I haven’t had students new to the language dropped into my AP class, but it wasn’t uncommon for this to happen in my other courses. IMO, ultimately it’s not realistic for these students to be achieving at the same level as students fluent in English - but we can definitely provide as much support as we can.
Some things I tried to help these students transition into their new environment:
- Using basic strategies we might use for any English Learner - simplifying sentences, supplementing with gestures and visuals, giving extra time to process. It’s a bit of playing charades and Taboo (avoiding anything other than the most basic vocab).
- Encouraging the student to use Google Translate - on whatever device is most convenient. In some cases, I had an extra phone on hand just for this purpose. It was an old pay-as-you-go phone that works fine over wifi.
- Having the student build their vocabulary over time. I have the student use the last pages of their class notebook as a “dictionary”. Every day they choose 2 words and I choose 2 words (or whatever combination you want) to write into their dictionary. They don’t necessarily have to be words related to the class - mostly words that are commonly used that they find helpful or I think they’ll need to know (such as “computer”, “wait”, “click”, “stop”, “describe”, etc.). They log the word in English and in their native language. Depending on the situation, I might borrow their notes and make a quiz every week or so if I want to give them points (but in most cases, these students have been pretty self-motivated and learn the words on their own since they just find it helpful).
It sounds like the student you have is putting in the effort and just needs some support. However, it might be up to your policies and your school’s policies to decide what to actually hold him accountable for. Meanwhile, the way I view it, my job is to help the student adapt to their new environment while getting them to learn as much of the content as realistically possible without unfairly jeopardizing their grade.
Hope this helps.
PS - Oh, in some cases I try to learn their dictionary terms with them, in their native language. Sometimes this helps if it’s a student who could use a bit more buy-in, plus it shows that we’re all learning and it’s okay to struggle and ask how to pronounce something and say it wrong a few times.