This manual is for you, the new volunteer instructor, who may have little or no previous experience teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to adults. It is informally written, jargon-free, and intended to inspire and help you understand your role as an ESL instructor. It provides a realistic picture of what to expect in the classroom and, hopefully, it lessens any anxiety you might have about becoming a teacher. Subjects in this manual include: how language skills are learned, how to keep students interested, and how to get your students to actively participate in class. This text does not pretend to provide you with all you need to know about teaching English as a Second language, but I do hope to provide you with enough information so that you can get started!
Published by Catholic Charities Hogar Hispano
Copyright 2001, 2003
Table of Contents
I. Introduction to the Hogar Hispano ESL Program 1
l Thank You
l A Program of Survival Skills
l A Critical Need
l Catholic Charities Hogar Hispano
l Hogar Hispano ESL Program
l Program Goals
II. Our Volunteers 5
l Why Volunteer?
l You’re a Natural
III. Our Students 7
l Who are they?
l Why do students take our courses?
IV. Before You Begin 9
l Needs Assessment
l How Do Adults Learn?
l Learning Styles
l Learning a Language
l Let Students Speak
V. Lesson Planning 14
VI. Teaching Strategies 17
· Teaching Vocabulary
l Teaching Reading
l Teaching Writing
l Teaching Pronunciation
l General Tips
l Teaching Multi-Level Classes
VII. Skills Assessment and Feedback 24
VIII. Building Community in the Classroom 26
● Base Curriculum on Learners’ Lives
· Break from the Traditional Teacher Role
· Foster Relationships Among Students
IX. Student Retention Tips 29
● Cancellations and Substitutes
● Training Opportunities and Other Teacher Resources
● Leave Classrooms In Good Order
● No Children In the Classrooms
XI. Have Fun 32
Thank you for your decision to get involved. It’s people like you that make this program possible.
Volunteering for Hogar Hispano is an incredibly rewarding experience that offers give you a unique opportunity to serve your community and to make a difference in people’s lives. As an ESL instructor, you will learn new skills, make new friends, get job experience and explore different cultures. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are needed and appreciated. You’ll find yourself learning as much from your students as they learn from you.
“No man can become rich without himself enriching others.”
A Program of Survival Skills
And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. --Leviticus 19:33-34
Nonacademic English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction is designed to empower immigrants who have limited proficiency in speaking and understanding English with survival language skills so they can successfully assimilate into American society.
As an ESL instructor for Hogar Hispano, you will be concentrating on teaching survival English for everyday situations. We want to help students understand basic English and assist them in making themselves understood. Our focus is on teaching functional language skills relevant to our students’ daily lives.
Learning a language is not easy! It is unrealistic to think that you will produce fluent English speakers after they complete a single course. Language learning is a gradual process, and it takes years to reach native-like proficiency. Progress can be slow, but over time you will witness growth in both your students’ language skills and in their self-confidence.
A Critical Need
ESL programs across the US are in great demand. Currently, in Northern Virginia, demand for adult ESL courses is greater than the supply. Our program and other community-based volunteer programs are working hard to meet this need. Although our program has expanded significantly during the past couple of years, we continue to fall far short of demand.
Newcomers desperately need our help in acquiring language skills.
Immigrants must acquire a basic knowledge of English if they are to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Knowledge of English is important for securing most jobs, particularly better paying ones. Also, English is the key that opens the doors to education, the surest way for immigrants to raise themselves out of poverty. Without language skills, immigrants remain mired down in menial, low-wage jobs, unable to reach their goals of a better life.
The United States is and was a nation of immigrants working to improve their lives. By reaching out to help newcomers, we honor our history and the very essence of what it means to be an American. We, as Americans, believe every person is created equal, but until our immigrant community learns English, it will remain an underclass.
Catholic Charities Hogar Hispano
Hogar Hispano is part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
Catholic Charities programs provide aid in ways that strengthen individual dignity, family life and social justice.
Hogar Hispano was founded in 1981 to serve the needs of the low-income immigrant population in Northern Virginia. It assists immigrants in becoming self-sufficient members of American society through outreach programs including immigration legal services, employment assistance, and ESL classes.
Hogar Hispano staff includes the Director, immigration attorneys, several paralegals, secretaries, citizenship outreach workers, two ESL coordinators, and many, many dedicated volunteers. As English teachers, you may encounter students who need assistance. Please refer them to the Hogar Hispano office (703) 534-9805, and we will do all that we can to serve them.
Here’s a detailed list of all the services we offer. Keep it in mind in case any of your students come to you for help!
LEGAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Provides low-cost, bilingual (English and Spanish) immigration legal services. To make an appointment, call (703) 534-9805, extension 240.
¤ Consultations ¤ Work Permits
¤ Family Petitions ¤ TPS (Temporary Protected Status)
¤ Labor Certifications (Employer-sponsored) ¤ NACARA Applications
¤ Religious Workers ¤ Asylum
¤ Naturalization ¤ Waivers
¤ Non-immigrant visas ¤ Deportation/Removal Defense
¤ VAWA (victims of domestic violence) ¤ All Other Immigration Matters
AGAPE Job Hotline - (703) 534-2559: Walk-in Hours Monday-Friday, 9 -1
¤ Connects people offering and seeking work. After 5:00 p.m., AGAPE becomes an emergency assistance hotline for counseling, information and referral.
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (ESL) DEPARTMENT: Provides low-cost ESL instruction to adults. For more information, call (703) 534-9805, extension 222.
¤ Four levels of English instruction offered. ¤ 24 Northern Virginia class sites.
¤ Welcoming environment. ¤ Scholarships available
¤ No documentation or residency requirements.
¤ Convenient class times -- mornings, evenings and weekends.
Hogar Hispano’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Program
Hogar Hispano’s ESL Program offers immigrants basic English language knowledge. The program emphasizes the four essential language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. We advocate a student-centered approach that encourages active participation, flexibility and cultural sensitivity.
Our program offers classes throughout Northern Virginia at convenient times and locations. Class sites include parishes, community centers, government buildings, work sites, the Hogar Hispano office, day laborer centers. In order to be accessible to all students, classes are offered nights, mornings and weekends. We try to keep the cost of the class as low as possible without jeopardizing the existence of the program. We owe much thanks to the volunteer coordinators, teachers and teachers' aides who work at each site for making the program successful.
٠ Provide students with basic English language skills so they can perform
successfully within the larger community.
٠ Promote multicultural communication and understanding.
٠ Enhance students' self-confidence so they will seek out further education.
٠ Offer survival information and coping skills.
٠ Provide information and referral for social services.
٠ Foster students’ self esteem by helping them be successful and showing them
that they CAN do it!
Who Are We ?
I am an engineer, a mathematician, a biochemist, and a computer expert.
I am an elementary school teacher, a social worker, and a secretary.
I am a college professor, a writer, an optician, and a receptionist.
I am a federal employee, an analyst, a researcher, and a nurse.
I am a novice teacher and a professional ESL instructor.
I am a lawyer, a counselor, a naturalist, and an artist.
I am on active duty and a retired military officer.
I devote myself to many religious faiths.
I work alone and with my spouse.
I am native and an immigrant.
I work and I am retired.
I am of the clergy.
I know no age.
Who am I?
I am a volunteer coordinator,
teacher and aide of the Hogar Hispano ESL Program.
There is a wonderful story of a person who once stood before God, with a heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. “Dear God-look at all the suffering, the anguish and distress in your world! Why don’t you send help?”
God responded, “I did send help, I sent you.”
“As an ESL teacher I have been able to develop friendships with individuals from different countries and cultures, which has broadened my perspective on life and living, both in the US and elsewhere.” T. Stein, Hogar Hispano ESL Instructor
“What has been an unexpected treat for me has been just how enjoyable my classes are because of my students’ positive and eager attitude to master the English language. I’m amazed to see the growth in confidence in my students and to know I played a small part in making that happen” -L. Lissenburg, Hogar Hispano ESL Instructor
This program asks volunteers to share their working knowledge of English, something we, as native speakers, naturally possess. Teachers do not need degrees in English or Education. They do not have to be grammar experts, nor do they have to speak another language. A degree and advanced training will not necessarily make someone a good ESL instructor. Remember that amateurs built the Ark, and professionals built the Titanic!
With that said, how do you learn to teach what you already know to adults? Hogar Hispano will provide an orientation, a teacher’s manual, teaching tips via the ESL newsletter and information on ongoing teacher training opportunities. Be sure to take advantage of the many teacher training opportunities throughout the year. You will meet many great people like yourself and become inspired! If you would like to observe a teacher in action, please contact the ESL Coordinator.
An important component of your job as an ESL instructor is to serve as a bridge to the larger English speaking community. Most of our students are socially isolated and lack opportunities to get to know English speakers. The vast majority of our students live in ethnic enclaves, and they can go all day without speaking a word of English. They live, work and socialize with other persons of their ethnic group. Students tell us that they do not have American friends, and that they are unfamiliar with US customs and culture. ESL teachers serve as defacto ambassadors for the rest of American community. Students’ perceptions of you will undoubtedly color their impressions of all Americans. It is your encouragement and acceptance that will make it easier for them to become more involved in their community.
Who are they?
Students are mainly Central American and South American immigrants predominately from El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Columbia, Honduras and
Peru. Some come from Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries. They are between the ages of 18 and 90! Their immigration status varies.
For many, this will be their first attempt to learn English. They are likely to have enrolled in our program because classes are very accessible and low-cost. There is little required of applicants at registration. They may have enrolled in our program because they feel somewhat intimated by the larger, more institutionalized programs. Students tell us they feel comfortable in our classes held at their parishes or in their communities and that they would not be taking ESL classes if it were not for this program.
Adult learners are often afraid to attend ESL programs because they feel learning English is just too daunting a task for them. Many lack substantive formal primary education and have always thought of themselves as “unlearned.” They are afraid people will laugh at them in class and perhaps are fearful of making fools of themselves in the classroom. Adults who have been out of the classroom for many years may be nervous about returning to school, thinking themselves as too old to learn English.
Our students are very hard working and have many responsibilities. They are often supporting a number of family members both here and back in their homeland. They don’t have much leisure time. Many students hold more than one job, so they don’t have much time for homework.
Many of our students have experienced significant trauma as a result of their move to the US. Many of our married students have had to leave spouses behind and are hoping to be reunited by bringing them here once they have the financial means to do so. Moms and Dads often have to leave young children behind with relatives until they get established. Many families have been separated for years.
Why Do Students Take Our Courses?
Our students want to learn English for many reasons: to obtain jobs that will help support themselves and their families; to read to their children; to become a US citizen; to speak with their children’s school teachers; to become more involved with the community; to improve their ability to talk to their English-speaking neighbors; to open bank accounts and more.
Students come to class and give up their precious free time because they want to learn. You can emphasize the value of learning English by focusing on real-life applications. For example, at the beginning level, don't teach students the present perfect progressive tense; teach them how to call 911!
They are not concerned with perfection, getting an “A” in your class, grammatical details, or eliminating their accents. Rather, they hope to acquire some useful language tools that will help them make a better life in America.
A needs assessment is a way of finding out why students want to learn English and what they want to learn. Knowing your students’ motivations can help you plan a meaningful curriculum, ensuring that you are teaching relevant materials the students WANT to know. Students are more motivated because they feel they are learning something useful. Adults learn better when they pursue personal goals set by themselves and also, it’s easier to learn by doing. Students are more likely to pay attention, retain the information, persevere and come back.
Here are some guidelines to help you assess students’ needs. Remember this is a NEEDS assessment, not a skills assessment.
A variety of methods can be employed to assess student needs:
After you’ve assessed your students, it’s essential to translate the results into achievable goals. Make sure to be realistic; you may not be able to teach everything that students want to learn during the semester. So focus in on specific goals (ie., how to ask for the price of something at the store) which the group can learn well, instead of broad goals that may not be achievable. Remember to write the goal on the board during class to keep everyone (including yourself!) focused on the goal. Solicit student input to reaffirm the goals throughout the course, and always let the students in on the game plan – this will get students involved and invested in their studies and keep them motivated.
How Do Adults Learn?
It is important to keep in mind that our students are adults. There are unique characteristics of adult learners differentiating them children. Unlike kids, adult students know why they want to learn and they are motivated when they feel the information they are learning is relevant to their personal goals.
Adults bring a wealth of life experience and learning to the classroom. As teachers of adults, we need to keep this in mind and make sure that we acknowledge their wisdom and are sensitive to their cultures. It is also important to maintain respect for the learners’ formed opinions, even if we don’t personally agreed with them. For example, you may be shocked at the “machismo” point of view some of your male students might have
Since your students are adults, please do not teach them using books intended for children. Adult learners might find the use of these books humiliating. Be careful not to speak to your adult learners in a condescending tone, or in a voice you would normally reserve for children. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to slip into such a mode when teaching the alphabet, numbers, months, or the seasons. Instead of children’s books use magazine pictures, posters, and real-life objects to liven-up adult instruction.
People have natural preferences as to the way they learn. These preferences include learning by sight, hearing, moving or doing, and handling or touching. All students can learn through each learning style, but we each have preferences and strengths. When planning a lesson, keep these learning styles in mind and accommodate students by providing a variety of learning methods.
· Many people learn with their eyes. They need to see or read the information they are learning. These students need lots of visuals—pictures, drawing, illustrations, and books.
· Many learn best when they hear the language. They learn the most when memorizing and conducting oral drills.
· Others learn best through movement and by doing. They retain more information by acting out roles and performing activities. Role playing, making things in class or playing games like “Simon Says” would all be great activities for these students.
· Still others seem to learn best when they can handle the information manually or use their bodies in some manner. Be sure to bring in realia - the actual object you are talking about - and let them handle it. Pass things around.
Learning a Language
Language is acquired in the following order:
1. Listening--A student will first recognize a language when she/he hears it.
2. Speaking--After aural comprehension, the student will then learn to speak (produce) the language himself/herself.
3. Reading--As the student progresses, the student will be able to read the language.
4. Writing--Finally, he/she will be able to write the language.
Keep in mind that basic or beginning classes focus primarily on listening and speaking. As the student progresses, he/she will be asked to perform more reading and writing.
Introduce new material with books closed and work orally. Then, when you feel the students understand, have them open their texts and work on reading and writing. For more on teaching dialogues and vocabulary, see the Appendix.
Beginning students are likely to understand more than they are able to speak. While they cannot yet produce language for themselves, they can probably understand a bit more than you would expect. Remember: it is easier to receive
language than it is to produce language.
Let Students Speak
Many new volunteers are surprised when they learn how ESL is taught to immigrants. Most people think that ESL is instructed using the same traditional methods that were used back when they were in high school learning French or Spanish. These techniques included rote memorization of dialogs, grammar rules and verb tenses. The teacher did most of the talking and class content certainly was not based on student needs. Practical application of language skills was never an issue since most students lacked the opportunity to use the language in any meaningful way outside of class.
This is NOT how we teach ESL. Teaching ESL is NOT like teaching other adult education courses, and that’s why it’s so much fun! Instead of standing in front of a class and lecturing, your job as the ESL instructor is to draw the students out and get them to do the talking. Teaching English is about interaction with your students. Don’t think of yourself as the professor, think of yourself as learning facilitator. As a facilitator, your goal is to get the students to speak at least 50% of the time. A good teacher is always working on ways to increase student participation. Take this as a challenge and be creative! Use the games and activities listed at the back of this book! Your students will be doing most of their learning in the classroom. Sadly, this is probably their only forum for communicating in English. Make sure they use this opportunity fully!
An interactive ESL classroom, like the following one, maximizes the students' opportunity to practice and learn.
The lion's share of the class should be spent on listening and speaking.
In getting started, students may spend more time simply repeating what you say. Give the students a chance to try out their English “chops.” Have students repeat words and short phrases more than once, so they can get the feel of speaking English. Students must be given plenty of speaking opportunities. New ESL teachers tend to talk too much—get those students working! Students should work extensively in pairs and groups so they can practice with one another. This is the only way they will get sufficient talking time. You don’t have the time to talk to every single student individually; so let them talk to each other! Students need to practice dialogs, quiz each other, and interview each other using new vocabulary and questionnaires. All activities requiring active student participation should be frequently used in the classroom. See the appendix for tried and true suggestions. Remember, a noisy class is a good class!
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Lessons should flow from teacher-controlled, guided practice to less controlled and freer practice.
You MUST have a plan. You cannot walk into a class cold, “wing it,” and expect to teach a meaningful lesson. Teaching ESL is not simply talking in English. Your class needs structure and students will be more comfortable having some idea of what to expect. The class doesn't have to be so structured that every second is scheduled, but having a plan will make your class run more smoothly and efficiently.
WHAT’S YOUR OBJECTIVE?
To begin planning your class, think about what you want your students to be able to do at the end of the class. This will be your objective for the day—and you need to keep it in mind when planning and teaching your lesson.
SET THE NET: Create a Comprehension Filter
Your job as the teacher is to break down the objective into comprehensible “blocks” for the students, and to build one layer of comprehension at a time. For example, if your goal is to learn to read a menu, don’t bring in the whole menu on the first day! Remember, you can’t teach it all. Instead, pre-teach just one section of the menu, such as “beverages”, and then let the students practice these words using exercises, games, dialogues, etc. Try to filter out extraneous information that may confuse the students because by setting boundaries you will ensure that students really learn the objective. Then both you and the students will begin to see progress and feel encouraged to keep going!
1. Warm-up - get students thinking in English.
Let students be successful with the first thing they attempt in class by basing the warm-up on review material.
The “appetizer,” or warm-up, should give students a small taste of familiar English and motivate them before getting into the “meat and potatoes” of your lesson plan. The warm-up should reinforce the previous lessons by reviewing old material in a new or different way.
A planned warm-up rewards early or on-time students by immediately encouraging them to "think" in English while waiting for the rest of the class to arrive. This also gives you a chance to breathe, collect your thoughts, get organized and take attendance.
Your warm-up might be some simple true/false or fill-in-the-blank questions written on the board. You could write sentences with errors in them, and ask students to correct them. A dialog could be written on the board for students to copy and practice, or you might scramble some sentences or words and ask students to unscramble them. A simple crossword puzzle or word search would be fun. The possibilities are endless!
2. Presentation of new material
This next portion of the class is where you present the students with new information, which will enable them to accomplish the objective. This will be the most controlled segment of the classes. In this section, you will probably do more talking than in any other. You should begin your presentation orally, with the textbooks closed. Here, introduce new concepts and vocabulary, by demonstration and with visuals. Preteach the information orally and have students repeat until you are satisfied they can pronounce the words correctly and with some ease. Don’t be afraid you will bore your students with some drilling. Everyone can use the practice! If you are introducing new vocabulary, make sure you don't teach more than 15 words. Do not introduce too many new words at once, or you will overwhelm and discourage your class. After your oral presentation of the material, you may wish to have the students open up their textbooks to the page containing this information. Now you can read along with them in their textbooks, so they can see the new vocabulary/grammar in print.
3. Let them try it out!
In this section of your class, the students should be asked to practice the information in a freer setting, preferably among themselves. You will want to design an activity that can be completed by the students in small groups or pairs. This activity should allow the students to use the new material. These activities could be jigsaw exercises, information gap worksheets, interviews, questionnaires, problem-solving tasks, information charts, you name it—anything that will get the students talking and actively working with the new material. Be brief as possible when giving directions. Check out all the activities listed in the appendix of this guide. At this point, the teacher should not be directing the class, but walking around from group to group, ensuring they understand what is asked of them. The teacher takes more of a back seat to the class at this point, working to encourage, but no longer leading the class. At first, it may be difficult to get your students to work with one another, as they are probably unaccustomed to this type of learning environment. Your students will improve in their group work once they get to know and understand what is being asked of them.
4. Evaluation: A Comprehension Check.
During this last portion of the class, focus on checking for comprehension, or their ability to accomplish the objective you defined for the lesson. I usually make up a work-sheet/quiz based on the information just learned in class and have students work independently. If you don’t have access to a copier, no problem. Write your worksheet on the blackboard and have the students copy it on paper (a great transcription exercise). The quiz should cover the lesson, and could be T/F, fill in the blank, or whatever. If there is time, students can self-correct, or trade papers with a neighbor as you go over it. I personally like to collect them and go over them at my leisure to decide what needs to be reviewed and to get an idea as to “where” the class is. I usually write positive comments on the quizzes and hand them back to the students with some words of encouragement and maybe a sticker. This part of the class is very important because the student (and teacher) can “see” what they accomplished in your class. The quizzes are testimony to their learning and to your teaching!
When planning your lessons, remember that the textbook is intended to help both the teacher and student. It’s a valuable tool, so use it wisely! The textbooks used in Hogar Hispano ESL classes are helpful because they:
1. Provide well thought-out methodological framework for class.
2. Allow for proper pacing of class and are logically sequenced.
3. Engage students by including interactive activities.
4. Supply quizzes to ensure progress.
5. Can be taken home so students can review.
6. Are based on student surveys. We included what the students told us they
want to learn.
7. Provide continuity since each book is used for two semesters. Students know
what to expect and can read ahead if they like.
Most of you will be teaching with Hogar Hispano’s own Textbook, Speak Out in English. This text was designed over a period of several years specifically for our students in Northern Virginia. This book is uniquely aligned with its teaching philosophy – a non-threatening, student-centered approach that focuses on survival skills for adult immigrants in the Washington, D.C. area. The title of the book reflects its dual purpose: to encourage students not only to learn English but also to feel comfortable using the language in daily situations and to advocate for themselves. It is a content-based curriculum with real-life activities for every lesson, such as how to:
q Read a Virginia bus schedule
q Call 911
q Fill out an application for a grocery store discount card
q Gain access to social services in Northern Virginia
q Apply for a job
q Ask for directions
q Open a bank account
You don't have to follow the book in a particular sequence. For example, if a student needs to know body parts for an upcoming doctor's visit, it’s OK to skip to the health section.
Hogar Hispano staff also wrote a teacher’s guide that accompanies Speak Out in English. This manual was written specifically for the volunteer teacher with no previous experience, so there are detailed, step-by-step suggestions on how to use every worksheet and activity in the student book. We strongly encourage you to follow these guidelines and to supplement the text with other materials such as visuals and props. You will find that the teacher’s guide is extremely user friendly and that the activities are well designed to get the students talking and involved.
Once you’ve taught the dialog or vocabulary, the students are ready to practice. Luckily, the teachers’ guide not only offers clear instructions on how to use the practice exercises in the book, but also suggests games or activities to reinforce the lesson.
Visuals, Visuals, Visuals
New teachers often ask, “how can I teach students anything if they don’t understand me?" My answer: visuals. Visuals can be anything from a simple chalk drawing, an index card with magazine picture pasted on it, a poster, a photo, an object, an action that you perform—anything the students can see to help them guess the meaning of the words you are teaching. Flash cards, with the word written on one side and its picture on the flip side, are great—students can use them to quiz each other. Visuals should be clear and simple. Students should be encouraged to figure out the meaning of some words by their context or through visuals.
1) When talking about my family, I draw pictures of my children on the board or bring in photos of them to pass around. (We all love to talk about our kids!)
2) Teach simple vocabulary by saying, "This is a pen" and holding up a pen.
By using structured exercises and visuals, your class will begin to understand.
From here, you can go in many different directions. For example, you can pass the pencil to a student and ask “who has the pencil?" Be very careful not to introduce too many new words too quickly. Adjectives related to color, size, quantity, and location can be added as students learn.
Keep It Related
Students should be taught lists of related words. For example, teach the words for the parts of the body together. Encourage dictionary use, but don’t let beginners look up every word. Get students guessing new words through the use of context clues, illustrations, and language patterns. One of the best dictionaries to use is the Monolingual New Oxford Picture Dictionary by E.C. Parnwell. This dictionary offers English terms with pictures for explanation. For more tips to teaching vocabulary, see the "How to Teach Vocabulary" sheet located in the appendix of the Hogar Hispano Teacher Toolbox.
Don’t offer several words for the same thing. For example, if you introduce the word “pants” stick with that word—don’t also introduce “trousers” and “jeans” as well. Offer them vocabulary they can put to use immediately so they will remember it.
The Spanish language has many words similar in sound and meaning to English words. These words are called cognates. They are easy for your learners to pick-up, and you can use them to help boost student confidence and increase their comprehension. Try distributing the Spanish/English cognates worksheet located in this manual in the appendix to your students. It might give them the extra confidence they need to start speaking out!
Teaching Reading: Lend a Hand
Students’ abilities to read and write will range greatly. The majority of our students are literate, but some may have limited skills. If students in your class are struggling with reading, you will need to help them out. Before starting to read, discuss the subject thoroughly. Preteach any hard words, write them on the board and show pictures. You may wish to read the passage to the class first or have your stronger readers read the section first. Have students repeat orally what you read. Ask questions to check comprehension. Have students read aloud to each other. Students should not only read their textbooks. They should be taught to understand newspaper advertisements, circulars, want ads, classified abbreviations, recipes, labels, prescription directions, flyers that can be found on local bulletin boards, and street signs.
Teaching Writing: Provide a Framework
After students learn information orally, they should be presented the information in written form. Each class should include the opportunity for students to write. Transcribing short phrases and words directly from the board is a great place to start. You can start with a fill-in-the-blank letter exercise (i.e.: c_air) Then you can move to fill in the missing word in sentences (i.e.: this __ a chair). Remember: producing the written word is very difficult and students will need lots of guided exercises. Dictation is another great way to practice listening and writing skills.
Make sure students have lots of real-life opportunities to practice writing items —for example, have your students fill out simple forms/applications, and checks. Many of our students have checking accounts, but they don’t know how to fill out the checks properly! Once they are able to produce guided writing, then students can move on to keeping journals and diaries.
Kat? Byke? Communication is critical— correct spelling is not, so don’t worry about a few misspelled words. Also, as long as the writing is legible, don’t worry too much about penmanship.
English has many sounds that differ from sounds in other languages (and vice versa). When speaking English, many words require the tongue to be used against the teeth. Speakers of other languages may feel a bit embarrassed when asked to use their tongue in a more overt way. You will need to encourage them and demonstrate for them where the tongue is placed when speaking English. One way to do this is to give everyone lollipops! Ask students to hold the unwrapped lollipops in front of their mouths. Practice saying words with the "th" sound, and remind students their tongue should touch the lollipop every time they say the "th" sound.
Students cannot be expected to lose their accent while speaking English. This is not our goal. We want to help them be understood. As long as they are understood, do not concern yourself too much about their accents. Serious accent-reduction efforts should be reserved for the advanced-level students only.
Don’t Overdo Grammar
Many teachers wonder how to teach grammar in the ESL classroom. Grammar should only be introduced after students have practiced language in some meaningful way. The focus is on communicating. Grammar is picked up during the communication process. Trying to explain complex grammar rules to beginning ESL students will only result in confusion. While we can speed language acquisition along by introducing some basic grammar rules, students, will be discouraged from speaking out if saddled with too many rules. Avoid trying to explain irregularities of English grammar. Try to stick to simple, regular examples when possible. Also, avoid using too many grammar terms. When you introduce grammar, use simple charts to explain.
Students should be corrected by modeling correct grammar. For example, if the student says, “She have five brothers,” you might say, “Oh, you mean, she has five brothers?” Do not try to explain the error. This information is too burdensome for the student. Language is learned by listening and by imitating correct speech patterns. Do not interrupt students who are talking to make a correction because they will stop participating if they are afraid of making mistakes.
We want to teach English as it is spoken in everyday casual conversation. Teach them "street" English! It is appropriate, for example, to teach students contractions—I’m, you’re, he’s—as this is the way we speak and contractions are what students are going to hear. Speak normally and in complete sentences. For example, say, “my name is Jane,” not “me, Jane.” The ESL classroom is not a bad Tarzan movie! Don’t speak excessively slowly. Speak clearly so that everyone can hear. Please do not make the mistake of speaking loudly as if this will help students understand. They are not deaf!
Don’t allow a few students to monopolize your class. Make sure you don’t call on the same people all the time. Encourage your timid students to speak up by making them feel comfortable. To keep class democratic, try pulling names out of a hat if you are going to call on students. You can hand out tokens (coins, paper slips, poker chips, or candy—the best) to students. Each student gets the same number of tokens. Each time a student speaks, he/she must hand in (or eat) a token. Once a student runs out of tokens, he/she can no longer speak. Those who have tokens must use them up!
Although tempting, please refrain as much as possible from using Spanish or any other language besides English in the classroom for many reasons.
1) Your students need to be exposed to as much English as possible. Your goal is to teach them how to cope in the community, and by speaking their language yourself, or allowing them to speak in their native tongues actually undermines this goal. Speaking the students’ native language serves only as a temporary crutch.
2) Teachers who offer translations to students encourage students to continue to think in Spanish and then to translate into English when performing class work. This is an extremely taxing way to speak a second language. The student in this situation is working extra hard and actually doing twice as much work. First, the student must hear the word in English, then understand it in Spanish, and then produce the information once again in English. How exhausting! We want the student to think in English and then produce language in English. A student who is mentally translating a language will never become a fluent speaker.
3) Not all of our students are Spanish speakers! What's your Ethiopian student going to do if you speak Spanish?
Once you make it clear to your students in a friendly way that Spanish is forbidden in class, students can get down to the business of learning English. (One teacher I know made the students hand over one of their shoes every time they spoke Spanish. It resulted in a stinky, but "no Spanish" classroom!) You will need to remind them about the class rule from time to time.
With all this said, there are some situations when Spanish can be used effectively. The two I can think of are during the assessment and the discussion of the students’ goals. As these topics are both fairly advanced, you may wish to use Spanish, if you happen to speak it.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Students need many opportunities to practice new material so you will need to repeat new concepts often. Don’t be afraid of boring your students. They will need the practice. Try repeating the material in subsequent classes, but also teach the material in a different way. This gives the students a better chance to catch on.
The Biggest Tip of All: BE FLEXIBLE
The greatest advice a new instructor needs to heed is to be flexible. Don’t despair if things don’t work out how you planned. You may have to repeat what you thought your class already knew, or the great presentation you planned may flop. Be ready for surprises. Always overplan—have extra material to use in class in case students don’t respond well to your lesson. If you have an activity the class really enjoys and you run out of time, continue the activity the following class!
To be perfectly honest, all of our ESL classes are multilevel, which presents a real challenge to Instructors. While some of your students are well educated in their native language, others are not. Some of your students have lived in the US for a long time and have picked up language skills “in the street” and some students have been here only a week. Some of your students will be senior citizens, full of wisdom, and some of your students will be 18 years old. Some of your students may be in your class because the time is convenient for them, not necessarily because the class is the best level for them.
Because language acquisition involves a number of skills, people learn at different rates. Some people seem to have a knack for languages and pick it up faster than others. Learners who have contact with English speakers during the week will learn the language faster than those who do not. Students who are able to attend classes regularly will move ahead of those who do not. Students who are not afraid to speak out and make mistakes will also learn faster than those who are shy.
Many of our students do not hold a high school degree from their native country. They may have dropped-out at a young age in order to help their families. There is a direct correlation between the level of native language education and the ability to acquire a second language—those who have more education in their native language are likely to learn English faster than those who do not. Of course, everyone CAN learn English; it just might take some longer than others. Those with higher levels of education simply have a more solid frame of reference from which to begin learning English. Those students that did learn English in class in their homeland are most likely to be able to read and write a bit, but have limited-speaking ability.
Another reason why we have so many multilevel classes is that we try to keep our classes open to new students for as long as possible. This means that students may enter the program if there is space in the classroom and if the teacher is willing to accept additional students. Students that were in the class from the beginning will have the advantage and be more advanced than the newcomers.
TIPS for TEACHING MULTILEVEL CLASSES
1. Mini-independent units. Center each class around a particular theme or topic, so that something new is introduced to the entire class. This way you can be sure that students who have been in the class will continue to learn. At the same time, each class should contain some review material to serve as reinforcement for continuing students and as foundation for new students. Students cannot be expected to learn information that is presented only once. Information will need to be reintroduced frequently.
2. Groups. Students who are more advanced can be grouped together and given reading and writing assignments based upon your presentation that day. Less advanced students can be grouped together in small units of three or four and asked to perform simpler tasks such as practicing a dialog, filling in the blanks, answering true/false questions, quizzing each other using visuals, simply reading aloud to one another, etc.
3. Peer Tutoring. Match-up more advanced students in pairs with less advanced students and have the more advanced classmates teach/coach the less advanced students on the topic they have just learned. Teaching something to someone else is one of the best ways to really internalize something and learn it. It’s a win/win for both students. Do not, however, constantly rely on this method—it can be wearing on the better students if overused. Pairing your class veterans with newcomers, to help the newcomer adjust more quickly to your class.
4. Don’t start over. Do not start at the beginning again with the addition of each new student. You will lose your “old” students this way. A certain amount of review is required for students to retain information, but if you are constantly starting from zero, your students will become extremely bored and frustrated with you.
5. Team Teaching. If you are fortunate enough to be co-teaching or have an aide working in the classroom with you, you can work more effectively in a multilevel class. While one teacher is instructing the class, the second volunteer should walk around the room to see that everyone understands the lesson. If a student is having difficulties or seems lost, the second teacher or aide could quietly work with the student to get them up to speed. Another option is to have the second instructor and the student take two chairs out into the hallway and practice for a short period. This one-to one teaching also allows the teacher to evaluate the student’s progress and get to know personal needs.
6. Divide and Conquer. If you have more than one teacher available, split the class up. The less advanced students can work with one volunteer at a slower pace and the more advanced students can move ahead a bit—focusing on reading and writing skills with the other volunteer.
7. Extra activities. Have activities ready for students who finish exercises
faster than the rest of the class. I like to keep sets of flashcards on hand
for the quicker students. I can them send them to the back of the class to
work together until the rest of the class finishes. Make sure everyone is
busy all the time!
Assessing students’ progress in learning English is difficult. Students start class with varying abilities and progress depends upon many variables: attendance, determination, exposure to English outside of the class, previous educational experience, and more. Gains made in classes are small as learning a language takes time. Standardized tests are inadequate in measuring anything in our students, as they do not often test what is actually learned in class. Yet, it is very important to show students that they are making progress. They need to feel that progress (however small) is taking place.
Help them learn something concrete each class. Make sure it is something that they, the students, want to learn. During the evaluation period at the end of the class, give them a short quiz on the information they just learned. The students will see that they have learned something new by the results of the quiz. If the students feel the satisfaction of accomplishing what they set out to do, they will be motivated to continue studying.
Probably the best way to follow the progress of a student is to do so informally.
According to the Pima County Adult Education ESOL curriculum, there are a number of informal assessment procedures teachers can use:
1. Observing individual student performance in lessons.
2. Reviewing lessons to see if students can use what they learned.
3. Using what students have learned in class in games.
4. Pre-and-post testing of lesson content.
5. Getting immediate feedback from students. Ask them if they understand.
6. Conducting oral assessments with students.
7. Having students apply what they have learned in class activities, skits, role
8. Keep folders of student work and journals—so work can be compared over
9. Set goals with students and updating them periodically.
You can also use dictation, fill-in-the-blanks, self-evaluation, or dictations to see if students learned new material. Yes/No cards provide a quick and easy way to check comprehension; for example, hold up a picture of a man and ask “Is this a woman?” You’ll know they’ve caught on when you see most students hold up their “no” cards.
Show Students’ Success
No matter how large or small their gains in language learning, adults appreciate being recognized for their efforts. Acknowledge hard work by offering praise and providing rewards, such as:
-Candy for the winning team -handshake
-Letter of Appreciation -small prizes
-Informal encouragement -certificates
-Asking a student to help you teach or lead a small group discussion
Be positive! Your behavior will affect how much students participate. If you listen carefully, smile and encourage the students, they will feel more confident about speaking out. Be sure to offer lots of positive feedback to encourage participation. The best way to do this is to simply thank people for participating. You might say, “thanks for asking that question,” or “thanks for that comment,” or “thanks for your input.”
As a teacher with a positive attitude, please avoid criticizing the program. Even though our ESL program is not perfect, try not to disparage it in front of the students. This can be demoralizing to students. Instead, try your best to be:
ü A self-confident teacher who promotes confidence in students
ü Conscious of the potential in all students
ü A creator of positive energy that is contagious
According to M. Scott Peck, M.D., author of The Different Drum, Community Making and Peace, a community is a group where everyone must feel welcome. Communities offer a safe place for members to speak their minds. They know that they will be listened to and accepted for who they are. Why do you need a community in the ESL classroom? For several reasons:
1) Lower Anxiety= More Learning: Research shows that language students learn more when their anxiety level is low, so they need a sense of classroom community to achieve any real language acquisition and to persevere in their studies. Students who feel “safe” can take risks and make meaningful efforts at speaking English. If students see themselves as an integral part of the class, connected with other students, they are more likely to remain in the class.
2) Support Group: Being an immigrant can be extremely stressful. ESL programs provide learners with an opportunity to interact with other adults who may have similar life experiences, in a country void of familiar supports, where they are often misunderstood.
3) Cooperative Group: Many of us were taught in traditional classrooms, where the teacher did most of the talking and the students were silent receptors. This traditional style of learning is not conducive to language learning. Students in a cooperative group are more motivated to speak and feel greater support.
So how can we be non-traditional teachers who build a sense of community in the classroom? Overall, community-builders teach in non-traditional ways, foster relationships among students, and keep classes student-centered.
Base Class Curriculum on Learners’ Lives
Make students feel competent by talking about things they are familiar with—their lives, goals, family, food, homes, jobs, culture, history. This allows for authentic communication rather than rote language drills. Consider your students’ personal history a valuable classroom tool to get them talking, boost confidence in the classroom and to give them ownership of the class.
ü Make a class calendar with student/teacher birth dates, holidays
ü Celebrate birthdays and holidays together
ü Give family reports with photos
ü Use interview charts frequently! (see appendix)
ü Share traditional food and clothes
ü Country reports and presentations
Break from the Traditional Teacher Role
In many cultures, great respect is usually accorded to teachers. Teachers are sometimes viewed as authority figures and are generally expected to lead the class while students are expected to listen. This autocratic teaching style is not conducive to language learning. In order to teach ESL effectively, this stereotype needs to be abolished—in a hurry! The formality needs to be dropped, sleeves need to be rolled-up and everyone needs to dive in.
So, go informal! Clothes that are too formal can create distance between you and the students. Walk around the classroom when teaching. Don’t always stand in the front of the class, because you want to engage the entire class, not just the first row. Make good eye contact with your students and read your students’ body language. Students who sit up, lean forward in their chairs, give you lots of eye contact, and who contribute orally to class discussion are happy students, and you can take these signs as a job well done. On the other hand, if students stare at their watches, yawn, and slump in their chairs, it might be time to pick up the tempo or change gears. (Indeed, be alert for signs of unease, sickness or preoccupation. Provide advice and referral as needed.) Here are some other ways to break out of that traditional teacher role:
1) Games, Games, Games (see appendix)
2) Be a facilitator not a dictator. A facilitator draws out the student, providing the arena and the guidelines for the student to practice language learning. A teacher who is a community builder looks for the student to produce the subject matter, make choices and decisions, to express themselves and to rely on one another in problem solving exercises. Encourage students to tap into each other’s knowledge and experience in the following ways:
· Group work- have students work together in small groups on activities, presentations, and problem solving activities.
· Peer teaching- allow students to teach each other. Let students mentor each other. Encourage peer teaching.
· Use interviews, questionnaires, surveys - Give students plenty of opportunities to find out about each other. These are particularly good conversation helpers for the limited English speaker.
· Pair Work- Practice dialogues or questions in pairs. Mix it up though - don’t allow two people to constantly be in the same pair.
3) Use inclusive pronouns like “our” classroom, not “my” classroom.
4) Get the students to teach you something! Have students take the lead by showing how to play a game, tell a popular story, do a song or dance, or celebrate a special day in their own country. Break down barriers by reversing roles.
5) The class belongs to the students: In order to involve students in the learning process, they need to actively participate in the classroom. Get the students to take as much responsibility as possible for running the class. The students can do any physical work, such as taking attendance, passing out papers, giving dictation, creating nametags, writing dialogs on the board, erasing, and even correcting papers. If a student comes in late, perhaps you could assign another student to work with that student to catch up. Students can also quiz each and correct their own work.
Non-traditional teachers build community by winning the confidence of their students. So get to know one another! You may want to start the semester by telling students about yourself. If you model that sharing personal information is okay, students will be more comfortable opening up and speaking about themselves. Bring in those family photos! Share some experiences and goals you have in common. In the beginning you may be drawing pictures on the blackboard to make yourself understood. This is fine. Offer them the chalk when it’s their turn. (See the appendix for more ice-breaker activities.)
In getting to know one another, remember to use students’ names constantly, not just to call on them. For example:
“Like Rafael said” “Thanks, Judy, for that comment”
“Hi Sheila!” “See you next week, Maria.”
“I agree with Carlos” “Think back to what Hilda said earlier.”
“Jose, I know that you have a lot of experience in this topic, what do you think?”
(Bob Powers, Instructor Excellence)
Your goal should be to create a community feeling in the classroom and to encourage friendships with other students. Make sure they know your name and that they use it---first or last is fine. Don’t let them call you teacher, you want them to identify with you and see you as a person, part of their supportive team.
On the other hand, be careful how you use students' names, as calling out a name incorrectly can actually decrease participation. When you call out students' names to quiz them two things happen - the students who have already been called on get bored, and the waiting students are on pins and needles. Not only does this technique threaten people, but when used in the ESL classroom, it doesn't offer enough practice time for all the students, since they are being called on one at a time (Bob Powers, Instructor Excellence.) Instead of going around the room calling on students in logical order, encourage students to volunteer to speak up, or to answer as a group.
The student drop-out rate in this program, and many other programs like it, is fairly high. Most of the reasons that students stop attending classes are beyond the control of the teacher. Even the most experienced and dynamic instructors will experience a high drop-out rate. Please do not take this situation personally and understand the many obstacles your students face on a daily basis. Students sometimes stop coming for a variety of reasons:
· Transportation problems (students may move to a different area, or their car might have broken down, or they might miss the bus)
· Too tired to come to class
· Work obligations, such as a new job with different hours
· Family obligations
· Unrealistic expectations (not knowing how much effort and time is involved in achieving fluency, they may become discouraged once they realize the commitment it requires)
· Frustrations with the class level. Registrants are given a quick 15-minute test, and based on this assessment, they are placed in a class level—beginning, intermediate, or advanced. If they end up in the wrong level, they may drop out before we can make a change of class for them.
While we might think that learning English should be our students’ first priority, instructors must remember that being a new immigrant can be an overwhelming ordeal. Our students are faced with many difficulties—the language barrier, culture shock, finding a job, securing a place to live, finding their way around, and getting along without familiar support.
We have to be careful not to project what we think and feel onto our students. We, as Americans, share a common educational experience. Most of us were successful in school and graduated from High School and College. This may not
be the experience our learners have typically had. A student’s past educational experience will affect how he/she views learning English.
While the teacher can solve not all attrition problems, here are a few ways to help students coming back!
ü Phone students after two consecutive absences. You could also send a postcard, telling them that you miss them and encourage them to come back.
ü Keep student goals at the forefront—discuss them often.
ü Be a supportive caring teacher. Be available and friendly.
ü Create a supportive classroom. Make the classroom a community.
ü Teach relevant material based upon student needs.
ü Come to teach well prepared. Be organized.
ü Vary teaching techniques—consider learning styles.
The cost of the book is included in the registration fee, so students are welcome to take their books home and write in them. Encourage your students to use the vocabulary worksheet located on the last page of each chapter to record new words they learn in class. Every time a student learns a new verb, encourage him/her to write it in the verb chart located in the first chapter.
Please take attendance and keep track of who is in your class. (Take attendance quickly---have a student do it for you. Do not waste precious time by calling out each person’s name.) If a student drops out of your class, please make note and keep count of the number of students you have so that we may add new students. We also need this information because statistics must be sent to program funders.
Cancellation and Substitutes
Each coordinator should have the telephone numbers of the teachers and students. Each teacher should have the telephone numbers of the coordinator, the other teachers and his/her students. If, for some reason class has to be cancelled, you should be able to reach your students. Find out what the snow policy is at your site and teach it to your students before the snow season begins. When class is in session, try to start and end on time. Do not torture students that have worked all day by teaching a class with no end in sight. If you have to miss a class, please take the responsibility upon yourself and arrange for a substitute. Let your coordinator know.
Training Opportunities and Other Teacher Resources
If you are interested in supplemental ESL teaching
materials, please call Hogar
Hispano. We have a library and other ESL resources available. Fairfax Country Adult Education ESL program also has a very large library of more than 2,500 ESL materials. The library is located at Marshall High School on Route 7. Volunteer instructors are encouraged to use the library and may check out materials for up to three weeks at a time.
Try to attend some of the workshops that are offered by the Fairfax and Arlington Country programs and other ESL outfits as well. I will let you know when they are held through the monthly ESL newsletter. These workshops are excellent—you will learn a lot, meet others like yourself who are interested in ESL and will be motivated by the speakers.
We are always looking for volunteers. Tell a friend! Consider volunteering in the Hogar Hispano office. Sign up to help out at one of our citizenship workshops.
Be aware of emergency exits and bring a cell phone to class if possible, as most of the classrooms do not have phones. Please also keep an eye out for things that people might trip over such as cords and wastepaper baskets in the classroom. If you teach at night, please walk out to your car with another teacher.
Leave Classrooms in Good Order
Make sure all windows are closed and doors are locked. Please remember that we are in borrowed quarters and we need to be extremely respectful to our hosts. We depend on the generosity of the Parishes and other locations to run our program. Please make sure that all chairs and desks are put back in original order. Please do not allow food or drink in the classrooms. If you have trash, please take it out with you and dispose of it at home. Please erase the boards after you finish and have a look around before you leave to ensure that the room looks okay.
No Children in Classrooms
Please do not allow children in your class. This program is for adults and no minors should be in the classroom. This is a policy that must be strictly enforced. Parents cannot adequately supervise their children while they are in class, and children can be a distraction for other students. We must be fair to all students attending the program. While we encourage a somewhat informal classroom style, please do not permit children into your classroom.
I know you will enjoy teaching—it's very rewarding. Remember that positive energy and smiles are contagious. Make your class not only a time for learning, but also a time for fun.
Thank you for all that you do for others, and God Bless you.
Hogar Hispano ESL Coordinator
(703) 534-9805 ex 222
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Pippin Publishing Limited, 1993.
Center for Applied Linguistics. From the Classroom to the Workplace: Teaching
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Draves, William A. How to Teach Adults. Manhattan, Kansas: The Learning
Resources Network (LERN), 1997.
Harmer, Jeremy. How to Teach English. Edinburgh Gate: Addison Wesley
Longman Limited, 1998.
Powers, Bob. Instructor Excellence: Mastering the Delivery of Training. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992.
Suro, Robert. Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives In A Changing America. New
York: Vintage Books, 1999.