms into English.
Title: “Transnational and Community Literacies for Teachers.” RT Jiménez; PH Smith; BL Teague. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (September 2009), 16-26. The secondary school publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).
Problem: How would you translate the following idiom into English that can be understood by an English language learner? “The text reads, ‘He is sending him to new heights’ and is accompanied by an image of a pilot handing a model airplane to a boy. Students translating the idiomatic expression, ‘to send (someone) to new heights’ into a language other than English will discover multiple layers of meaning that will require interpretation and discussion to produce a comparable text in the other language.”
Comment: Not to mention into English that the English language learner will be able to understand.
My attempt: The pilot is encouraging the young boy to achieve his dreams, including, perhaps, becoming a pilot.
I still think one of the best techniques that one can use with ELLs is to have them write in English, as best they can, for ten minutes a day on a topic of their choice. At night, or if there is time, during the class, the teacher corrects the students’ text, fixing grammar, usage, punctuation, and translating idioms, etc. The students ask the teacher questions about the corrections and then re-write, making the corrections so that they have a model of correct English writing. Ten minutes of writing is not much writing. But a lot can be learned from that short sample of writing. RayS.