5 Minutes Prep - 2 Hour Interactive Lesson!
The Christmas story below is geared for literacy and low beginner ELL students. It is adapted from Callan’s Canadian Holidays for Low Beginner ESL, but is suitable for use in America as well. Further low beginner exercises on Christmas, with pictures, are found in that book. An audio CD and cloze exercise are also available. (For free material for mid-beginner or intermediate level, check out my blog post on Christmas from last year, here. Or why not try a jigsaw lesson for Christmas? Check out Callan's Holiday Jigsaws.)
In an absolute beginner ESL or literacy level English language learning class, you may spend some time focusing on classroom verbs such as listen, speak, read, write, sit down, open, turn on, turn off etc., as well as classroom nouns, such as chair, desk, table, board, etc. Isn’t a word search a great way to reinforce this new vocabulary students have spent considerable time working with? It can be, but watch out for the direction words are written in.
Making your study of Canada for beginner and intermediate ESL come alive is easy with the use of some supplemental materials, like pictures, video and songs. Over the years I have collected about 15 images per province or territory from free Canada calendars, depicting such things as wheat fields, fishing villages, salmon, Douglas Fir trees and igloos that perfectly illustrate aspects of the jigsaws in Callan’s Beginner Canada Jigsaws or Callan’s Canada Jigsaws. I also like to use the video Destination Canada, found in most tourist shops. I show the section of the video related to a given province or territory, either with the sound off and my own narration for lower levels or with the sound on for higher levels.
Anyone who has taught grammar in a beginner level ESL or EFL class knows that the speed and accuracy with which students complete grammar worksheets is only very weakly correlated with their ability to use the given grammatical structure later in their own speech.
Jigsaws aren’t the only cooperative learning activity that I do in my classroom. Here is a fun activity for reviewing body parts. I divide the class into groups of three and give each group a sheet of chart paper and a felt marker. I ask the students to take turns being the artist.
Adult literacy students range from pre-literate to non-literate to semi-literate to those from non-Roman alphabets. I've had some students who did not know how to hold a pencil. I've had others who had no idea when their birthday was because they came from cultures where no one knew dates or years. But the majority of literacy students I've had came from non-Roman alphabets and had some knowledge of the English alphabet. Some even knew the names of all the letters of the alphabet, but had little knowledge of the sounds of any letters. Trouble writing on the line, confusion between upper and lower case and some letters backwards or reversed are all clues that a student may fit in this category of students.
If you have been off for the summer or part of it, soon it will be time to return to classes. Maybe you are thinking about decorating your classroom. Why not give it a makeover with some affirmations? Our subconscious mind is bombarded with so many messages throughout the day, many of them negative. Affirmations give your subconscious mind new more positive messages to believe in. They literally re-program the mind.
Many new immigrants answer the phone in their own language. A Korean immigrant might answer, "Yabusayo?" A Chinese immigrant might answer, "Wei?" Often their thinking is that most people who call them speak their language anyway and those who don't will understand that they are simply answering in their own language.
Summer is the natural time for a unit on leisure. This unit is suitable for ESL or EFL students of all levels and has many opportunities for fieldtrips. Low beginners can learn the names of activites and practice "can" and "can't". "I can dance." "I can't dance." Higher level students can practice the intricate soft skills required to politely navigate invitations, both in speaking and in writing. Email is an obvious medium for invitations.
We often think of bargaining language as confined to situations like a garage sale or to the purchase of larger items like cars or homes. One of the most common negotiations most people will engage in at some point is who will pay the bill in a restaurant. Not only are there language and soft skills specific to this situation, many cultural assumptions are thrown into the mix. Countries, as well as the cultures within them, differ in their norms about who should pick up the tab and when. Learning the related idioms and other bargaining language but not cracking this cultural code and developing the soft skills to successfully navigate this interaction can lead to social awkwardness as exemplified in the story below.