Avoiding Assignment Abandonment

Many students need to learn that the word “due” has great importance in the academic world. When something is due, it is time to pass in. If students can master this simple three letter word, then their personal life will become much more manageable. If students can learn that an assignment is due, and if it is not done there are consequences, then they are more readily accepting that bills are due, rent/mortgage is due, and so on.

Here are a few suggestions to reinforce the concept of “due”:

Collect it: when the time is up, collect what the student has done. If they want to finish at home, take what they have done, and let them continue at home, but at least you will have in hand what they have done.
Call home and leave yourself a message.
Text yourself and leave yourself a message.
Email yourself and leave yourself a message.
Back up all computer work.

Tip from Robin Letendre

By |February 7th, 2017|ABE, Diploma, ESOL, HiSET, Organization|Comments Off on Avoiding Assignment Abandonment

The Three-Ring Binder


This is an organizational strategy that allows students to keep all of their materials in one place and accessible. If students can “buy into” this strategy, their academic life can become much more manageable.

To have a three-ring binder work best, students must have it divided into sections, use dividers with pockets, a plastic pouch for pencils, pens, and a calculator, and a calendar.

If a student does not understand the need for organization, then this strategy will not work.

Once the student sees that carrying around a three-ring binder with all of their important notes, papers, and assignments is actually helpful, they are more apt to use it.

Tip from Robin Letendre

By |January 30th, 2017|ABE, Diploma, ESOL, GED, Organization|Comments Off on The Three-Ring Binder

Spring Web Room ESOL Student Created Videos

With smartphones and tablets becoming more popular, students have video recording and editing capabilities in the palms of their hands. Instead of just watching educational videos, they can engage in the English language by scripting and creating their own.

See some examples of student created ESOL videos from the Spring International Language Center: http://www.spring.edu/webroom/video.html

Here is a PowerPoint presentation on their video creation unit plan: http://www.spring.edu/webroom/Rohrbach_YouTube.ppt

Want to create videos with your students? Check out these resources:

iPad filming tips: http://teachingwithipad.org/2013/10/30/ipad-filming-tips/

Overview of video editing apps for iOS, PC, Mac, and Android: http://edtechteacher.org/apps/video/

Tip from Tiffany Brand

By |January 2nd, 2017|ESOL, Technology|Comments Off on Spring Web Room ESOL Student Created Videos

Look – Remember – Tell

Tip From: Chris Powers, ESL Mentor

All students need and want to increase their vocabulary. It takes many times of seeing words before they can be used by a student. The more activities and way to recycle vocabulary the better!

This activity is good when presenting a new story or topic. It allows for individuals to absorb as much or as little as they can but increases active time with the vocabulary as it is discussed in small groups.

Choose 10 to 15 words from a reading or topic that you will be working with.
Scramble the words on a piece of paper and give each student a copy face down.
When you say go have each student turn the paper over and study the words. Usually 15-20 seconds depending on the number of words and level of the students.
Next have the students individually write as many words as they remember. Then ask them to write words they think go with the words that they remembered.
Working in pairs or small groups have the students talk about what they think the reading will be about and if the level and time permit write a few sentences on the topic.

Give out a copy of the text to each student and allow time for them to read. Discuss which words they find hard and which words they think the scramble will help them to remember and why.

Remember that the number of words you use to scramble will depend on the level of your students and the length of the reading you will be presenting.

By |December 28th, 2016|ESL, ESOL|Comments Off on Look – Remember – Tell

Five Minute Activities

Five Minute Activities: A Resource Book of Short Activities by Penny Ur and Andrew Wright, Cambridge University Press, 1992, is a little gem. These activities not only are good warm-ups, but also they contain ideas that could be expanded into full lessons by a creative teacher. Although some of the ideas are a little silly, others are truly inspired. In this thin volume, you’ll find 100 ideas that can really spice up your ESOL or even your ABE classroom. This is a great little volume to keep in your school book bag or in your desk at school. The activities are just right when you’ve finished the lesson early or when you’re waiting for some stragglers to get to class.

Tip from Susan Bubp

By |December 7th, 2016|ABE, ESOL|Comments Off on Five Minute Activities

Homework Check and Tutors

It is important that students learn to use their new skills outside of the classroom. After all, isn’t that why they are in class, to learn how to better communicate in the real world? This is where homework comes in. As adult ESL teachers we also know that students have very busy lives outside of class and may not get to do their homework each time it is assigned, but that it is important that they learn to use outside of class what they are learning in class.

As you take the time to review the homework in a following class you find not all have done it, or maybe there are lots of questions from some and none from others (multilevel class enters here!). We also know that having the right answers doesn’t always mean there is comprehension.

This is one way to check homework comprehension and tie it to the real world.

Prepare an answer key or have a TE with answers available for the students as soon as they come to class. The early students get to check first, and check in with each other, on those they didn’t get right. Many times students can explain answers to each other and as more students come in they all become homework tutors! During this time the teacher can work with students who may need teacher time or sit and listen as students explain things to each other. For the teacher, this can be an evaluation of how much the students learned and what needs to be re-taught or reviewed.

If some groups finish a bit earlier there can be a topic of the day to be discussed that will lead to more community building within the class. […]

By |November 1st, 2016|ESOL, Homework, Reading, Speaking|Comments Off on Homework Check and Tutors

Build Class Community

Think of the beginning of the school year or semester as a gathering of people you might know but don’t know each other. If you invited a mixed group of friends to your home what do you do to insure they meet each other, chat and feel comfortable? If you think of your class in this light you will start to build a community of learners! Students will be more comfortable with each other and ready to take on a challenge or give things a try and not fear making errors. Errors are how we all learn!

It is important that learners see the value of each activity. In a typical ESL class, students are asked their names, country, language, career/job and perhaps a bit about their family. If this is not their first ESL class try to imagine how many times they have been asked these questions! Here are a few suggestions for getting this information without directly asking.

Start with names as we all like our names to be used when spoken to or about, and it will lead to answering many of the other questions without asking!

Who were you named for or do you know why you were given your name?
What do you think of when you hear your name – is there a memory of a friend or family member calling your name?
Write your name and then draw something or cut a picture of something you like for each letter. C-Carrot H-hydrangea R-running I-ice cream E-eight
Cut out the letters of your name from a magazine and paste them on a name tent at your seat for all to see.
Have you changed your name? Why?

Students can then talk more […]

By |October 18th, 2016|Community-Building, ESOL|Comments Off on Build Class Community

Project Based Learning

There are many things that we want our ESL students to know about their community, the United States, and the culture that they now live in. So many new “How do I…?” “Where can I find…?” “What is the best..?” If we think of the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

What do the students want and need to know about their community? If they have lived there for a while, when they first arrived what did they want/need to know right away?

This activity can incorporate all levels and talents. Have the class work on a Community Guide for ESL students in (name of your program or class) 20xx-20xx.

Students can include local hospitals, clinics, physicians, dentists, schools, parks, libraries, bus schedules, grocery stores, restaurants (with reviews) and much more. The list of what would be included should be developed by the class. Pictures can be found on the internet, in old books or magazines or drawn by students. Students with computer skills could gather the information and put it into a Word document to be copied and shared by the class. If new things are found throughout the year they could be added to the list. Each year going forward the guide could be updated with changes in the community.

Tip from Chris Powers

By |May 12th, 2016|Adult Education, ESOL, Projects|Comments Off on Project Based Learning

Guide for Helping Advanced ESOL Learners with Transitions

The Global Talent Bridge is an organization dedicated to helping skilled immigrants transition into professional careers. This site contains information about academic and career advice and financial aid for immigrants.


From Pam Shore

By |April 18th, 2015|Career Information, College Transitions, ESOL, Transitions|Comments Off on Guide for Helping Advanced ESOL Learners with Transitions

Reading and Intonation for ESL Students

Choral reading is often suggested as a way to get students to practice reading and pronunciation as a group. This often can sound like a chorus of Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Not everyone is together and the end is not in unison.

Discuss with students that when we read we have natural pauses that may not be marked with a comma. Depending on the level of your class choose a sentence or a paragraph and read it naturally to the students. Have them mark the pauses or stops with slash marks. Next ask the students to read it back to you and ask what they notice. They will read more clearly as a group.

This will also help them speak with others outside the classroom and in real life situations.

An example:

Therefore/ when one reads out loud/ they must be sure to read clearly/ for the listener.

From Chris Powers

By |March 9th, 2015|ESOL, Reading, Speaking|Comments Off on Reading and Intonation for ESL Students