Curry School of Education


How to Use

student at desk

Building on the idea of Problem-Based Learning (Levin, Hibbard and Rock, 2002), with each scenario you will encounter challenges that teachers may face when working with English Language Learners.

  1. Read the introduction
  2. Watch the video
  3. Answer the questions
  4. Compare your responses to how our experts answered


Scenario 2: School was Different


What does school mean? What if, for most of your life, you had been told you weren’t allowed to go to school? What if school were a place where teachers would hit you?

Listen as Sofia, a girl from Afghanistan, and Asubuhi, from Tanzania, describe what school was like. Then, consider how you would help these students learn and succeed in schools here in the USA when answering the questions.


Q1. Sofia was not allowed to attend school before coming to the US. How would you have helped her adjust to this completely unfamiliar environment?

Q2. Asubuhi said that in his country, students were hit as punishment. How might the expectation of corporal punishment affect his behavior in an American classroom?

Q3. What should classroom teachers do to help him adjust to American consequences for misbehavior?

Q4. Sofia says, "We didn’t have no school buses," which is grammatically incorrect. Why didn’t the interviewer stop her and make her say "We didn’t have any school buses"?